7 Shameful Examples of Big Pharma Fraud

Pharmaceutical companies have a history of shameful behavior.

Over the last few months many drugs companies have hit the headlines for allegedly committing fraud, the most recent being Merck. This document reveals 7 companies who have been reported for committing fraud since January 2012.

Pharma Fraud Number 1: Merck

Recently Merck has been in the firing line for allegedly fraudulently representing the mumps component of its MMR vaccine. It has been alleged that Merck have been fraudulently informing the public that the MMR II, used to replace the MMR vaccine Pluserix, is an effective vaccine when this is not true because the studies proving the vaccines effectiveness are said to be falsified.

According to many reports the Mumps component of the vaccination is ineffective and that the results of the tests carried out on the vaccine have been altered. The Child Health Safety website (1) reporting the story states that whistleblowers working for Merck have said that they witnessed fraud firsthand when they worked for the pharmaceutical company, between 1999 and 2002, and that they were pressured to participate.

Child Health Safety have reported that virologists Stephen A. Krahling and Joan A. Wlochowski described a supervisor working for Merck manually changing test results that showed the vaccine wasn’t working and then hurriedly destroying the evidence to keep the fraud from being exposed.

According to the report the whistleblowers stated that the supervisor then lied to FDA regulators who came to the laboratories to check after they were alerted to the problem. Child Health Safety wrote:

“A top Merck vaccine official told Krahling the matter was a “business decision,” the suit says, and he was twice told the company would make sure he went to jail if he told federal regulators the truth.”

(Possible) Pharma Fraud Number 2: Medical Imports Ltd

If this was not bad enough Merck’s behavior is said to have left millions of children unprotected against mumps. Perhaps this is why there was a sudden rush to approve the single mumps vaccine MediMumps for use in private clincs. (2)

You may remember that a few weeks ago I reported that the MediMumps vaccine was a single mumps vaccine being advertised by the Children’s Immunization Clinic as a vaccine available from early June. Instead of being cultured on chick embryo’s the MediMumps vaccine had been cultured on dog kidney cells which was said to cause possible allergies to dogs in young children.

Since my article I have learned that this vaccine did not have a UK license when it was advertised. This was proven in an email I received from a member of the public after she had raised the question with the MHRA. The email from the MHRA customer services states:

“I understand that Medi-mumps is a registered trade mark belonging to Medical Imports Ltd.

I can confirm that Medi-mumps is not the subject of a valid UK Marketing Authorisation, nor is it the subject of a Marketing Authorisation granted by the European Medicines Agency. (own emphasis)”

It has also been established through telephone conversations that the advert advertising the vaccine has been removed from The Children’s Immunization Clinics website. My informant did ask if it was possible if MediMumps was in fact Pavivac but her question were met with a stony silence.

Did Medical Imports Ltd see trouble ahead for Merck and decide to go ahead and allow an unlicensed product to be advertised to meet the demands of thousands of potential parents looking for a single mumps vaccine alternative to protect their children? Lets face it big pharma never miss an opportunity to cash in where they see a possible gap in the market do they?

If so, this is what could be classified as another possible act of fraud. It certainly is a breach of advertising standards if nothing else.

Incidentally, the MediMumps vaccine also contains the Jeryl Lynn strain of mumps and is probably as useless as the mumps component in the MMR II for protecting a child against mumps!

The last few months have not only seen cases of attempted fraud by Merck and Medical Imports Ltd, many other companies have also come under attack.

Pharma Fraud 3: GlaxoSmithKIine

A few days ago GlaxoSmithKline came under fire. BBC News (3) reported that GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is to pay $3bn (£1.9bn) in the largest healthcare fraud settlement in UShistory.

The BBC said:

“The drug giant is to plead guilty to promoting two drugs for unapproved uses and failing to report safety data about a diabetes drug to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The settlement will cover criminal fines as well as civil settlements with the federal and state governments.

The case concerns the drugs Paxil, Wellbutrin and Avandia.”

