Big government protects from Pharma, but not Alcohol

MedPage Today reports two interesting pieces of reporting simultaneously this week.

First, Public Citizen published a report showing from 1991 through 2017, a total of 412 legal settlements were reached between the federal and state governments and pharmaceutical manufacturers. The fines, settlements, and fees comprised a whopping total of $38.6 billion. For 2016 and 2017, 38 settlements for a total of $2.9 billion occurred. These totals are comparable to the number of settlements (39) and overall financial penalties ($2.9 billion) in the previous two-year period (2014-2015). Total settlements in each of these two-year intervals were significantly lower than the 117 settlements totaling $9.8 billion in 2012-2013. So the government is looking out for the consumer. Yay.

In a somewhat disturbing second account, it turns out an NIH-sponsored clinical trial that could end up recommending a daily alcoholic beverage as part of a healthy diet was funded by Anheuser Busch, Heineken, and other alcohol companies. The findings were reported in The New York Times. Emails and travel vouchers discovered through the Freedom of Information Act show the NIH “waged a vigorous campaign to court the alcohol industry, paying for scientists to travel to meetings with executives, where they gave talks strongly suggesting that the study’s results would endorse moderate drinking as healthy.” The meetings included a “working lunch” at the Beer Institute convention in Philadelphia, two meetings at the Washington headquarters of the Distilled Spirits Council, and a presentation to beverage company executives at a Florida luxury hotel. Despite all this, the lead investigator and N.I.H. officials have said repeatedly that they never discussed the planning of the study with the industry. How much are we talking? $100 million.

At some point, any reasonable person would ask if the goal of governmental regulation and influence is to serve the people, or themselves.

See the review on MedPage Today. Opinions above are my own.

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