Did you know that drug companies make 14.6 BILLION dollars annually on just antipsychotics alone? That’s more than any other class of drug. It didn’t used to be that way. Antipsychotics used to be prescribed only for the severely “mentally ill” but now according to a recent article in the New York Times called “Side Effects May Include Lawsuits,” that has changed so that these drugs have been prescribed for much broader use regardless of age or symptoms. “Today more than half a million youths take antipsychotic drugs and fully one quarter of nursing home residents have used them. Yet recent government warnings say the drugs may be fatal to some older patients and have unknown effects on children.”
So how did antipsychotic drugs get into mainstream use? According to this article, the answer is by illegal marketing. A drug company can’t promote a drug for anything other than what the FDA approved its use for, but a doctor, paid consultant, researcher or educator can. In fact, sales reps “wine and dine” doctors to promote their drugs or do a “study” and in return get money, gifts, trips and the like. Or the marketing department can come up with a “study” for them and then pay a prestigious doctor a significant fee to sign it so it looks like a doctor did the “research.” A Harvard educated psychiatrist was a paid speaker for several drug companies and turned into a government informant. He said he was paid $1000 or more to talk to a doctor about a drug. It got to the point that he was asked to say things that weren’t true. He was asked to show slides that stated a new antipsychotic drug had no neurological side effects. “They made it all up. It was never true.”
Now under the False Claims Act, every major drug company selling antipsychotics is being sued by the government for health care fraud or they have recently settled a case for hundreds of millions of dollars. Eli Lilly just got slapped with a $1.415 Billion fine for its all-time best-selling drug Zyprexa. Apparently it was knowingly being promoted for uses not approved by the FDA and they even made a video called, “The Myth of Diabetes” to discredit the fact that Zyprexa could cause diabetes among other side effects.
Yet with over 1,000 lawsuits in progress, the drug companies admit no wrongdoing and claim their drugs are safe. With the above information in mind, I would suggest checking out for yourself what are the TRUE factual risks and benefits of any drug before becoming a victim of marketing over safety.