Is there a cure for corporate crime in the drug industry?

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f755 (Published 06 February 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f755

Re: Is there a cure for corporate crime in the drug industry?

This editorial raises some very interesting questions and issues of major concern to both doctors and patients. There is a need to take the problem of fraudulent activity in the pharmaceutical industry much more seriously. When evidence is not released, patients can be harmed. Recent examples include the suppression of evidence about rosiglitazone and the use of paroxetine in adolescents which has led to considerable harm for a significant number of patients. The prolonged difficulty in obtaining evidence about Tamiflu has resulted in wasted resources at a time when spending on health care is particularly limited. It is telling that the regulatory authorities have been so reluctant to become involved in seriously addressing this problem. When patient safety is so obviously at risk there is a need to commit sufficient resources to properly investigate and prosecute companies when needed.

If the fines levied reflected the significant profits that have been made as a result of illegal or fraudulent activity, this money could be used to finance adequately the MHRA and FDA in this role.

Companies will continue to “get away with it” unless society, governments , clinical staff and the public act together to ensure regulators have credible systems to detect and punish unacceptable behaviour.

Competing interests: member of healthy skepticism aims include - Improve health by reducing harm from inappropriate, misleading or unethical marketing of health products or services, especially misleading pharmaceutical promotion - Investigate and communicate about marketing practices

13 February 2013
Jeni McAughey
Healthy Skepticism UK
Whitehead, NI