Tenured Radical Hatches Anti-Capitalist Conspiracy.

An October 2015 email to Turing Pharmaceuticals from a University of North Carolina professor.

Given your company’s recent move to raise the price of pyrimethamine over 5,000% to an incredible $750 a pill, I have decided not to meet with representatives from Turing. … I am also urging my colleagues here at UNC, as well as at Duke, ECU, Wake Forest and other clinical centers across our state to do likewise, until Turing announces a reasonable and ethical reduction in the price of this important medication — a drug we rely on most to treat toxoplasmosis.

********

UD thanks dmf.

Gonna take a sedimental journey…

… to jail.

As Bernie Sanders Surges, Here’s a Way to Understand What He Means by All that “One-Tenth of One Percent” Income Inequality Rhetoric.

According to a Senate report released in December, Gilead knew pricing Sovaldi at $75,000 per patient for a 12-month course would restrict patient access by 24% of US payers, and yet it still ended up seeking $84,000 for it. The company priced Harvoni at an even higher $94,500, such that last year barely 2% of the eligible [hepatitis C virus] patients in the US were treated with the drugs.

Sure, that’s much more than one-tenth of one percent.

Nonetheless. Get the picture? Only a small number of rich people get to be cured.

Gilead is so depraved that the Massachusetts Attorney General is stepping in (though she probably can’t do much about it). Yet the story hasn’t even gotten much press, because as Americans we’re so used to homicidal greed.

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Sanders owns this reality. He’s running with it. He’s running on it.

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The letter from the AG went out to Gilead CEO John Martin, a man who has brought his depravity to the board of trustees at the University of Chicago.

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The lovely larger picture.

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Never before has Norman Mailer’s immortal statement felt so true: The shits are killing us.

Payback’s a Bitch.

[Tasmanian physician James Freeman said] “The price [for Gilead’s hepatitis medication] was set at the absolute maximum the market could bear, with absolutely no respect for the fact that it was going to bankrupt the Veterans’ administration or Medicaid – it is extraordinary pricing for a medication. It’s dreadfully sad that we have invented a cure for one of the five big infectious disease killers in the world and we’re not deploying it.”

Well, Gilead needs to make a profit, doesn’t it (Gilead’s 2014 gross profit margin: 85%)? What the HBeAg you gonna do about it?

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Actually, turns out that in response to the rancid greed of this company the whole world is producing Gilead antibodies. They’re attacking Gilead’s profits in any number of ways.

They’re setting up buyers’ clubs to get the drugs more cheaply from other countries. They’ve staged such loud street and social media protests that Gilead has now joined Goldman Sachs in the Most Popular American Corporations Club.

A writer in Seeking Alpha keens:

Alas, in the wake of [Gilead’s] giant financial success, patients, insurance companies and government officials are getting perturbed by the greed. The company has had a great couple of years. Massachusetts Attorney General Mara Healey was on CNBC today (01/28/16) attacking the ethics of Gilead Sciences’ pricing of its Hepatitis C drug treatments. State governments making moves on drug prices would be great for patients, but an absolute nightmare for shareholders.

It’s worse than that.

Gilead must contend not only with a shrinking number of patients, as more sufferers are cured, but also the prospect of implementing price cuts to stop health insurers switching patients to Merck’s drug.

Impending competition is bad enough; there’s also the fact that once you cure the fuckers you run out of desperate people to bankrupt.

Watch for Gilead to launch a massive new investment in dirty needles.

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The company does have something nice to look forward to. CEO John Martin’s retirement party will reportedly feature a chorus line of hepatitis-free, newly homeless people.

Now that the filthy business of paying doctors to promote new pills has gotten so filthy that even…

… GlaxoSmithKline has stopped doing it, UD notes this lament for the end of the practice.

But, of course, [people will say,] these experts are being PAID. How can they be trusted?

Well, can we really expect experts to do this on a pro bono basis? I doubt that any of us would agree to take time to do this sort of work for free.

How in the world can you expect to find one doctor or researcher in the United States willing to review – FOR FREE! – the data on a new drug that might benefit millions?

