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June 6, 2010

WHO\’s reaction to H1N1 influenced by drug companies, reports claim

WHO’s reaction to H1N1 influenced by drug companies, reports claim

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Sunday, June 6, 2010

Reports suggest the World Health Organisation’s declaring a swine flu pandemic was an error driven by drug companies, and lead to unjustified fear. A year after the swine flu pandemic was declared, stocks are left unused and governments try to abandon contracts, pharmaceutical companies have profited at least £4.6billion from the sale of vaccines alone.

Reports by the British Medical Journal (BMJ), the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ) and the Council of Europe claim that The World Health Organisation reaction to H1N1 was influenced by pharmaceutical companies and that key scientists behind advice had financial ties with firms Roche and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). These conflicts of interest have never been publicly disclosed by WHO, an apparent violation of its own rules.

The World Health Organisation issued H1N1 guidelines in 2004, recommending countries to stockpile millions of doses of antiviral medication. The advice prompted many countries around the world into buying up large stocks of Tamiflu, made by Roche, and Relenza manufactured by GSK.

A joint investigation with the BMJ and the BIJ, found that scientists involved in developing the WHO 2004 guidance had previously been paid by Roche or GSK for lecturing and consultancy work as well as being involved in research for the companies. “The WHO’s credibility has been badly damaged,” BMJ editor Fiona Godlee said in an editorial.

A report by the health committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, a 47-member human rights watchdog, found that the WHO’s reaction was influenced by drug companies that make H1N1 antiviral drugs and vaccines. It criticised WHO lack of transparency around the handling of the swine flu pandemic and says the public health guidelines by WHO, EU agencies and national governments led to a “waste of large sums of public money and unjustified scares and fears about the health risks faced by the European public.”

Cquote1.svg We’re still in the pandemic Cquote2.svg

—Margaret Chan of the World Health Organisation said yesterday.

A spokesman for WHO said the drug industry did not influence its decisions on swine flu. Margaret Chan, the organisation’s director, had dismissed inquiries into its handling of the A/H1N1 pandemic as “conspiracy theories” earlier this year, she had said: “WHO anticipated close scrutiny of its decisions, but we did not anticipate that we would be accused, by some European politicians, of having declared a fake pandemic on the advice of experts with ties to the pharmaceutical industry and something personal to gain from increased industry profits.”

Yesterday, a 16-member “emergency committee” consisting of advisors from the World Health Organisation said that the H1N1 pandemic is not yet over. The WHO has refused to identify committee members, arguing that they must be shielded from industry pressure, so possible conflicts of interest with drug companies are unknown. The BMJ report also reveals that at least one expert on the “emergency committee” received payment during 2009 from GSK.

In related news, Reuters reported, Pfizer Inc, the world’s biggest drugmaker, is selling its swine vaccine business to Chinese Harbin Pharmaceutical Group for $50 million.

Related news

  • “WHO: H1N1 influenza virus still a pandemic” — Wikinews, June 4, 2010

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June 11, 2009

Venezuela bans Coke Zero over unspecified health problems

Venezuela bans Coke Zero over unspecified health problems

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Coca-Cola Zero

Coke Zero, a product of the Coca-Cola Company has been banned in Venezuela by the government. Jesús Mantilla, the health minister for Venezuela stated the ban is to preserve the health of Venezuelans but did not specify what problems could be caused with consuming Coke Zero. Coca-Cola agreed to abide by the ban but claimed that Coke Zero contained no harmful ingredients.

“Coca Cola Zero is made under the highest quality standards around the world and meets the sanitary requirements demanded by the laws of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela,” said Coca Cola in a statement.

Coke Zero, which was first sold in 2005 in the United States, was launched in Venezuela in April and Coca-Cola Femsa, the Mexican company who bottles the drink, hoped to increase the market share for low calorie drinks by up to 200 percent. Coke Zero contains no sugar and was created to be an alternative to Coca-Cola Classic.

