Joel Lexchin

“It is common knowledge that drug companies spend a lot on promotion… But even I didn’t realize that the figure was as high as we estimate it is.”

Joel Lexchin is with the School of Health Policy and Management, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

In a report entitled The Cost of Pushing Pills: A New Estimate of Pharmaceutical Promotion Expenditures in the United States published in the Public Library of Science Medicine, authors Marc-André Gagnon and Joel Lexchin conclude:

“From this new estimate, it appears that pharmaceutical companies spend almost twice as much on promotion as they do on R&D. These numbers clearly show how promotion predominates over R&D in the pharmaceutical industry, contrary to the industry’s claim. While the amount spent on promotion is not in itself a confirmation of Kefauver’s depiction of the pharmaceutical industry, it confirms the public image of a marketing-driven industry and provides an important argument to petition in favor of transforming the workings of the industry in the direction of more research and less promotion.”


Editor’s Note:

The Kefauver referred to in the conclusion is Estes Kefauver, a former Senator who accused the prescription drug industry of predatory pricing and excessive marketing in the 1950’s.  He launched a public review of the industry through the Senate’s anti-trust and monopoly subcommittee.


The Cost of Pushing Pills: A New Estimate of Pharmaceutical Promotion Expenditures in the United States by Marc-André Gagnon and Joel Lexchin (Public Library of Science Medicine)

Drug Companies Spend Nearly Double on Marketing Compared with Research: Study
(The Canadian Press)

January 07, 2008.

Jeffrey Light

“The argument that drug companies can be trusted to provide adequate safety information on their own products has been used by the pharmaceutical industry to fight against government regulation of consumer advertising.  Clearly such trust is misplaced.  As Abbott’s actions have demonstrated, drug companies will attempt to hide unfavorable safety information when they think nobody is watching.

Jeffrey Light is Executive Director of the Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group Patients not Patents.

Source: Abbott Laboratories Deletes Safety Concerns from Web (Patients not Patents Press Release)

Editor’s Note: This company and many others like it were caught by WikiScanner.  WikiScanner was developed by Virgil Griffith, a researcher at the California Institute of Technology.  It reveals changes to an online encyclopedia by linking edits back to the computers from which they were done, using each computer’s unique IP address.

Related Links:
Patients not Patents
WikiScanner (Dead Link)

August 31, 2007.

Robert Bazell

“If anyone doubts the influence of drug company ads on patients and physicians — consider all those wasted billions of dollars for a pill that sells for more than six times as much as another drug that does the same thing, made by the same company.”

Robert Bazell is Chief Science and Health Correspondent for NBC News.

Editor’s Note: He is, of course, referring to AstraZeneca’s Prilosec (costs about $30/month) and Nexium (costs about $200/month).  Nexium (the ‘little purple pill’) costs six times as much but is only 3 percent better at relieving symptoms.

Shame on AstraZeneca and double shame on the FDA top managers who approved this drug even though the officer assigned to the case concluded that the new drug offered no “significant clinical advance” over the old drug. Your actions wasted billions of dollars a year that could have been put to better use.

The Costly Side Effects of Nexium’s Ad Blitz (NBC News)

August 15, 2007

Doctor Kurt Stange

“[Prescription drug ads are] really intruding onto the doctor-patient relationship… What the ads tend to do is take up time and energy during a visit that could otherwise be spent on things that are important to the patient.”

Doctor Stange is professor of family medicine at Case Western Reserve University and editor of the Annals of Family Medicine.

Source: Could Drug Ads be Bad for Your Health? (ABC News)

February 14, 2007.

Doctor Dominick Frosch

“The ads do rely almost universally on the consumers’ emotions… Medical decisions shouldn’t be about emotions. They should be on carefully weighed benefits, risks and costs.”

Doctor Frosch is an assistant professor of general internal medicine at UCLA.  He also said:

“Doctors in surveys have said that they have provided drugs even when the prescription wasn’t appropriate… If consumers were powerless in changing the views of the doctors, the pharmaceutical industry would not be spending money advertising to them. It works.”

Source: Could Drug Ads be Bad for Your Health? (ABC News)

Editor’s Note: Prescription drug advertising contributes to higher drug prices in the United States and is banned in nearly all other Western countries.  Please read Why are Canadian Drug Prices Lower? for details.

February 12, 2007.

Joseph E Stiglitz

“Drug companies spend more on advertising and marketing than on research, more on research on lifestyle drugs than on life saving drugs, and almost nothing on diseases that affect developing countries only. This is not surprising. Poor people cannot afford drugs, and drug companies make investments that yield the highest returns.”

Joseph E Stiglitz was chief economist of the World Bank from 1997 to 2000 and won the Nobel Prize for economics in 2001.

Source: Scrooge and Intellectual Property Rights (British Medical Journal)

December 26, 2006.

David MacKay

“The bottom line in 2007 is that enrollment costs are going up substantially, drug coverage is declining and the brand name coverage in the doughnut hole is being eliminated… Medicare D is an insurance program, not a benefit. As consumption increases, so too will cost. The changes in 2007 clearly demonstrate the limitations of the program.

“Therefore, seniors are wise to re-evaluate their plans and consider online Canadian pharmacies… especially since Customs seizures are no longer an issue.”

David MacKay is an international pharmacy expert and consultant.

Source: Media Release

December 05, 2006.

Tessa Hafen

“Jon Porter has failed to make prescription drugs more affordable… In fact, his votes in Congress have made drugs more expensive, while the drug companies make record profits.”

Congressional candidate Tessa Hafen criticized her Republican opponent’s support for recent federal Medicare legislation.