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More on GSK’s decision:

Neil Barnes, head of respiratory medicines for GSK, says the days of drug companies paying for doctors to attend conferences to listen to doctors paid to speak are coming to end. “It is going to be like smoking on aeroplanes. People will look back and say ‘did we really used to do that?’”

But of course the scandal is what pharma continues to do.

Adriane Fugh-Berman, associate professor of pharmacology at Georgetown University in Washington and an activist for more transparency in drug marketing, says that while GSK’s reforms remove the conflict of interest for individual doctors they do not remove the wider problem of industry influence over medics. “I would be much more impressed if they were getting out of medical education altogether,” she says.

They write it for you, they pay you, you get the publication credit.

What’s not to like?

“A woman who feels sexual desire for about 50% of her waking hours scores only 3 out of 5 on the first question. To score a 5, one must feel sexual desire ‘always or almost always’.”

“[One female sexual desire questionnaire] consists of five yes-or-no questions that ‘…may be filled out by patients in the waiting room’. A scoring guide is provided. [Another] contains a long list of questions and a scoring system, but no information on interpreting the scores. It is apparently up to the clinician to determine who passes or fails. The researcher who published the questionnaire confirmed that there are no cut-off scores (Raymond Rosen, Ph.D., Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, personal communication).

The first question in [one] questionnaire asks, ‘Over the past 4 weeks, how often did you feel sexual desire or interest?’ and the patient is given options that range from ‘almost never or never’ to ‘almost always or always’. A woman who feels sexual desire for about 50% of her waking hours scores only 3 out of 5 on the first question. To score a 5, one must feel sexual desire ‘always or almost always’.”

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Manfully they mount me, the pharma bros.

“Are you sure you feel the thrill
From the top of your head to your toes
Every moment? Take this pill
That we made for you, and no more know
The shame of two seconds that pass
Before you crave another piece of ass.”

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“Treatments developed to enhance female libido, including the testosterone patch, Viagra (sildenafil), Libigel (a testosterone gel) and flibanserin, have all failed to obtain Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval.

Of these three, only flibanserin is still in the running. Flibanserin has been rejected twice. A failed antidepressant developed by Boehringer Ingelheim, flibanserin was recast as a treatment for hypoactive sexual desire disorder. In October 2010, after an FDA advisory committee concluded that there was little evidence that flibanserin increased libido and that the drug caused an unacceptable level of adverse effects, Boehringer Ingelheim abandoned developing the drug and sold it to Sprout Pharmaceuticals in 2011. In October 2013, the FDA denied Sprout Pharmaceuticals permission to market flibanserin. The company has resubmitted its application … ”

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Manfully they mount the FDA, the pharma bros.

“How to lift the stigma of frigidity
From your drug approval committee?
We will mount and mount and mount
Until you grant approval to Sprout.
Nothing in your total rejection
Dims our lust for our disease-confection.”

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“Fourteen [Continuing Medical Education] modules on hypoactive sexual desire disorder in women were identified. All were fully accredited CME modules, approved by a provider accredited by the Accreditation Council of CME. All 14 CME modules disclosed funding through educational grants by [the drug maker]. Additionally, 12 of 14 modules had at least one author with financial ties to [the drug maker].”

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Manfully they mount the CMEs, the pharma bros.

“There is nothing we so adore
As your basic pharma whore.
With UD and the FDA
We put on a bogus display:
Compassion, social justice, fake research…
Ha! You’d ne’er besmirch
The essence of our pharma-fucks:
Pharma-lies for pharma-bucks.

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(Great news! It’s been approved! A grateful nation breaks down the doors at Valeant ((that Valeant?)) to get it.)

American Academe’s ‘Centers for the Absorption of Federal Funds’…

… chronicled in this book, are entertaining places, and no doubt this new year we’ll continue following them at their most efficient, at the nation’s for-profit colleges.

But this country’s Centers for the Absorption of Corporate Funds deserve equal attention. Indeed these are arguably even more entertaining places, because while the federal government simply acts the well-meaning idiot as it dispenses hundreds of millions of dollars to hedgies pretending to run schools, corporations are often brilliant operators with bad motives — and it’s always more fascinating to watch the strategic villain than the bumbling good guy.