Venezuela is currently in the process of nationalizing much of its economy. Earlier in the year the government seized a rice mill and a pasta factory owned by American food production company, Cargill. Legal action has also been threatened against pharmaceutical company Pfizer.



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November 4, 2008

Genentech seeks accelerated FDA approval for brain tumor treatment

Genentech seeks accelerated FDA approval for brain tumor treatment

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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

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The most common type of brain tumor, glioblastoma, may be getting a new FDA-approved treatment soon. Yesterday the pharmaceutical firm Genentech announced that it is requesting accelerated approval for its drug Avastin (bevacizumab) as a glioblastoma treatment. Avastin is already approved for use on lung, colon and breast cancers. Promising results in Phase II clinical trials led the company to seek early approval before Phase III trials for glioblastoma, a condition that has high mortality rates and few treatment options. The FDA sometimes grants early approval of treatments for life-threatening conditions when early studies show good results.

Cquote1.svg This is a devastating disease and people with glioblastoma desperately need new treatment options Cquote2.svg

—Dr. Hal Barron, chief medical officer for Genentech

Dr. Hal Barron, chief medical officer for Genentech, told the press “There has been no substantial improvement in the treatment of glioblastoma in more than 20 years… This is a devastating disease and people with glioblastoma desperately need new treatment options.” Glioblastoma is an incurable condition with a median survival time of less than one year. Only about five percent of patients survive for five years. In Phase II clinical trials of Avastin on 167 patients, 43 percent of patients saw no increase in tumor size after six months. Existing tumors decreased in size by at least 50 percent in twenty-eight percent of patients. Phase III clinical trials for Avastin as a brain tumor treatment are scheduled to begin early next year. The trials will evaluate Avastin together with chemotherapy and radiation.

Avastin works by inhibiting angiogenesis: the development of new blood vessels. Fast growing tumors such as glioblastoma need a rapidly growing supply of blood vessels in order to spread. Side effects associated with Avastin include hypertension, convulsion, intestinal perforation, and slow wound healing. There were two patient deaths associated with side effects from the study, yet the study as a whole yielded a significantly longer average life expectancy than glioblastoma patients normally have.

Approximately 19,000 primary brain tumors were diagnosed in the United States last year. 60 percent were gliomas, including glioblastoma. In most of North America and Europe, incidence of glioblastoma each year is 2-3 cases per 100,000 persons.

A single course of Avastin treatment costs approximately US$40,000. News reports gave conflicting information about Avastin sales for the first 9 months of 2008, with figures ranging from US$700 million to US$2 billion. Sales included approved treatments plus off-label use. Genentech shares recently rose 0.8 percent to US$83.64. Relatively few pharmaceutical firms are developing treatments for glioblastoma. Others include Pfizer in collaboration with Avant Immunotherapeudics for vaccine development. Myriad Genetics is developing a drug Azixa for primary and metastatic brain tumors.



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January 22, 2007

Pfizer to cut jobs in Michigan

Pfizer to cut jobs in Michigan – Wikinews, the free news source

Pfizer to cut jobs in Michigan

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Monday, January 22, 2007

Pfizer CEO Jeffery Kindler has announced that 2,410 jobs will be cut in Michigan, taking out three plants in the state. Pfizer has also announced that they will cut a total of 10 000 jobs by next year. The Ann Arbor, Kalamazoo, and Plymouth sites are representatives of the world’s largest drug manufacturing company.

A portion of these jobs will be reassigned in Pfizer plants in cities such as La Jolla, CA, Groton, CT, and Sandwich in the United Kingdom. These cuts come after Pfizer’s newest drug in development, torcetrapib, was scrapped late last year due to unexpected side effects.

The money spent researching the drug Torcetrapib ended with the loss of millions of dollars. This comes as a bigger blow to the region when coupled with ongoing losses to major car manufacturers in the Detroit area, and Gov. Jennifer Granholm said today, “We’re going to have a whole ‘Stick Around Ann Arbor’ campaign for these employees, because we want them to stay here.”

