Updated on 8 August 2013
Pfizer: Harmful deceit
It all started with Pfizer's research director indicating that a study conducted to determine whether an arthritis drug, Celebrex, was safer than other drugs like ibuprofen, was falsely represented. The email pointed out that, ‘Pfizer and its partner, Pharmacia, were able to misrepresent Celebrex as a safer alternative because they only released the results of half of a yearlong study. The email states that they swallowed our story, hook, line and sinker.
Pfizer was said to be involved in widespread work to promote the drug in ways not necessarily backed up by medical science, and to overcome the doubts of critics. In August 2012, the company paid $60.2 million to the US to settle charges that the company bribed government officials, including hospital administrators, government doctors and members of the regulatory and purchasing committees in China, Russia, Italy, Bulgaria, Serbia, Kazakhstan and Croatia to approve and prescribe Pfizer products.
Abbott's unlawful drug promotion
Abbott Laboratories had pleaded guilty and paid $1.5 billion for unlawfully promoting the prescription drug Depakote for uses not approved safe and effective by the US FDA. In May 2012, the United States Department of Justice had issued a press release against Abbott pleading guilty to misbranding Depakote by promoting the drug to control agitation and aggression in elderly dementia patients and to treat schizophrenia when neither of these uses was approved by the FDA.
US DoJ said in their statement that the company had admitted that from 1998 through 2006, it maintained a specialized sales force trained to market Depakote in nursing homes for the control of agitation and aggression in elderly dementia patients, despite the absence of credible scientific evidence that Depakote was safe and effective for that use. Further, it said that from 2001 through 2006, the company marketed Depakote in combination with atypical antipsychotic drugs to treat schizophrenia, even after its clinical trials failed to demonstrate that adding Depakote was any more effective than an atypical antipsychotic alone for that use.
The FDA had originally approved the drug for epileptic seizures, bipolar mania and the prevention of migraines. The press release clearly states that this drug was never approved for controlling behavioral disturbances in dementia patients. This was because the drug was found to be dangerous in elderly patients causing some of them to suffer from dehydration and anorexia after using this drug.
Takeda went for money over safety
In 2012, Takeda failed to report that their diabetes drug Actos has been found to lead to bladder cancer and congestive heart failure. This led to another scandal where Takeda was blamed to have encouraged its medical reviewers to incorrectly classify some of the reports of congestive heart failure.
Like in every other scandal, Takeda's whistle blower was a former employee who filed the lawsuit against the company claiming that when she attempted to protest against this practice, she was fired by the drugmaker.