UD doesn’t claim that corporations looking for academic respectability in order, for instance, to hook America on opioids, always exhibit strategic brilliance. Crucially, they must identify research units within American universities able to balance compromised data (papers and presentations must uncover the urgent necessity plus the safety of massively increased pain pill intake) with the continued appearance of scientific integrity, a scheme fraught with difficulty. It’s not uncommon for reporters, and even politicians, to notice that a place like the University of Wisconsin’s Pain and Policy Studies Group is an almost wholly owned subsidiary of pharma, as it stashes away more and more OxyContin money while pumping out more and more Oxy Rocks! research.

Coca Cola, fast food, over-prescribed anti-depressants, over-prescribed anti-psychotics for toddlers, Dr. Shkreli’s Miracle Elixirs… All of these substances need whitewashing, and the university is where that happens. When things get too obvious, or when from the start they’re mishandled (remember what brought down Virginia’s last governor), the Centers suddenly shut down, or suddenly announce they’ve decided to stop taking corporate money…

Understanding the Etiology of the Many Pfizer Professorships in Obesity

It’s simple to understand, actually. Fat cats like to study profit-fattening.

While other pharmaceutical companies don’t raise their drug prices fifty-fold in one fell swoop, as did [Martin] Shkreli, they would if they thought it would lead to fat profits.

Most have been increasing their prices more than 10 percent a year – still far faster than inflation – on drugs used on common diseases like cancer, high cholesterol, and diabetes.

This has imposed a far bigger burden on health spending than Shkreli’s escapades, making it much harder for Americans to pay for drugs they need. Even if they’re insured, most people are paying out big sums in co-payments and deductibles.

Not to mention the impact on private insurers, Medicare, state Medicaid, prisons and the Veterans Health Administration.

And the prices of new drugs are sky-high. Pfizer’s new one to treat advanced breast cancer costs $9,850 a month.

According to an analysis by the Wall Street Journal, that price isn’t based on manufacturing or research costs.

Instead, Pfizer set the price as high as possible without pushing doctors and insurers toward alternative drugs.

How fat can our profits get? How can we go almost as far as Shkreli without attracting attention? How expandable, when you get down to it, is greed?

To the Biederman, Anversa, and Hauser Hall of Fame at Harvard…

… we can now add Calestous Juma, a Kennedy School prof laboring mightily to do the bidding of his corporate besties at Monsanto as together they make the world safe for modified crops.

UD ain’t claiming Juma’s a pioneer in the business of exploiting one’s connection to Harvard to fuck with research results and/or earn millions in questionable corporate and other supporting funds and/or let corporations write your papers for you; Joseph Biederman got there long before Juma, as did, allegedly, Piero Anversa, and good ol’ Marc Hauser. UD‘s only claiming that the tradition of selling yourself and Harvard to, uh, interested corporations continues to thrive at that school.

Attention Martin Shkreli!!!

More drugs in the pipeline!

Bravo, West Virginia University.

This blog has dumped on WVU for its sports-nuttiness and of course for Mr Coca Cola.

But look what a modest lab there did. It uncovered the Volkswagen fuel fraud.

Wow. UD knew tuition was high at her university…

… But there’s also this:

[A] D.C. man who received care from George Washington University Hospital in March … said he requested a copy of his electronic medical records in April. He initially received a bill for $32.32 for seven pages copied at 76 cents per page, as well as the “basic fee” of $22.88 and shipping and handling fees.

But in July, he received a second bill for $430.20 including copying fees for more than 500 pages of records.

UD will admit to failing to understand, so far, the facts of this and a related, Georgetown University, lawsuit. She can only find one article about it so far (the Washington Business Journal charged her $5,000 to copy it**), and if you read it I think you’ll agree it’s rather confusing. OTOH, whatever the details of electronic v. paper, third parties, number of pages and how you determine that, etc., etc., she will assume that the basic fact of having to pay over five hundred dollars to get your medical records is astonishing. Maybe GW’s records vendor is one of the many businesses run by Martin Shkreli.

————

** Joke.

————-

Oh. Turns out this is old news for Shkreli Industries Incorporated. Drop in the bucket.

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Yes. HealthPort Technologies LLC. The Martin Shkreli of Medical Records.

