Exclusive: Glaxo whistleblower goes public with shocking details of bribery, marketing fraud and other pharma crimesSubmitted by Amerianne on Tue, 07/17/2012 - 10:49
(NaturalNews) GlaxoSmithKline employee and whistleblower Blair Hamrick has helped make medical history. Together with his colleague Gregory Thorpe, Blair blew the whistle on criminal practices taking place inside GlaxoSmithKline which have now led to the largest criminal admission and financial settlement in the history of western medicine. GSK is paying a $3 billion fine while pleading guilty to felony crimes.
These allegations are vast and disturbing. They include:
From 1997 to the present and continuing, GSK's marketing plan, devised at a senior executive level, has been to "Exploit the Bolus" of government-funded healthcare programs such as Medicaid and Tricare, with the direct and intended effect of causing the submission of false claims to such programs as identified herein.
GSK has illegally and fraudulently promoted and marketed the sale of its drugs for off label, non-medically accepted uses... As part of this scheme, GSK overtly and aggressively targeted physicians identified by GSK's prescription tracking methods to have the largest volumes of patients enrolled in government-funded healthcare programs such as Medicaid and Tricare.
GSK has paid illegal remuneration (i.e. kickbacks) to physicians and other health care providers with the purpose and intent of inducing those physicians and healthcare providers to prescribe GSK drugs in return in violation of the federal Anti-Kickback law and the analogous anti-kickback laws of the Plaintiff States.
The following are all quotes from Blair Hamrick, as found in this Health Ranger Report interview with Mike Adams.
How it all began:
It started out, we were discussing where the company was going and how the company had taken a turn asking us to do unethical and illegal things. Selling drugs off label. Selling drugs to children that the drug says specifically in its package insert this drug is not indicated for children under 18, but they were asking us specifically to sell it to children.
Being trained to sell drugs off label:
When we would have regional meetings, we would train on how to sell off label. How to find niche products for instance, like Wellbutrin, it was indicated for depression, but then apparently they were not satisfied with the amount of money they were making, so they started pushing it for weight loss, for pediatrics, for sexual dysfunction. You've probably heard the quote, this catch phrase went around to doctors you could only see for a brief second. Hey doc, remember Wellbutrin is the happy horny skinny drug. These are catch phrases that drills the name of the drug in the back of the doctor's mind, and they get duped into writing prescriptions for a product that may not be appropriate.
When a company actively markets a drug that is not indicated for a specific disease state, that is a violation of the law. ...And it's commonplace.
About spinning side effects:
With those studies, you're trained to focus on how well it works, but don't focus on the side effects so much. You don't really want to bring that one up. If they ask the questions, then you can address it, but let's spin it in a very positive manner.
[We would say] well, doctor, the insomnia [side effect] is transient. So it's only a problem for the first couple of days. Once your patients acclimate to the drug, the insomnia will fade away. So it's a spin machine.
For instance the drug Advair for asthma. They came out with the S.M.A.R.T. data, showed an increase incidence of death in African American people. So the study was stopped, they had black box warnings in the package insert, we were trained to tell the doctors well, doctor, you know most people of lower socioeconomic conditions are not compliant with their medications, so with Advair you don't have to worry about your patients not taking their inhaled corticosteroid because Advair is a combination of an inhaled corticosteroid and a long-acting beta-agonist. So it's always a spin, so they were basically, according to our complaint, taking a very negative dangerous outcome of a drug [study] and trying to spin it as positive.
About corporate responsibility for products that harm consumers:
When you look at a drug like Wellbutrin, and it has a 0.1% incidence of seizure, that's one in a thousand, but if you're that one person that has a seizure, it's 100 percent [for you]. Where [we] drew the line is realizing that if a child has a seizure, who's responsible? Is it the doctor? Is it me? Is it the company? Where does the buck stop? And unfortunately in the corporate world, there are so many veils of protection that... they're a corporate defendant which is nothing more than a table full of attorneys, and nobody pays the price.
It's offensive. In my opinion, they have no regard whatsoever for precious human life. ...But I have suffered nothing compared to a parent whose child has committed suicide on Paxil. Imagine how horrifying that is. It's so repulsive. You're just talking about a bad company run by bad people, in my opinion.
About holding drug company CEOs criminally responsible for their acts:
When will the public be outraged and say enough is enough? Because this kind of behavior will continue until somebody goes to prison. They're hurting our children. It's offensive, it's immoral, it's unethical, and for a company to have the slogan of letting people do more, and live longer and do better, and then hide behind that slogan [while] you're telling your sales reps to sell off-label to children... how evil does it get? It just doesn't get any more evil than that.
Illegal kickbacks and the bribery of doctors
I was promoted when I was with Glaxo, after about two years with Glaxo, to a specialty position, I was called a therapeutic area specialist. So one of my jobs was to recruit local speakers, to become trained on the drugs to go and speak to other physicians. You're taking them down the primrose path of payoffs.
First, they have to start writing the drug, and if they're not writing the drug enough, you have to get on them about that, then when they do a speaking program at $2,000 for 30 minutes -- anywhere from $500 to $2500 for a half-hour talk -- then if the message they are sending is not exactly the way you want it to go, then you coach the doctor about here's our marketing message, this is the point we want to get out to other physicians... so yes, I saw it firsthand.
I even had doctors who, when I walked into their office and they found out I was the therapeutic area specialist, they were like hey, can you set me up with the speaking program? Because it's extra money. There are even doctors out there, they make so much money on the speaking tours, they start hiring nurse practitioners or other doctors to see their patients, and they may only go into the office two or three times a month. Because they're out speaking. It's so lucrative. ...[they can make] $6,000 in one day to do three half-hour presentations. ...And most of the slide shows come from the company marketing departments.
At the time I left Glaxo, they had over 40,000 speakers on their speakers' bureau.
According to court documents, GlaxoSmithKline had actually developed a network of "speakers" (i.e. primarily doctors receiving kickbacks for writing prescriptions) totaling 49,000