Harvard study on corruption in the pharmaceutical industry.


Important note: This article is not meant to be a total condemnation of the pharmaceutical industry.  We all know that many lives have been saved through medical advancements driven by this industry over the course of time.  In fact, the American public is constantly beat over the head with that knowledge from the media and the pharma companies themselves.  But not as many people know the dark side of this subject.  The purpose of this article is only to bring the dark side to light.  Nothing else.  People need to know.  

The reason for this post is to alert you to a study that was run by the Harvard Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics and was published in early December of 2013.  The study is titled “Institutional Corruption and the Pharmaceutical Policy”, and it comprises 16 articles by various experts on the topic.  Here is a link to the description of the study.  Needless to say, aside from the study published in the BMJ in 2012 about a pharma insider coming clean, this study is the most credible source and panel of experts I have seen espouse on this topic to date.  And they didn’t have very nice things to say about the pharmaceutical industry OR governmental regulatory agencies…to say the least!

I am alerting you to this article because this is a topic that directly affects every single one of us and our children…and because seemingly no one else is alerting you.  And, honestly, I am astounded by that.  The major news outlets would rather report on celebrity gossip than feature a study that provides a detailed explanation of the corruption in the pharmaceutical industry and our government.

Here is a PDF of a 10 page article written by Marc A. Rodwin, a Professor of Law at Suffolk University Law School and Lab Fellow at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University.  I urge all of you to at the very least read this summarizing article in full: Institutional Corruption and the Pharmaceutical Policy

Below are some tidbits from Marc Rodwin’s summarizing article.  Read them and make your own judgments.

But I ask for you to chew on this as you read the quotes:

Is it any wonder that we are currently witnessing an epidemic of US citizens that are choosing NOT to entrust their health and the health of their children to an industry that conducts itself in the following manner?


How is this news not plastered to the television screen of every American in every news broadcast and on the cover of every major newspaper and magazine in the United States?  

Clearly, this industry, along with the entire healthcare industry and the relationships that they have with our government, is a broken model that is in desperate need of repair:

“Yet, today, the goals of pharmaceutical policy and medical practice are often undermined due to institutional corruption — that is, widespread or systemic practices, usually legal, that undermine an institution’s objectives or integrity.”

“In addition, pharmaceutical industry funding of election campaigns and lobbying skews the legislative process that sets pharmaceutical policy. Moreover, certain  practices have corrupted medical research, the production of medical knowledge,  the practice of medicine, drug safety, and the Food and Drug Administration’s oversight of pharmaceutical marketing. Pharmaceutical firms have found ways to influence — and often corrupt — medical research and publications, and key firms and organizations that affect physicians’ clinical choices. These include: professional
medical associations, continuing medical education programs, online professional networking groups, hospital administrators, insurers, organizations that create practice guidelines and diagnostic treatment categories, and patient advocacy organizations. These institutions in turn influence physicians in general and particularly influential physicians known as key opinion leaders.  As a result, practitioners may think they are using reliable information to engage in sound medical practice, while they are actually relying on misleading information; they may then prescribe drugs that are unnecessary or harmful to patients, or more costly than equivalent medications. At the same time, patients and the public may believe that patient advocacy organizations effectively represent their interests, while these organizations actually neglect those interests.”

“Jorgensen’s thesis is that the pharmaceutical industry has convinced legislators to define policy problems in ways that advance its interests.” 

“the current architecture of pharmaceutical markets has created
a misalignment of financial incentives and public health that is a central cause of  harmful practices (“Corruption of Pharmaceutical Markets: Addressing the Misalignment of Financial Incentives and Public Health”).3 Firms have strong financial incentives to develop so-called me-too drugs — products which are minor variations of existing drugs — and to heavily market them in ways that exaggerate their benefits and fail to reveal their full risks” 

“The public improperly depends on drug firms to: (1) set priorities on drug research and development; (2) conduct clinical trials to test whether drugs are safe and effective; (3) decide what clinical trial data to disclose to the public; (4) monitor post-marketing drug safety; and (5) supply product information to physicians and to finance continuing medical education and other professional activities. Improper dependence on pharmaceutical firms in these areas compromises the integrity of pharmaceutical policy and should be addressed by system-wide reforms.”

“the pharmaceutical industry has corrupted the practice of medicine through its influence over what drugs are developed, how they are tested, and how medical knowledge is created”

“Meanwhile, the industry’s political influence has long compromised both the legislation meant to protect the public from unsafe drugs and the role of physicians
as independent advisors to patients. Starting in 1992, the Prescription Drug User Fee Acts made the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) dependent on funding from pharmaceutical firms, deepening its regulatory capture. Industry demanded more rapid reviews of applications to market new drugs and that resulted in what the authors call an epidemic of insufficiently tested drugs, many of which prove to have harmful and even fatal side effects that are undiscovered until they are in general use.”

“Research on the effects of a new drug determines whether the FDA approves it or not. Subsequent research sometimes determines whether the FDA withdraws that approval. Physicians rely on both forms of research when prescribing drugs and when they develop practice guidelines; insurers rely on the same research to decide whether and how much to pay for a drug; and hospitals rely on it to decide whether to include a drug in their formularies. It is no small matter, then, that institutional corruption often compromises this research.”

“several scandals ensued when pharmaceutical firms manipulated data from clinical
trials that test their drugs. Company managers have strong financial incentives (in the form of stock options and bonuses) to get drugs approved and widely marketed
— the quality of the drug being somewhat beside the point.”

“In theory, manipulated data would have to pass through a tough gauntlet consisting of FDA reviewers and the journals that publish results of clinical trials. However,
these guardians, like the financial auditors, often miss — or let pass — what they should catch.”

