cited in 2007 as a potential danger, has indeed become one at the rate of around 500 heart attacks and 300 cases of heart failure per month. The fine of $2.1 billion after taxes -- which may seem large to most -- is less than a third of Glaxo's annual profit.
Avandia was not banned; by a 20-12 decision it can continue to be sold to the very same segment of the population that it is likely to continue harming. The fine is nothing compared to the continued profits that will result from the FDA's current refusal to pull this killer drug off the market.
A Wall Street Journal opinion piece rejoiced and investors cheered over the decision, while the New York Times reported:
Investors cheered the news, though, as stock analysts said the action by the Federal Drug Administration was better than expected and the $2.1 billion charge set a likely ceiling on the company’s legal liabilities.
The stock rose late Wednesday after the advisory committee voted, and again Thursday after the announcement of the charge for legal issues. The stock ended the day up 2.3 percent, to $37.21 in a market that declined slightly overall and rose slightly in most other pharmaceutical stocks. Since a low point on Wednesday afternoon before the F.D.A. vote, GlaxoSmithKline stock has risen nearly 5 percent.
Investors are delighted that, assuming the F.D.A. opts only for a stronger warning, Avandia will remain on the market, Jeremy Batstone-Carr, a pharmaceutical sector analyst at Charles Stanley & Company in London, said.
The FDA has a history of choosing the profits of Big Pharma over the safety of the American people. But, hey, it's a multi-trillion-dollar business. That's a very long gravy train. It is a gravy train that is long enough to allow for more deaths from conventional medicine than from terrorism and illegal drugs combined. Here is a small list of of the toll:
- Pain killers: 16,000 plus per year, and rising by double-digit percentages. This doesn't include the scandal of Vioxx that caused between 25,000 and 50,000 deaths alone.
- Antidepressants: The most frequently prescribed class of drugs; 60,000 prescriptions written every hour. Millions of adverse reactions. Hundreds of thousands of deaths.
- Stimulants: 2.5 million children receive stimulants to treat ADHD. The most popular is Ritalin -- linked to a 500% increase in sudden death among children.
- Over-the-counter drugs: Acetaminophen in medications such as Tylenol can be highly toxic, resulting in the #1 cause of liver and kidney damage. Cough and cold medications have been linked to an increase in infant deaths, as well as abuse by teens -- on par with marijuana use, but far more damaging.
- Ephedra: An herbal stimulant linked to a handful of deaths. Although Ephedra is natural, it was banned, while the mass-produced, chemical version known as Sudafed is sold legally in pharmacies.
- Vitamin B-6 (pyridoxaimine): Naturally occurring in fish and chicken.
- Raw foods: Apparently raw almonds are a risk to Americans. They have been made illegal by the FDA, despite much evidence to suggest they are effective in preventing cancer. A government war on raw milk has been declared, despite a several-thousand-year history of sound nutrition. Pasteurization leads to dead food (but a long shelf-life), which is the name of the game in a consumer-driven world.
We need to grow up and admit to ourselves that Big Business, and the agencies that protect them, will continue to make a killing for their investors by their manufactured overthrow of the natural world.