With all of the settlements that Big Pharma has to pay, one might conclude that the industry is not stable enough to support itself; however, drug companies are experiencing growth and are commonly found on the Fortune 500 List (Law, 2006). According AlterNet, “Pharmaceutical companies have been hit with $14.8 billion in wrongdoing settlements in the last five years. But that’s still cheaper for Big Pharma than going about things the old-fashioned, legal way. So the fraud continues” (Rosenberg, np, 2010). Compared to what drug companies make annually, their settlements are a mere fine. An AstraZeneca settlement was $302 million because they were paying doctors to prescribe Seroquel®, an anti-psychotic drug, for unapproved uses. The one-time fee of $302 million dollars does not compare to their annual income of $32.8 billion. A Pfizer settlement was $2.3 billion for violations of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act due to excessively prescribing Bextra®, a painkiller, for uses not approved by the FDA. The $2.3 billion settlement is a rarity, but Pfizer is a larger company that makes $50 billion annually (Landman, 2010).
One of the smaller settlements was a Johnson & Johnson settlement for $700,000, which was the most severe in terms of health endangerment but yet the lowest in numerical value. Information about Levaquin® was withheld from the public; Levaquin® is a bacterial infection antibiotic. The settlement included over 2,600 claims surrounding Levaquin® (Llamas, 2016). On top of the settlement being one of the smallest and encompassing the numerous claims, Johnson & Johnson makes around $61.89 billion.
Pharmaceutical Companies fail to acknowledge the well-being of their patients and in-turn fail to treat them to the capabilities that modern technology allows. Hedgecoe and Martin (2013) examine the two visions that are emerging within the pharmaceutical industry. A field of study that researches and implements trials around genetically personalized drugs is forming in the mist of debate and controversy. Their essay explores the field of pharmacogenetics and how it has two possible ways of developing into an industry that can reduce the number of adverse drug reactions (ADRs). The way in which scientists are striving to achieve this is in one of two ways: either 1. study the genetic make-up of diseases and alter the drugs accordingly, or 2. study the patient’s genome and make a drug solely for them. The goal of distributing personalized drugs to patients is to reduce the side-effects which will lower the number of low suits against drug companies.
Hedgecoe, A. & Martin, P. (2013). The Drugs Don’t Work. Social Studies Of Science, 33(3), 327-364. doi:10.1177/03063127030333002
Landman, A. (2010). Pfizer and the Big Pharma Felons. PR Watch. Retrieved from http://www.prwatch.org/spin/2010/11/9645/pfizer-andbig-pharma-felons
Law, J. (2006). Big pharma (1st ed.). New York, NY: Carroll & Graf.
Llamas, M. (2016). FDA Says Risks May Outweigh Benefits for Antibiotics
Levaquin, Cipro. DrugWatch. Retrieved from https://www.drugwatch.com/2016/05/16/fda-black-box-warning-forlevaquin-cipro-antibiotic-risk/
Rosenberg, M. (2010). 15 Dirty Big Pharma Tricks That Rip You Off and Risk Your Health for Profit. AlterNet. Retrieved from http://www.alternet.org/story/149282/15_dirty_big_pharma_tricks_that_rip_you_off_and_risk_your_health_for_profit