“The case study reveals that there are conflicts between the norms of commercial firms and universities. Moreover, corporate funding can make researchers dependent on their sponsor and lead them to learn new ways behave and
conduct research. Gray finds that individual researchers have to renegotiate concepts such as academic independence, and research integrity, that they previously took for granted.”

“It takes work for medical research — what scientists know — to become medical knowledge and practice — what doctors know and do. The path is long and
indirect, and there are many opportunities for institutional corruption along the way. Drug companies work hard to spread what they deem to be medical knowledge to help market their products. But they also play a role in creating that knowledge in a way that is biased toward their interests.”

“A small number of drug firms thus have inordinate influence over how medical knowledge is produced, circulated, and consumed, and thereby influence the decisions made by physicians.”

“In an ideal world, physicians would prescribe drugs based on knowledge of their effects, and not primarily due to pharmaceutical promotion. However, proposals to ban pharmaceutical marketing altogether are not likely to get far because the Supreme Court has held that the First Amendment protects advertising and other marketing as commercial speech.”

“the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and leading physician researchers have become financially dependant on drug firms. The APA receives millions of dollars from pharmaceutical companies for advertisements and grants. It publishes the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM-5), which will generate millions this year alone. It is no coincidence that this manual relies on a biological disease model of mental illness that is not well supported by the evidence but that does promote the commercial agenda of drug firms. Many researchers have financial
ties to drug firms even as they conduct clinical trials on those firms’ psychiatric medications and even as they develop the DSM categories and draft the practice
guidelines that call for the use of these drugs and guarantee that insurers will pay for them.”

“Are all these physicians on the take?12 No. But conflicts of interest compromise the judgment of physicians who conduct and interpret studies, develop diagnostic  categories, and draft practice guidelines.”

“most physicians consider themselves to be rational and objective, and consequently fail to recognize how susceptible they are to commercial influences due to self- serving bias, rationalization and cognitive dissonance”

“Pharmaceutical firms suffer from no such naivety. They are well aware of these human foibles and often apply principles of social psychology to influence physicians.”

“Many patient advocacy organizations (PAOs) accept funding from pharmaceutical firms in order to finance their activities, but dependency on that funding creates conflicts of interest that can bias PAO advocacy toward the interests of pharmaceutical donors. Rose notes that institutions are often interested in ensuring that they are trusted, but says that instead they need to focus on developing  practices and policies to ensure that they remain trustworthy — in short, that they deserve to be trusted.”

“In the 16 articles that make up this symposium, you will be able to spot at least four such themes: (1) improper dependencies as a source of corruption; (2) misalignment
of incentives and markets as a source of corruption; (3) marketing as a distortion of medical practice and ethics; and (4) the limits of financial disclosure as a

“legislators have become dependent on drug company campaign contributions and other resources and, rather than representing citizens, legislation often serve the interests of pharmaceutical firms.18”

“the Prescription Drug User Fee Act makes the FDA financially dependent on industry user fees from reviewing applications to market new drugs.19 As a result, the FDA focuses on rapidly reviewing new drug applications which displaces the FDA’s original regulatory agenda: ensuring drug safety.”

“improper dependence on drug firms systematically slants important policy choices in five key areas, starting with the development of new drugs and continuing through the monitoring of patient safety after drugs are marketed.20”

“dependence on drug firms to honestly report clinical trial results when they have incentives to manipulate data creates a moral hazard that needs to be addressed.22”

“organized psychiatry has become financially dependent on pharmaceutical industry funding and that this has corrupted the development of psychiatric diagnostic categories and practice guidelines.24”

“But in fact, the financial incentives for drug firms are often misaligned with public policy goals so that firms can prosper without advancing the public’s health.”

“current market incentives do not advance public health goals.”

“Misaligned incentives can encourage research fraud.”

“the incentive for firms and managers to get drugs approved by the FDA can be so strong that it encourages manipulating research data.30”

“none of their reform proposals will be implemented “until third-party payers, politicians, and the people decide they want to stop paying so much for so many drugs of little value and then for treating the millions harmed by those drugs.” I hope that our collective efforts will publicize these issues and convince people that it is time to stop the institutional corruption of pharmaceutical policy.” 

So, there you have it folks.  The quotes above were taken directly from a study published by well-respected Harvard Scientists.

So, regardless of which side of the fence you stand on regarding vaccination, can you see the conundrum here?  How is the American public supposed to trust the pharmaceutical industry and even their own government agencies with their health when this type of corporate and political corruption runs so deep?  Do the quotes that you just read above inspire confidence in YOU to trust them?

There is a famous quote that I absolutely love.  It was said by a man named Arthur Schopenhauer:

“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”

If anyone is interested, there is a terrific book that I highly recommend for reading on this subject.  It’s by a doctor named Ben Goldacre and the title is “Bad Pharma – How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patients.” Click here to purchase. 

Finally, I’d like to hear your thoughts on this matter in the comments section below.  And please do your part and share this blog post with everyone you know!  Share it on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.  Email it to people.  Do the job that the media SHOULD be doing for the American people but isn’t!  

Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to click the “follow” button to the right of this page so you never miss out on informative pieces such as this one!

Here are a few more videos that might interest you:

1) Pfizer got a slap on the wrist due to improperly and illegally marketing Bextra for off label use.  The penalty for this infraction is supposed to be a permanent ban from being able to use medicare and Medicaid for distribution of their drug line.  But the US govt allowed them to create a shell company and then they banned the shell company instead of Pfizer!

2) One of my favorite Bill Maher videos.  He goes on a rant about the pharma industry.  Pretty funny!

3) I can’t verify the validity of this guy but apparently he is a former pharma industry executive (35 years) mostly at Eli Lily and then became a whistle-blower.  Listen to what he has to say:


Rick Gold

Rick Gold, Functional Wellness Practitioner
Gold Functional Wellness, Inc.

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