The Pharmaceutical Industry Today: Is It Bribery?

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The Pharmaceutical Industry Today: Is it Bribery? “Pharmaceutical companies spend billions of dollars annually to ensure that physicians most susceptible to marketing prescribe the most expensive, most promoted drugs to the most people possible. But…every word, every courtesy, every gift, and every piece of information provided is carefully crafted, not to assist doctors or patients, but to increase market share for targeted drugs” (Fugh). While pharmaceutical companies spend billions promoting their products, there are mandatory rules generated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that pharmaceutical companies must abide by. As such, physicians are targeted for product promotion by pharmaceutical companies, even when the risks of doing so outweigh the benefits. Drug Companies should not be allowed to personally market drugs to physicians. Product promotion is critical for any large pharmaceutical company. At the same time, because pharmaceutical interventions can monumentally impact human health, promotion of products must follow strict guidelines set by the FDA. Ethical promotion requires pharmaceutical companies to provide exact product facts, without recommending “off-label” use, i.e., promoting a product outside its specified FDA-approved label and guidelines for distribution, handling, etc. (Public). “Off-label promotion can be prosecuted as a criminal offense because of the potential for serious adverse health consequences to patients from such promotional activities” (Public). Even though the practice of “off-label” pharmaceutical promotion is against FDA regulations, in December of 2010, the well-known drug company Abbott and Elan was fined $41MM and $204 MM in two separate cased for utilizing this practice. In addition, AstraZeneca was fined earlier that year $520 MM in a case involving Seroquel XR (Public). Even with stiff fines for abuses,

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