Among the other groups affected are Ann Arbor schools, to whom Pfizer pays millions of dollars, and local businesses. Most employees declined comment, as they are being asked by Pfizer not to talk with the media.

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January 28, 2006

FDA approves therapeutic use of insulin inhalant

FDA approves therapeutic use of insulin inhalant

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Saturday, January 28, 2006

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of an inhalable form of insulin for treating both forms of diabetes in adults. The product, manufactured by Pfizer Inc. is called Exubera and is a inhaled powder form of recombinant short-acting human insulin (rDNA).

Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that, when released into the blood, controls the upper limits of glucose presence in the bloodstream. Diabetics cannot produce (enough) insulin on their own, and have to control their blood sugars by appropriate diet, exercise and medication. Untreated Diabetes can have a serious adverse effect on health, it can lead to higher risk of cardiovascular disease, kidney failure, retinal damage and diabetic shock, which can be fatal. Insulin has been used for the treatment of diabetes for many years now, but some patients find it difficult (and costly) to use as it has to be injected into the body, usually several times a day. Currently, about five million Americans take insulin injections. Also, the use of any form of insulin can cause blood sugar to drop below safe levels, a condition called hypoglycemia. As a result, the use of insulin must be accompanied by a careful and regular monitoring of blood sugar levels.

The FDA has issued guidelines that the inhalable form should not be used by smokers, patients with asthma, bronchitis, or emphysema as tests have shown that its use can reduce the breathing capacity of the lungs. Other side effects associated with Exubera therapy seen in clinical trials included cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, and dry mouth. The FDA has given its approval on the basis of safety studies of short-term use and studies of its effects over long-term use are underway.

Pfizer has said the product wouldn’t be widely available until June or July and that exact prices haven’t been set. A Pfizer spokesperson has said that the price will be “competitive” to injected insulin.

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July 13, 2005

Study: Socialized Canadian surgery half the U.S. cost with same results

Study: Socialized Canadian surgery half the U.S. cost with same results

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Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Americans pay twice as much for heart-bypass surgery as the socialized Canadian system, with no difference in outcome, according to today’s issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine in a study funded by American drug company, Pfizer Inc.. The research found that heart bypass surgery costs an average of $10,373 in Canada, compared with $20,673 in the United States. Even though the costs were double in the United States, the rate of complications and death following bypass surgery was similar.

High administrative costs and overtreatment are usually blamed for the higher cost in the profit-driven U.S. system. Americans spent $5,635 per capita on health care in 2003, while only $3,003 was spent by Canadians. Health spending accounts for almost 15 per cent of gross domestic product in the U.S. and just under 10 per cent in Canada; while at the same time, all Canadian residents are full covered. In addition, the average Canadian lives 2 years longer than the average American.

This is one of the first studies directly comparing the costs of surgery in Canada and the United States and it reinforces the view of Dr. Mark Eisenberg, head of cardiovascular epidemiology at Jewish General Hospital in Montreal; “The conventional wisdom is that health care is much more expensive in the U.S. and the conventional wisdom is right.” by finding that Canada’s socialized system is far more cost efficient than the U.S. model.

The cost of medications used to treat bypass patients were as much as 68 percent greater in the U.S. than in Canada and the cost of a surgical bed was 36 percent greater in the U.S.. In Canada, nursing accounted for 44 percent of the treatment costs, compared with 21 percent in the U.S. and patients stayed longer in hospital following surgery in Canada.

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April 16, 2005

Levitra ads pulled by FDA

Levitra ads pulled by FDA – Wikinews, the free news source

Levitra ads pulled by FDA

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Levitra “reminder” ads pulled from TV

Saturday, April 16, 2005

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has penned a stiff reminder to drug giants Bayer Pharmaceuticals Corp. and GlaxoSmithKline PLC: pull your 15-second “reminder” ad for the erectile dysfunction drug, Levitra, off TV.

