The global drug firm Roche has decided to withdraw from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association (PhRMA), the peak lobbying group for the U.S. drug industry.
"Prescription drug ads have drawn fire for portraying healthy-looking, active and smiling patients while explaining benefits and then rushing through or providing distractions when required risk information is presented," reports Reuters.
The Wall Street Journal has published a revealing story about one of the seamier sides of the drug industry's marketing campaigns: paying patients to offer testimonials about their drugs. As health industry observer Merrill Goozner explains, the story came to light because a "celebrity patient" had a "falling out with his corporate sponsor, Bristol-Myers Squibb.
The pharmaceutical company Merck "paid an undisclosed sum to Elsevier to produce several volumes of a publication that had the look of a peer-reviewed medical journal, but contained only reprinted or summarized articles -- most of which presented data favorable to Merck products." The Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine carried "ads for Fosamax, a Merck drug for osteoporosis, and Vioxx" and "appeared to act solely as market
"At the same time the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) was paying one of [Senator Orrin G. Hatch's] sons, Scott, to be its lobbyist in Congress," it and its drug company members were making major donations to a nonprofit organization that Senator Hatch helped found and actively supports.