Han and Hunton: Because Fraud Doesn’t Take Summers Off.

A mid-summer reminder from UD that research fraud – whopping big research fraud – is a year-round phenom at American universities. Two representative cases that have recently hit (re-hit; these stories have been kicking around for years) the news come from med and business schools, the two great incubators of research fraud. (Engineering schools do financial fraud, as in professors taking grant money and setting up secret businesses into which they divert said grant money.) (And let’s not forget psychology and sociology – two departments with extremely impressive histories of fraud, if not as impressive as med and biz schools, and with less capacity to inflict serious damage on humanity.)

UD reported on Bentley University’s James Hunton this time last year; he’d been fired from Bentley back in 2012, when the school managed to overcome Hunton’s total refusal to cooperate with their investigation of one made-up research paper (the number of such papers has risen to 31) to can his ass. (Subject of Hunton’s research: fraud.)

The Washington Post provides an update:

One of the nation’s premier academic journals of accounting has retracted 25 articles co-authored by a once-renowned professor who specialized in corporate ethics but was later accused of “fabricating” data.

The American Association of Accounting, which publishes the Accounting Review, issued the retractions last week based on a “pattern of misconduct” by James E. Hunton, who resigned from his position at Bentley University in Waltham, Mass., a business school with nearly 6,000 graduate and undergraduate students.

The hunt’s on for Hunton:

Hunton has made no public comment on the allegations against him. Neither The Post nor Retraction Watch has been able to locate him now or last year when The Post, the Boston Globe and other news outlets wrote about the results of Bentley’s investigation of Hunton.

For a guy like Hunton, who had the balls to make up vast swathes of accounting firm employees across the globe, to pretend to interview them, to create copious data about them, and to write it all up in probably hundreds of academic papers, the business of dropping out and changing his identity was probably a cinch. No doubt he’s living in Jamaica, having dyed his hair red, had facial surgery, and stolen the identity of some poor student he had twenty years ago. You ain’t gonna find Hunton.

Dong-Pyou Han not so much.

Dong-Pyou Han pleaded guilty in February to faking results in AIDS-vaccine experiments. Prosecutors say his actions led federal administrators to award an extra $7 million to $20 million in grants for the research, and they want him to serve prison time for his actions… [F]ederal research administrators were “flabbergasted” by the supposed success of [Han’s] experimental vaccine, which led them to increase the project’s financing. [Han’s fraud led his] research team to focus on the specific vaccine, when they could have been looking into more promising areas.

Faking results in the great pandemic of our time. Stand-up guy.

Anyway. Terrific blogs like Retraction Watch couldn’t exist without the steady stream of research fraud coming not just from the States, of course, but from all over the world.

The Dissers of Oz

UD has covered several stories involving, er, questionable physicians on the faculty of Columbia University. (Here’s the most recent.) The place attracts an odd lot, and of course med schools don’t pay much attention to their faculties, because there are absolutely tons of people vaguely affiliated with medical faculties and they’re doing God knows what.

One Columbia med school professor UD has always wondered about is Mehmet Oz, doc to the credulous unwashed masses. You see the guy get hauled up before Congress to explain why he’s pushing treatments in which he has massive financial interests; you watch him say stuff that… Well, let’s approach the latest news story about him by citing the headline in Gizmodo’s coverage:

DOCTORS ASK COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY TO
FIRE DR. OZ BECAUSE HE’S FULL OF SHIT

A bunch of docs at places other than Columbia have written a letter to the dean of the med school (they are “all distinguished,” the letter writers note). They want him removed from the premises.

And it’s actually a very good, very strong letter. Short and sour and way to the point – especially this bit:

Dr. Oz is guilty of either outrageous conflicts of interest or flawed judgements about what constitutes appropriate medical treatments, or both. Whatever the nature of his pathology, members of the public are being misled and endangered, which makes Dr. Oz’s presence on the faculty of a prestigious medical institution unacceptable.

Whatever the nature of his pathology. Ouch. Ooch. Eech.

Of course they can’t get rid of the dude. He’s probably already preparing a defamation whatever, plus his loyal minions will stage protests in their operating rooms or something. At best Columbia will muzzle him a little.

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