FDA said there is no evidence Levitra is better than rival drugs Viagra from Pfizer, or Cialis, owned by Eli Lilly and Co., in producing results that make female partners happy.

Levitra and Cialis together control about 30 per cent of the market for such drugs, but Pfizer takes the majority share.

Reminder ads can only call attention to a drug, not claim it works better, or at all.

“In one of [the ad’s] scenes, the man strokes the woman’s hair and face as she affectionately puts her hand on his wrist,” the FDA wrote. “In the other, she puts her arms around his neck and they embrace.”

“The totality of the TV ad also represents or suggests that Levitra will provide a satisfying sexual experience from the female partner’s perspective,” the agency wrote.

Glaxo spokesman Michael Fleming said the drug makers would comply. Bayer developed Levitra and partnered with Glaxo to market the pills in 2001. Bayer recently turned its part of the promotion over to Schering-Plough Corp.

Shares of Bayer fell 75 cents to $32.96 on Friday. Shares of GlaxoSmithKline rose 32 cents to close at $47.82. Schering-Plough shares rose 8 cents to end at $20.65.

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February 13, 2005

Pfizer and Microsoft team up against Viagra spam

Pfizer and Microsoft team up against Viagra spam

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Sunday, February 13, 2005

New York –”Buy cheap Viagra through us – no prescription required!” Anyone with an active email account will recognize lines like this one. According to some reports, unsolicited advertisements (spam) for Viagra and similar drugs account for one in four spam messages.

BACKGROUND

Spamming remains one of the biggest problems facing email users today. While users and systems administrators have improved their defenses against unsolicited email, many spammers now insert random words or characters into their letters in order to bypass filters. The Wikipedia article Stopping email abuse provides an overview of the various strategies employed by companies, Internet users and systems administrators to deal with the issue.

Ever since pharmaceutical giant Pfizer promised to cure erectile dysfunction once and for all with its blue pills containing the drug sildenafil citrate, spammers have tried to tap into male anxiety by offering prescription-free sales of unapproved “generic” Viagra and clones such as Cialis soft tabs. Legislation like the U.S. CAN-SPAM act has done little to stem the tide of email advertising the products.

Now Pfizer has entered a pledge with Microsoft Corporation, the world’s largest software company, to address the problem. The joint effort will focus on lawsuits against spammers as well as the companies they advertise. “Pfizer is joining with Microsoft on these actions as part of our shared pledge to reduce the sale of these products and to fight the senders of unsolicited e-mail that overwhelms people’s inboxes,” said Jeff Kindler, executive vice president at Pfizer.

Microsoft has filed civil actions against spammers advertising the websites CanadianPharmacy and E-Pharmacy Direct. Pfizer has filed lawsuits against the two companies, and has taken actions against websites which use the word “Viagra” in their domain names. Sales of controlled drugs from Canadian pharmacies to the United States are illegal, but most drugs sold in Canada have nevertheless undergone testing by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This is not the case for many of the Viagra clones sold by Internet companies and manufactured in countries like China and India. While it was not clear that CanadianPharmacy was actually shipping drugs from Canada, Pfizer’s general counsel, Beth Levine, claimed that the company filled orders using a call center in Montreal, reported the Toronto Star.

For Microsoft’s part, they allege that the joint effort with Pfizer is part of their “multi-pronged attack on the barrage of spam.” As the creator of the popular email program Outlook, Microsoft has been criticized in the past for the product’s spam filtering process. Recently, Microsoft added anti-spam measures to its popular Exchange server. Exchange 2003 now includes support for accessing so-called real-time block lists, or RTBLs. An RTBL is a list of the IP addresses maintained by a third party; the addresses on the list are those of mailservers thought to have sent spam recently. Exchange 2003 can query the list for each message it receives.

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The first version of this story was written by Pingswept and Eloquence using MoonEdit, a free editor for real-time collaboration. As such, it is an experiment in collaborative writing.

This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

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