The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE), a UK government agency charged with deciding whether drugs should be subsidized by the British government, has been criticized by some patient groups for refusing to approve new and expensive drugs.
The pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly has announced that it will begin reporting its payments to doctors in late 2009, using an online database. But the disclosure is limited to payments of more than $500 made for giving talks or advice to the company; payments for other services or gifts will not be included. Payments made before 2009 will also not be disclosed.
According to a recent Gallup poll, the public has "a dimmer view of the pharmaceutical industry than they do of the advertising / public relations sector, if you can imagine such a thing," writes Mark Dolliver.
Three million people worldwide are taking the new, heavily advertised anti-cholesterol drugs Zetia and Vytorin, despite a lack of clinical evidence that they reduce cardiovascular disease or heart attacks, or help patients live longer.
An analysis of Merck internal documents concluded that the pharmaceutical company carried out a clinical study of Vioxx in 1999, "primarily to support a marketing campaign before the drug's launch." Merck stated that the study was done "to test side effects of the painkiller Vioxx," which was pulled from the market in 2004, after being linked to an increased risk of heart attacks.