In my opinion it is about time this drugs company was brought to justice. They have been in the headlines over the drug Paxil also known as Seroxat many times. The truth about this evil drug can be found on the blog Seroxat Sufferers Stand Up and Be Counted. (4) Bob Fiddaman displays many papers identifying the tainted and rather colorful history of GSK and the drug Paxil.

It may be worth mentioning at this point that GSK also manufacturers the HPV vaccination Cervarix which has also has had problems. In a promotional video (5) that I made with SaneVax a few years ago we exposed a few Cervarix flaws that GSK had apparently forgotten to mention in their 2008 advertising campaign for doctors.

Pharma Fraud 4: Roche

In June the pharmaceutical company Roche came under fire. Fierce Pharma (6) reported that the European Medicines Agency is working with national medicines agencies to investigate deficiencies in the medicine-safety reporting system of Roche. According to the report this includes looking at whether the deficiencies have an impact on the overall benefit-risk profile for any of the products involved. Fierce Pharma state:

“The deficiencies are identified in a May 2012 report from the UK medicines regulatory agency (MHRA) following an inspection at Roche. This was part of a coordinated European program of routine inspection of safety reporting systems.

At the time of the inspection the company identified some 80,000 reports for medicines marketed by Roche in the USA that had been collected through a Roche-sponsored patient support program, but which had not been evaluated to determine whether or not they should be reported as suspected adverse reactions to the EU authorities. These included 15,161 reports of death of patients and it is not known whether the deaths were due to natural progression of the disease or had a causal link to the medicine. More recent information from the company indicates a smaller number of reports, but this information needs to be verified by the authorities!”

After 15,161 deaths you would think someone would bother to investigate the drugs involved wouldn’t you? Whether it is negligence or fraud this should have been checked and verified surely?

Pharma Fraud 5: Pfizer

Again in June we see another company come under fire. Pfizer, hit the headlines for you guessed it for deceiving the public. According to Recall Lawyers (7) an email circulated by a Pfizer research director indicated that a study conducted to determine whether Celebrex an arthritis drug was safer on the stomach than other drugs–such as ibuprofen–was falsely represented. The website states:

“According to news reports, Celebrex is no better at protecting the stomach from serious complications than other drugs. Pfizer and its partner, Pharmacia, were able to misrepresent Celebrex as a safer alternative because they only released the results of half of a yearlong study. The email states, “[t]hey swallowed our story, hook, line and sinker.”

Not such a great email after all, as the perpetrator has now been exposed!

Recall Lawyers wrote:

“The email, sent in 2000, is among one of thousands of internal documents recently unsealed. And while the company’s handling of Celebrex has been known for years, since 2001 when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released the entire study, the unsealed documents point to a widespread effort on the part of Pfizer to promote the drug in ways not necessarily backed up by medical science, and to overcome the doubts of critics. The study which formed the subject of the researcher’s email was critical to Pfizer’s Celebrex campaign–Pfizer’s main selling point of the drug was its mild effect on the stomach.”

I feel that the words to promote the drug in ways not necessarily backed up by medical science, speak volumes and that this is practice is more widely spread than any of us could ever imagine.

Pharma Fraud 6: Abbott Laboratories

In May of this year Abbott Laboratories pleaded guilty and agreed to pay $1.5 billion for unlawfully promoting the prescription drug Depakote for uses not approved safe and effective by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

According to a press release from The United States Department of Justice, (8) Abbott pleaded guilty on the 7th May 2012 to misbranding Depakote by promoting the drug to control agitation and aggression in elderly dementia patients and to treat schizophrenia when neither of these uses was approved by the FDA.

The press release states: 

“Abbott admits that from 1998 through 2006, the company maintained a specialized sales force trained to market Depakote in nursing homes for the control of agitation and aggression in elderly dementia patients, despite the absence of credible scientific evidence that Depakote was safe and effective for that use.   In addition, from 2001 through 2006, the company marketed Depakote in combination with atypical antipsychotic drugs to treat schizophrenia, even after its clinical trials failed to demonstrate that adding Depakote was any more effective than an atypical antipsychotic alone for that use.”

