In a 2007 survey from Consumer Reports, an estimated four out of five Americans said they believed drug manufacturers have too much influence over the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and 84 percent believe that ads for prescription drugs with known safety threats should be banned. In the survey, 96 percent of those surveyed thought the United States government should require all drugs with known safety concerns to print thorough warning labels, which does not always happen.
A more recent 2010 study from the organization showed that consumers are also concerned about the influence of drug companies over their doctors. According to the report, “A whopping 81 percent said they are concerned about the rewards drugmakers give to doctors who write a lot of prescriptions for a company’s drugs. And 72 percent were displeased with payments pharmaceutical companies give to doctors for testimonials or for serving as a company spokesperson for a given drug.”
Drug Company Influence over Public Protectors
Indeed, Americans have cause for worry. The FDA receives a payment for every approval a drug company requests. With much of its funding coming from the pharmaceutical industry, it is easy to see why drug companies get away with marketing unsafe drugs.
The FDA has no power to force safety labeling. The agency must instead negotiate with drug companies to find warnings the companies find acceptable. The agency relies on drug-company funded studies to make its decisions and only performs independent studies once patients become ill or die because of an approved drug.
The public relies on the FDA to regulate drugs, doctors to prescribe only the medications we truly need and on attorneys to prosecute drug companies that abuse those protections. Now drug company influence appears to be affecting all three of these public protectors.
The New York Times reports that long time champion against drug company influence, Michael K. Loucks, now practices as a corporate advocate for drug companies. He will be defending some of the same companies he helped convict for abusing the system.
The Public Loses a Protector
Loucks was a superior litigator, and many stood behind his dogged prosecution of drug companies. It appears that even a staunch advocate like Loucks has his price. His turnaround represents yet another example of the disturbingly strong influence drug companies hold over Americans.
While some of Loucks’ colleagues are sad to see him go to “the dark side,” he insists that drug manufacturers do their best to create and market medications and devices that comply with all related laws. He does not seem troubled about the inadequacy of those laws in promoting patient safety.
Loucks is barred from defending cases he investigated in the past. He can, however, represent drug companies he had prosecuted on other accounts; his clients include Medtronic, Schering-Plough and Merck. The financial influence of these corporate giants seems to have no limit.
If you or someone you love was injured by an unsafe device or defective drug, contact us for a free review of your case. The time to file a claim is limited, so act quickly. We will make sure you receive the compensation to which you may be entitled.