Big Pharma's Deadly "New Math":
By Nurse Mark
Remember when the "New Math" came into public
schools, replacing the old, straightforward, understandable "Arithmetic" with
it's long division and those 'times-tables' that we all struggled so hard to
memorize? I sure do - mathematics has never been the same for me, and not in a
It seems that corporate America,
and especially that portion of corporate America that is Big Pharma have a form
of "New Math" as well - they use this new way of thinking to figure the profit
and loss potentials for their patented drug offerings.
It seems that when there are obscenely huge profits
involved then fines and lawsuits and legal costs are just another expense to be
This week the FDA has announced
(Crowed about?) the success of their Office of Criminal Investigations which has
resulted in fines totaling 634 million that have been slapped on the Purdue
Frederic Company and some of it's top executives who admitted to lying about the
addictive drug Oxycontin in order to keep the obscene profit stream flowing.
(See the FDA Digest clip at the end of this article.)
The drug, introduced in 1995, has generated concerns
and problems from the start - with even mainstream doctors expressing worry
about it's addictive nature, and law enforcement and drug addiction experts
expressing alarm at the crime and misery that quickly began to associate with
the drug as drug dealers sought to obtain the narcotic and addicts struggled to
find the money to pay for their addictions.
It seems that the company and it's top brass knew of
this, and instead of doing something to relieve the problems, they instructed
their sales force (the "Reps" who teach your doctor most everything he knows
about drugs and how and when to use them) to tell doctors that the stuff really
was OK and not addictive, hardly at all...
Why would they do this? Well, there are 9.6 billion reasons, just in the US
alone - for that is the retail sales of this drug just from 2000 to 2006 -
according to the news magazine for pharmacists Drug Topics. So just what is a
billion? It is one thousand times one million. That's dollars, folks. Bucks.
So let's look at this
9.6 billion is 9,600,000,000
634 million is 634,000,000
Still too big to wrap the mind around?
Try this - it worked for me:
I 'm in Arizona, where we have a sales tax. I
recently went to a local Big Box Store and bought an appliance for $96. When I
got to the cashout to pay for it, they charged me the sales tax - at the rate of
6.6%. That sales tax came to - wait for it - six dollars and 34 cents.
Now this becomes a little easier to see: it looks
like the Big Pharma boys just have to figure that they might have to pay
something like a "sales tax" - but only if they get "busted"...
If the gamble pays off, if not too many people
die, and if not too many people who complain are rich, famous, or influential
then they might not have to pay this "tax" at all - but if they do, it is pretty
small change - just like our state sales tax.
In this case they made 9.6 billion, paid 6.6% or 634
million, and wind up with just a little less than 9 billion left. Not bad, huh?
And best of all, nobody has to go to jail!
Given the potentially petty nature of this "cost of doing business," the drug
companies will continue to pour out their toxic brews, pushing them on an
unsuspecting public whose health and lives mean nothing more to them than a few
dollars of profit in the Grand Scheme Of Things.
Merck, that public-spirited company that brought you
the wonder-drug Vioxx hasn't learned from that fiasco, or maybe they have: they
are currently pressuring the FDA to approve a new drug - that just happens to be
in the same class of drugs (Cox-2 inhibitors) as the deadly Vioxx. They paid
their "sales tax" on their obscenely huge Vioxx profits, and I'm guessing that
they will simply work the possibility of another "tax" into the price of this
"new" drug called Arcoxia - just in case they get "busted" again...
As the old song goes: "Good work if you can get it!"
From the FDA Digest:
Company Agrees to $600
Million Settlement in OxyContin Scheme
The Purdue Frederick Company Inc. has agreed
to pay more than $600 million to resolve criminal charges and civil
liabilities in connection with several illegal schemes to promote, market and
sell OxyContin, a powerful prescription pain reliever. An FDA investigation
revealed that the company had trained its sales force to make false statements
to health care providers as a ploy to generate maximum revenues.