I believe this to be a terrible act of fraud because it puts many vulnerable elderly patients at risk. The FDA originally approved the drug for epileptic seizures, bipolar mania and the prevention of migraines. The press release clearly states that this drug was never approved for controlling behavioral disturbances in dementia patients. This was because the drug was found to be dangerous in elderly patients causing some of them to suffer from dehydration and anorexia after using this drug. This as we all know is extremely dangerous especially in the elderly.

Pharma Fraud 7: Takeda Pharmaceuticals

Finally on my wall of shame is Takeda Pharmaceuticals. In March 2012 Ury & Moscow L.L.C. (9) stated that Takeda was in court for failing to report that their diabetes drug Actos has been found to lead to bladder cancer and congestive heart failure.

They wrote:

“Actos, which is manufactured by Takeda Pharmaceuticals, has been used by thousands of patients in the U.S. to help treat diabetes. However, after further studies revealed that the drug is linked to increasing one’s risk of developing bladder cancer, thousands of claims have since been filed against Takeda for failing to adequately warn consumers about the dangerous side effects of its diabetes drug.”

Later in the report it says:

“According to the lawsuit, Takeda encouraged its medical reviewers to incorrectly classify some of the reports of congestive heart failure. Although some reports of the medical condition should have been classified as serious adverse effects, Takeda asked those who initially classified some of the reports as being serious to change their opinions, the lawsuit claims. The former Takeda employee who filed the whistle-blower lawsuit claims that she attempted to protest this practice, but when she did, she was fired by the drugmaker.”

It is clear that Takeda along with all the other companies on my wall of shame will do anything for financial gain, even putting vulnerable ill and disabled patients at risk.

Looking back over the last year I found report after report proving that pharmaceutical companies are lying, under reporting and covering up crucial evidence in a bid to mislead the public into buying and using dangerous drugs and vaccines. I suggest on the face of this evidence alone next time your doctor offers you or your child a drug or vaccine that you do your own research and weigh up all of the evidence because it is clear the pharmaceutical industries are lying cheats out to make a profit at any cost.



 1.    Child Health Safety Merck Vaccine Fraud – 2nd US Court Case Over MMR Vaccine http://childhealthsafety.wordpress.com/2012/07/02/merck-vaccine-fraud-2nd-us-court-case-over-mmr-vaccine/

 2.    VacTruth New Vaccine Made From Dog Cells May Trigger Allergies To Dogs http://vactruth.com/2012/05/25/vaccine-dog-cells-allergy/

3.    BBC News GlaxoSmithKline to pay $3bn in USdrug fraud scandal http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-18673220

4.    Sexoxat Sufferers Stand Up And Be Counted http://fiddaman.blogspot.co.uk/

5.    YouTube Cervarix Vaccine GSK’s Promotional Flaws http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iD2i7YYAID4&feature=related

6.    Fierce Pharma European Medicines Agency acts on deficiencies in Roche medicines-safety reporting http://www.fiercepharma.com/press-releases/european-medicines-agency-acts-deficiencies-roche-medicines-safety-reportin

7.    Recall Laywers Securities Fraud Case against Pfizer shows Deception of Celebrex Safety http://www.the-recall-lawyers.com/2012/06/securities-fraud-case-against.html

8.    Press Release United States Department of Justice Abbott Labs to Pay $1.5 Billion to Resolve Criminal & Civil Investigations of Off-label Promotion of Depakote http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2012/May/12-civ-585.html

9.    Ury & Moscow L.L.C Attorneys and Councilors of Law EX-EMPLOYEE SAYS TAKEDA FAILED TO REPORT ADVERSE EFFECTS OF ACTOS http://www.connecticutdangerousdrugsandinjurieslawyers.com/2012/03/ex-employee-says-takeda-failed-to-report-adverse-effects-of-actos.shtml


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About the author

Christina England, BA Hons