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New research: Most vulnerable patients' victims of Big Pharma?

Cancer patients appear to be the newest victims of pharmaceutical companies more interested in profits than health.  Two-thirds of the new drugs that have been used to treat cancer don’t work.

Investigation shows why cancer drugs are failing

The Milwaukee Sentinel Journal broke the story about the drugs’ disappointing results last October.  The paper’s investigation revealed that after “four years on the market many of the drugs” were not increasing survival rates.  The findings were corroborated in 2015 by JAMA Internal Medicine, a publication of the American Medical Association.

Four years ago, the drugs were approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after “so called surrogate measures of effectiveness, such as scans” that showed tumor shrinkage.  “Surrogate measures” are not clinical trials.  They are” shorter, smaller and cheaper,” leading to questions about the FDA’s approval process.

Exorbitant cost of cancer drugs cited in the investigation

According to the paper, many of the 54 new cancer drugs it investigated cost an average of $10,000 a month.  Others are even more expensive.  Four cost $20,000 a month and one costs $40,000 a month. But they aren’t the first drugs, approved by the FDA on the say-so of drug companies out to make a profit that had no benefit or dangerous side effects.

Avandia, prime example of a dangerous drug approved by the FDA

Of all the prescription drugs that have ended up injuring or killing patients, Avandia is one of the worst. For nine years after the FDA approved it in 2006, it was the “go to” drug for Type-2 diabetes, marketed to unsuspecting doctors and patients worldwide.  Its manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline, knew that it “dramatically” raised “bad” cholesterol levels but was able to hide the evidence from the FDA.  According to some medical experts, Avandia caused “100,000 heart attacks” before its deadly side effect was exposed.

Medical devices get even less scrutiny from the FDA

In 2011, the Institute of Medicine urged the FDA to revise its approval method for medical devices since they are not tested before they hit the market.  It only takes a payment of $4,000 and the filing of some paperwork, to get FDA approval for a medical device, according to Consumer Reports.  Some devices have proven to be life-threatening.  Artificial joints, heart defibrillators and surgical mesh are among them.  These and other devices have failed with alarming frequency.  Since they are implanted in the body, it takes an operation to remove them, exposing the patient to even more danger and duress.

Lawsuits bring relief to victims

In 2013, GSK was ordered to pay $229 million to settle lawsuits filed on behalf of Avandia’s victims.  By then, the drug had racked up profits of $10.4 billion for GSK.  A large number of lawsuits against the ASR DuPuy hip replacement were settled when Johnson & Johnson agreed to pay victims $4 billion.

As long as the FDA continues its lax oversight of new drugs and medical devices, patients will continue to suffer.  Wayne Wright has successfully represented people caught in such tragic situations.  Consultations are free.  The firm does not charge clients unless it wins their cases.  Wayne Wright enjoys the distinction of being named one of the top 100 trial lawyers in the nation.