If elected, Hafen said she would allow the government to negotiate with drug makers and legalize the reimportation of medicines from Canada.

Source: Hafen Attacks Nevada Congressman for Medicare Vote (Associated Press)

August 26, 2006.

Representative Louise Slaughter

While many have been left behind by Part D, there is a clear winner: the drug industry. Independent analysts predict that Part D will increase drug industry profits by $139 billion over the next eight years. Glaxo-SmithKline’s second-quarter net income already jumped 14 percent, and other leading drug companies also have benefited.

The procedure used to pass Part D was the worst abuse of the legislative process I have seen during my 20 years in Congress. Powerful Republicans quashed conscientious amendments to the bill, including one requiring the administration to negotiate lower drug prices and another allowing Americans to import cheaper drugs from Canada. And during the conference process by which the House and Senate versions of legislation are reconciled, Democratic legislators were shut out, but lobbyists from the pharmaceutical industry were invited in.

Louise Slaughter represents the 28th District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Source: Give Medicare Program Total Overhaul; Don’t Just Fill ‘Doughnut Hole’ (The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle)

August 23, 2006.

Representative Louise Slaughter

Recent criticisms of Part D have focused on the so-called “doughnut hole” rule in which beneficiaries must cover all annual expenses between $2,251 and $5,100 — a hole in their coverage. But while this flaw will cost patients money and is expected to hurt as many as 7 million seniors and people living with disabilities this year, it is just the tip of the iceberg.

Part D does not allow the administration to negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies. These companies are charging taxpayers up to 80 percent more for drugs purchased under Part D than for those purchased under other plans. Furthermore, it prevents the re-importation of cheaper medications from Canada.

Louise Slaughter represents the 28th District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Source: Give Medicare Program Total Overhaul; Don’t Just Fill ‘Doughnut Hole’ (The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle)

August 23, 2006.

Froma Harrop

“In case you haven’t noticed, a large wall is being built around the American people to ensure that they remain prisoner to the drug industry. It’s easy to understand why drug makers want to force Americans to buy their products in the United States. Ours is the only industrialized country that doesn’t negotiate the prices the drug companies may charge. As a result, a 90-day supply of Fosamax sells for $105 in Canada but $210 here.”

Froma Harrop is a Providence Journal columnist.

Source: Keeping Our Border Safe from Affordable Medication (Seattle Times)

August 09, 2006.

Rex Wilmouth

“The 46 million uninsured (Americans) pay 60 percent more than the federal government pays for the same drugs. The uninsured pay about twice what they would pay for he same drugs at a Canadian pharmacy… Prescription drug pricing is out of control and puts needed medical treatment out of reach for too many Americans.”

Rex Wilmouth is State Director of Colorado Public Interest Research Group.

Source: National Survey Shows Uninsured Americans Pay Higher Prices For Prescription Drugs – Uninsured Coloradans Paying Nearly Twice As Much As They Should (Colorado Public Interest Research Group)

July 30, 2006.

Senator Judd Gregg

“If I were a creative terrorist, I would say to myself, ‘Hey, listen, all I’ve got to do is produce a can here that says ‘Lipitor’ on it, make it look like the original Lipitor bottle, which isn’t too hard to do, fill it with anthrax.'”

Senator Judd Gregg said the proposal to let Canadian drugs into the US was “…creating a massive hole on our capacity to secure our borders and protect ourselves.”

Source: Senate Relents on Canada Drug Imports (Associated Press)


Editor’s Response:


If I were a creative terrorist…

If you were a creative terrorist?

Senator Gregg, a creative terrorist would do their homework.   A creative terrorist would know that drugs from Canada are factory sealed.  A creative terrorist would know that it would be easier to introduce poisoned drugs into the system using an American pharmacy (where pills are still counted).


Fortunately for those of us who live in the real world, a creative terrorist would also know that one does not maximize fear by poisoning people one bottle of pills at a time.


Speaking of pills, I am sorry but I have to ask:

When you dreamed up your clever Lipitor scheme, Senator Gregg, were you on the same pills Lester Crawford probably was on when he said Terrorists may Tamper with Prescription Drugs from Canada?


That was back in 2004!

Creative terrorist?  You are not even a creative senator.


Playing the terror card?  Using fear against grandparents trying to make ends meet by importing prescription drugs from Canada?

Shame on you, Senator Gregg!

At 59 years of age you should know better.

Just so you know: Baseless scare-tactics won’t work against us.  Unlike you, we do our homework.

And the next time you think of trying to use fear as a weapon against us, remember that it takes a bit of courage, a lot of hard work and a fair bit of brains to get to our age.

People enjoying life after sixty are survivors, not suckers.

We just don’t scare that easily, Mr. Senator.

July 19, 2006.

Senator David Vitter

“We should demand that (Customs and Border Protection) focus on the true priority that we face on the war on terror… Stripping small amounts of prescription drugs from the hands of seniors… that should not be a priority.”

Source: Senate OKs Canada Drug Import Plan (Guardian Unlimited)

July 18, 2006.

Linda Van Gundy

“As far as I’m concerned, my government stole my drugs… And they’re not going to pay me back for them.”

Seventy-year-old Linda Van Gundy hoped Xenical would help her lose weight to relieve medical problems.  A one-month supply of Xenical costs $200 in the US and $99 in Canada (free shipping).  Since April, she lost six pounds and saved $400 buying Canadian drugs.

Last month, however, Linda’s shipment of Xenical was siezed by federal authorities on its way into the country.

Source: Peoria Journal Star News (July 9th, 2006)

July 11, 2006.