This is big national news, so locally, we ignored it.
Prescription drug giant GlaxoSmithKline will plead guilty and pay $3 billion to resolve federal criminal and civil inquiries arising from the company’s illegal promotion of some of its products, its failure to report safety data and alleged false price reporting, the Justice Department announced Monday.
“GSK’s sales force bribed physicians to prescribe GSK products using every imaginable form of high priced entertainment, from Hawaiian vacations to paying doctors millions of dollars to go on speaking tours to a European pheasant hunt to tickets to Madonna concerts, and this is just to name a few,” said Carmin M. Ortiz, U.S. attorney in Massachusetts.
“Today’s multibillion-dollar settlement is unprecedented in both size and scope,” Deputy Attorney General James Cole said. “At every level, we are determined to stop practices that jeopardize patients’ health, harm taxpayers, and violate the public trust – and this historic action is a clear warning to any company that chooses to break the law.” — USAToday
Pocket change. Lint. That $3 Billion is NOTHING compared to the revenue the company realized in the years it engineered this scam. And by the way — not only are they STILL pulling stunts just like these, so is everybody else in that industry.
Why? Because (i) they can, and (2) it’s profitable. They’re in neither the health care nor the do-gooder business. Their mission is to make money for themselves and their shareholders, and these suits know their mission. They calculate the revenue they’ll earn, balance that against the bribes they’ll pay to the physicians and the fees to the attorneys, and plow on ahead while Wall Street applauds — and invests.
But make no mistake — they’re human. When one of their executives gets sentenced to jail, they make sure he’s got plenty of Astro-Glide to make his time a little easier.
It’s important to remember cases like this, especially in an election year when people thrash around in front of cameras promising to “run government like a business,” and get all wild-eyed and foamy as they curse “government job-killing regulations” that inhibit honest businessmen from earning a living, creating jobs, and making America great again.
While I’m not a scholar of business history, and can’t tell you where all this stupid shit started, I can point to a pivotal figure in its popularization among ‘Pubs, free-market Fascists, and drooling pitchfork-and-bonfire anti-government zealots. The god of their movement is the economist Milton Friedman, the father of such idiocy as “supply-side economics” that President Alzheimer embraced. His basic tenet: business is a rational enterprise that really doesn’t need government regulation, because business would never do anything to hurt itself and its own profits.
No, I’m not fabricating this, although I can see why you might think so. Look:
“By now, considerable evidence has accumulated that indicates that FDA regulation is counterproductive, that it has done more harm by retarding progress in the production and distribution of valuable drugs than it has done good by preventing the distribution of harmful or ineffective drugs.” (Friedman and Friedman 1990, 205–6)
“The way the FDA now behaves, and the adverse consequences, are not an accident, not a result of some easily corrected human mistake, but a consequence of its constitution in precisely the same way that a meow is related to the constitution of a cat.” (Friedman and Friedman 1990, 209)
‘The FDA has already done enormous harm to the health of the American public by greatly increasing the costs of pharmaceutical research, thereby reducing the supply of new and effective drugs, and by delaying the approval of such drugs as survive the tortuous FDA process.’ When asked, if you could do anything to improve health in America, what would you do? Friedman replied: ‘No more licensing of doctors. No more regulation of drugs. Not of any kind. Period.’” (Pearson and Shaw 1993, 39, quoting their correspondence with Milton Friedman) — FDAReview.org
Sound like good ideas? Friedman had ‘em, by the boatload, and made a comfortable living pontificating to adoring ‘Pubs, fawning college students, and greedhead free marketeers, who worked them into national policy, leaving faulty drugs, dead patients, and corrupt executives in his wake. And that’s just the pharmaceutical industry. Wanna talk about the financial world?
Keep your execrable “run government like a business” language away from me. It gives me hives, and I can’t afford the medication.