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    Repiglican Roast

    A spirited discussion of public policy and current issues

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    I'm furious about my squandered nation.

    Monday, November 09, 2009

    Pfizer Broke the Law by Promoting Drugs for Unapproved Uses

    “Marketing departments of many drug companies don’t respect any boundaries of professionalism or the law,” says Jerry Avorn, a professor at Harvard Medical School in Boston and author of “Powerful Medicines: The Benefits, Risks, and Costs of Prescription Drugs” (Random House, 2004). “The Pfizer and Lilly cases involved the illegal promotion of drugs that have been shown to cause substantial harm and death to patients.”
    The widespread off-label promotion of drugs is yet another manifestation of a health-care system that has become dysfunctional.
    “It’s an unbearable cost to a system that’s going broke,” says Avorn, who heads the pharmacology economics unit of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “We can’t even afford to pay for effective, safe therapies.”
    10 Million Prescriptions
    About 15 percent of all drug sales in the U.S. are for unapproved uses without adequate evidence the medicines work, according to a study by Randall Stafford, a medical professor at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.
    He estimates that doctors write more than 10 million such prescriptions each year.

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