After a hectic week between work and excessive blogging, I've finally caught up to the latest NYTimes articles on Eli Lilly's troubles with Zyprexa. I also read the NYT's editorial on the issue. The last paragraph caught my eye:
"Lilly contends that it has never promoted Zyprexa for unapproved uses and has always shown its marketing materials to the Food and Drug Administration, as required by law. Both claims ought to be tested in Congressional hearings that should focus on how well the industry complies with existing laws and how effectively the F.D.A. regulates the industry’s marketing materials."
Furious Seasons and CL Psych beat me to the punch on the skepticism. Congressional hearings would do nothing and I am even more skeptical of the FDA. Pharma companies like Lilly probably slip Dr. Andrew C. von Eschenbach some money to get their stuff approved. But I'm merely speculating because I'm tired and haven't done more research on this at the moment.
I also read the published reader letters on NYT's editorial. One doctor
was naive enough to promote ethical behavior among his colleagues and
keep an "objective" point of view. (It's difficult to be objective when
you're either being bribed or you're short on time with numerous
patients.) Despite the overwhelming evidence against Lilly's marketing
tactics to push Zyprexa, I didn't mind reading a difference of opinion:
"Zyprexa is a miracle drug for some of us. That should
not be forgotten in light of all that is coming out about Eli Lilly’s
marketing practices. It opened up the world, allowed me to read and
feel a crackling enthusiasm for life for the first time in years, and
it cut down drastically on the voices and strange thoughts.
Zyprexa was also the worst drug I have ever taken, making me gain 65
pounds, adding 100 points to my cholesterol and raising my
triglycerides sky-high. I was both ecstatic to be involved in the world
and miserable, obese and unhealthy.
The problem is to solve the difficulties with Zyprexa, not simply
take it off the market. It is too helpful a drug, especially for those
who can tolerate it. I could not.
I now take three different antipsychotics that are effective but not as miraculous.
I miss Zyprexa.
Pamela Spiro Wagner
Wethersfield, Conn., Dec. 18, 2006"
Reading that opened my eyes a bit. In the midst of all the side effects, there are people who DO
benefit from this drug. Ms. Wagner has a point: the drug needs to be
taken back to the lab and worked on to improve its efficacy and lessen
the damaging side effects. Congressional hearings won't accomplish this
and I highly doubt the FDA would even order/advise this to happen.
Most people find capitalism to be the best way to run the economy. It's
really a mixed blessing. Capitalism is the best economic system by far,
but at the same time, the reason government exists is to protect the
majority's interests. This is not being done. The FDA has a
long-standing history of approving medications for long-term use when
clinical trials are mostly done on a short-term basis.
I can go on and on, but at this point, I'm tired, my brain's petered
out and I'm not making any more sense. I'll leave you with the
"Congressional hearings into Eli Lilly’s playing down
Zyprexa’s side effects, which you call for, will dabble only with the
surface of the problem. The rules make the game, and with “nearly every
major drug company … under civil or criminal investigation for
alleged efforts” to promote drugs for unapproved uses, it’s time to consider that there’s something fundamentally wrong with our privatized pharmaceutical industry. … We need to get the money-changers out of medicine, and make drugs for people, not for profit." – David Berman
Is the above merely wishful thinking?