[Ip-health] The Truth Seeps Out, Big Pharma Has A Rare Week, by MARTHA ROSENBERG

Riaz K Tayob riaz.tayob at gmail.com
Wed Feb 27 00:44:15 PST 2013

February 27, 2013
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The Truth Seeps Out

  Big Pharma Has A Rare Week


The sound you hear is Pharma swinging from the rafters. Two news stories 
this week may reinfuse revenue streams in an industry whose blockbuster 
pill "bubble" has burst.  As Lipitor, Seroquel, Zyprexa, Singulair, 
Concerta and several other drugs have lost patent protection, Pharma is 
shedding both employees and ad campaigns. WebMD, the voice of Pharma on 
the Web, announced it would cut 250 positions in December and medical 
journals like the /Journal of the American Medical Association/ (JAMA) 
and /New England Journal of Medicine/ are noticeably thinner without the 
Pharma ads that have leavened them for years.

D and calcium will not protect older women from fractures, a government 
task force reported this week, in the /Annals of Internal Medicine 
<http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=1655858>./ The U.S. Preventive 
Services Task Force "recommends against daily supplementation with 400 
IU or less of vitamin D3 and 1000 mg or less of calcium for the primary 
prevention of fractures" and  also recommends that older women, and 
younger ones with risk factors, be screened for osteoporosis.

While the report does not recommend expensive drugs or seem to be penned 
by Pharma consultants, its message is still good news for Pharma whose 
anti-osteoporosis drugs carried it through the 2000s.  "Don't rely on 
just Vitamin D and calcium" and "get a bone scan!" were the marketing 
messages of the bone drugs Boniva, Fosamax and Actonel.

According to published reports, Merck, who launched the bone drug 
category with its Fosamax, single handedly initiated the "bone scan" 
craze foisted on middle aged and older women, including setting up a 
bone "institute" to secure Medicare reimbursement for the scans which 
were driving Fosamax sales.

Pharma even created the term "osteopenia"--at risk of osteoporosis--to 
sell the now discredited bone drugs, which are linked to esophageal 
cancer, osteonecrosis of the jaw, irregular heart beat, pain and 
/actually causing fractures./ Subsequent medical reports found the 
heavily marketed bone scans only benefit 10 percent of women who get them.

In more good news for Pharma this week, Genentech's drug for allergic 
asthma, Xolair, co-marketed with Novartis, was trumpeted as having a new 
possible indication of treating patients with chronic hives or chronic 
idiopathic urticaria, reported the /New York Times. /If approved for the 
new indication, chronic idiopathic urticaria will likely became a major 
U.S. health problem to be advertised on TV like restless legs syndrome. 

Genetically engineered drugs like Xolair (called monoclonal antibodies) 
cost as much as $20,000 a year and cause TB, cancers and super 
infections according to their labels because they suppress the immune 
system. Xolair was investigated by the FDA 
for links to heart attack and stroke and 77 people who took Xolair had 
life-threatening allergic responses in a year and a half, according to 
FDA reports.

Some of the clinical tests to determine Xolair's safety were conducted 
at Vivra 
which was investigated twice by the FDA for procedural irregularities. 
Trials of Xolair and at least seven other drugs were corrupted by 
protocol violations and outright falsifications, according to a former 
clinical research subinvestigator who worked at the facility. San Mateo, 
Calif.-based Vivra Asthma & Allergy was the nation's largest respiratory 
disease physician practices until a merger with Lakewood, Colo.-based 
Gambro in 1997 and with El Segundo, Calif.-based DaVita in 2005.

There is even a genetically engineered monoclonal antibody drug called 
Prolia to treat /osteoporosis /that costs $1,650 a year now that we know 
Vitamin D and calcium don't work.

/*Martha Rosenberg* is an investigative health reporter. She is the 
author of Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks 
Pimp The Public Health 
<http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1616145935/counterpunchmaga> (Prometheus)./

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