Merck, Wyeth, Vioxx, Premarin, Prempro - Dangers of Big Pharma

Big Pharma Dangerous to Patients

So Merck has settled the Vioxx class action suit for $4.85 billion.

In the process, lawyers get rich, the media gets something to cover and the pundits can earn their keep debating Merck's legal strategy and the impact on its stock price.

What isn't being talked about is the fact that innocent men and women died or got hurt because the Merck marketing machine kept encouraging doctors to prescribe Vioxx - a flawed drug whose dangers were reported in the medical literature since 2001.

Sadly, the Vioxx story is not unique - and I believe we the consumers must take responsibility for using its lesson to protect ourselves from more abuse.

Not unlike the tobacco companies of yesteryear, today's pharmaceutical giants like Merck and Wyeth have become hugely popular on Wall Street among corporate investors and pension funds because they yield consistent dividends.

Maybe it's time enlightened shareholders started to put pressure on companies to stop these investments. Tobacco companies lost many of their investors after it was determined that its products were killing its customers and just think, tobacco was a free choice habit, not a prescription medication given by a doctor to treat a medical condition.

We are now faced with an obvious conclusion: drug companies don't have our best interest at heart - assuming your best interest is your health and not your wallet. (By the way, your wallet can be very fat and you can have great access to great medical care and still get sicker and be unable to enjoy life).

Merck's stock went up when it settled the Vioxx suit. Wall Street figured Merck was smart to cut its losses and get back to the business of selling more drugs - like the new and already controversial HPV vaccine Gardasil which they now promote as safe to older women as they expand its reach. Gardasil has no track record of safety or long term efficacy in younger women, has already been connected with the death of 11 women. How can it be pushed with such alacrity on even more women?

But just the same: Merck's marketers move on. The name of the game for big pharma is selling - not safety or efficacy.

Why are the doctors buying into this? They are victims of intimidation as much as those they treat. The doctors are brainwashed by the drug companies, the large physician organizations are heavily supported by the drug companies, health care advertising is heavy with drug company money, physician conferences are largely sponsored by the drug companies leaving most doctors in the dark and fearful of ever questioning the drug companies' party line. If they are not afraid of being sued, they are certainly afraid of thinking differently or are just plain lazy as demonstrated by the abysmal state of the medical profession today.

Merck may have dodged a bullet with the Vioxx fiasco so it is now spending millions to promote Gardasil to make up for the profits lost with Vioxx.

Meanwhile Wyeth is spending hundreds of millions fighting in court to get rid of the more than 5000 law complaints against it in the Premarin/Prempro class action suit. Somewhat surprisingly Wyeth still has the money to market Premarin to the doctors and the media so it continues to maintain its position as the premier HRT drug in the U.S. even though scientific data have proven it flawed and dangerous since 1970s and it has been clearly established that hundreds of thousands of women have gotten cancer, strokes and heart attacks from taking it.

Adding insult to injury, Wyeth is trying to get an antidepressant approved by the FDA to become the treatment of choice for hot flashes. How outrageous is that?

This is only the tip of the iceberg.

Birth control pills known to increase the risk of cancer are still being prescribed and dutifully taken by millions of women, antidepressants who turn us into suicidal zombies are first line therapy for millions and menopause is a condition women are still suffering with while either being treated with dangerous drugs or discarded as crazy in our present healthcare system.

It's time to take responsibility for our own lives. Become smart, stop allowing someone else (drug company, doctor, advertisement) to tell you what is right for you.

Place the truth and your health first and money last on your list of priorities.

If you are in charge of your own life, no longer a victim or intimidated by the medical profession or swayed by the drug companies marketing strategies the world will get better.

Doctors will become real doctors again and fulfill their mission to serve you, the drug industry will become a vehicle for scientific advance in the public service and our economy will be driven by a value system that works to make our lives honestly better.

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