Bumbling behemoth agency hoped it was too big to get caught, while cynically hiding data from public
Presumably on breaks from twiddling its thumbs, the chronically listless U.S. Food and Drug Admiration managed, according to an expose on Slate.com, to bury evidence of pharmaceutical corporation “fraud, fabrication of data, and scientific misconduct.” So, now we know that as well as not holding pharmaceutical companies accountable for bad drugs or bad behavior, the FDA – 14,000 employees strong – the agency is contributing to the deceit of the American people it’s sworn to protect.
Charles Seife, a journalism professor at New York University, and his investigative journalism class were able to uncover ongoing patterns of FDA obfuscation related to clinical trials of drugs in the U.S. Perhaps the clearest explanation in the piece for what’s been going on is Seife’s succinct, “All done in the name of science when researchers thought nobody was watching.” One might add, “… and when the FDA thought nobody was watching.” A “Scientists Gone Wild video,” says Seife as a comparison point for the FDA’s hidden files on researcher conduct.
We tend to take this type of discovery and add it to the pile of other misconduct (by pharma, the FDA, anyone in the public trust, for that matter), in the manner of a judge handing down concurrent sentences after conviction. “You did a whole lot of bad stuff, and I’m going to order a big block of time to cover it all.” What we need to do, if we ever expect reform in the pharmaceutical industry and the way it’s regulated, is to see these crimes, not lumped together, but consecutive.
Price-gouging, bad pharma poster-boy Martin Shkreli gets arrested, then Valeant Pharmaceuticals doubles the price on a physician-assisted suicide drug, then the FDA cover-ups, one thing after another after another. Why? Because it’s too easy to forget the magnitude of each despicable act when we see it as one big blob of crimes and misdemeanors. When nobody gets a free pass for betraying the public trust, especially in medicine and pharmaceuticals, then the landscape begins to look better.
“For more than a decade, the FDA has shown a pattern of burying the details of misconduct. As a result, nobody ever finds out which data is bogus, which experiments are tainted, and which drugs might be on the market under false pretenses,” says Professor Seife regarding his and his students’ discoveries. What more do we need to know before people – lots of people – get fired from the FDA!?
The fact that any action against the agency is slow-to-non-existent confirms my belief and those of other physicians: Big Pharma is the new mafia. Now we’re learning that the FDA runs its own “family,” under a caporegime who reports to the bigger bosses in the executive suites of drug companies.
Crime and crime families in the pharmaceutical industry are no surprise to me. My upcoming novel, DEADLY PRESCRIPTION, takes you on a fictionalized ride through the mean streets where the “godfather” might very well be a pharma CEO.