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Influence of Big Pharma in Ireland: Uncovered

cartoon of a doctor with his hands hand cuffed with a dollar sign

Influence of Big Pharma in Ireland: Uncovered

Anyone see that article in the Sunday Business Post on the influence of corporate sponsorship in Irish surgeries and hospitals nationwide? It was a cracker, everything you hoped wasn’t true but feared it was.

The lead caption said it all:

Big drug firms pay almost one-third of senior HSE doctors

The article goes on to state that drug companies are funding dozens of medical and nursing posts in some of the biggest hospitals in the country with almost one third of the HSE’s most senior doctors receiving money from pharmaceutical firms for “education”, “travel expenses” and money to sit on boards. Many of these senior doctors, called Clinical Leads, decide which drugs will be used by the profession as a whole to treat different conditions. Hundreds of thousands are paid to medical colleges for continuing medical education.

In 2015 the Mater Hospital received €1.67mil, Vincent’s Hospital €0.48mil, UCD €0.46mil from the drug companies and yet

…hospitals are unable to account for millions of euro that pharmaceutical companies say they paid them

Of course there’s no such thing as a free dinner. The SBP quotes Professor Michael Barry who heads up the National Centre for Pharmacoeconomics (NCPE) as saying;

Payments from the industry are influencing prescribing habits in Ireland….doctors were prescribing more costly branded drugs

The IPHA (Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association) say they believed in sharing their own expertise and capabilities with those of health care professionals. Hmmm.

Of Course Big Pharma Play a Vital Role But

While Big Pharma of course has a key role to play in health, with numerous successes in various fields, successes that wouldn’t of been possible without revenue from drug sales, it’s fair to say that in recent years the biggest pharma giants have been fined billions for fraud, misrepresentation of data and various other corruption practices, resulting in an unknown amount of sickness and death.

Many of us might be surprised by this, certainly those who haven’t read “Bad Pharma: How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patients” by the British physician and academic Ben Goldacre (highly recommend picking this up guys, it’s jaw-dropping. However once your eyes are opened, once you’ve looked behind the curtain of what is the biggest show on earth, it’s hard to not to worry.

When human health systems interact with big industry, it produces outcomes not in-keeping with the patient’s best interests. This includes influencing a doctor’s behaviour and the creation of industry-sponsored research producing favourable result (Moynihan 2003), all resulting in increased drug usage.

The medical profession is being bought by the pharmaceutical industry, not only in terms of the practice of medicine, but also in terms of teaching and research. The academic institutions of this country are allowing themselves to be the paid agents of the pharmaceutical industry. I think it’s disgraceful.

Arnold Relman (1923-2014)

Harvard Professor of Medicine, former Editor-in-Chief of The New England Medical Journal

If this is what goes on in the human sector, do you think its better in pets? Or worse?

With Vets now believing…

  • The dog in an omnivore
  • That they fare better on a dry, cereal based diet than fresh ingredients without seeing a single study comparing a group of dry fed dogs to a group of fresh fed dogs
  • That dogs without fleas or worms should be treated chemically for them
  • That animals already vaccinated for viruses need to be boosted annually without seeing a single study to support such a notion, contrary to what we know in human medicine and against the advice of the world’s top veterinary immunologists
  • That all dogs should get a leptospirosis jab, regardless of risk
  • That dogs can be “vaccinated” for kennel cough, the equivalent of a common cold in dogs, against the advice of WSAVA

…most of us on Dogs First are now aware that the veterinary industry is now completely tied up in corporate sponsorship. You can see it from my post on Friday last week that has already been shared 160 times and read by nearly 20,000 people, entitled “Vets Please Stop With the Kennel Cough Jab“. I have shown that from our veterinary universities From our veterinary universities to massive governing bodies such as WSAVA (World Small Animal Veterinary Medicine) happily displaying a Hill’s Pet Food badge on it’s home page, that the pet sector is at least as bad as the human sector. In fact, with the pet food guard dogs fast asleep (and de-balled and on the company payroll) things are most certainly worse.

So How’d you Know if you are Speaking to an Independent Source?!

The Sunday Business posts notes that there are still good, relatively independent doctors. Prof. Barry states how he would find it difficult to be a Clinical Lead and be supported by the industry. So there’s some good ones out there, that’s for sure, thankfully. But is there enough to stem the flood? And how do you know you are actually speaking to an independent one?

The answer is you can’t. Unlike your local vets who will have walls and staplers and jumpers and door mats plastered with their favourite dry food, doctors no longer wear these sort of badges.

My advice, after years researching the industry, pet and human, is to be skeptical about all products, especially drugs. Listen to someone’s advice then to a little digging of your own because the truth is you are all that stands between your kids (human or pet) and some truly nasty products.

Nobody cares for them like you. Nobody.

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