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Patients Suffer Due to Institutional Corruption in the Pharmaceutical Industry

Almost every day, there is a new story about a drug that had a dangerous or unexpected side effect and that is causing serious illness or injury to patients. Many may wonder how this keeps happening when the Food and Drug Administration is supposed to protect the public from dangerous drugs and when the pharmaceutical manufacturers have an obligation to make sure that their products are tested and safe before those drugs are sold. golden-pill-1245005-m

A recent article in the Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics sheds some potential light on how and why pharmaceutical companies keep releasing products that cause so much damage. The proposed answer is institutional corruption, which runs deep at multiple levels. Institutional corruption isn't any particular rule violation or broken law, but instead as states it refers to "a certain kind of influence, within an economy if influence has a certain effect." An experienced dangerous drug lawyer in Miami knows that there is plenty of reason to believe that institutional corruption exists on several levels within big pharma, and the recent journal article helps to illustrate the extent of the problem.

Institutional Corruption and Big Pharma

Activities are considered to be institutional corruption if they do one of two things: make an institution less effective, or weaken the public's trust in the institution.  The journal article identifies three levels of institutional corruption in the pharmaceutical industry:

  • Lobbying activities. The pharmaceutical industry has paid big money to help shape the outcomes of legislation and to exert influence over congressmen. As a result, Congress has enacted legislation that undermines the function and mission of the FDA.
  • Industry pressure: The enforcement capacity of the FDA has been systematically underfunded for decades. In 1992, a switch was made by Congress to funding the FDA's enforcement mechanisms through user fees. In practice, this ends up limiting the ability of the FDA to protect patients against serious adverse side effects caused by drugs with few health benefits.
  • Commercialization of the medical profession. This has, in effect, undermined the role that doctors should play as independent trusted advisers to the patients under their care.

The results of this corruption have led to a situation where as many as 2.7 million Americans experience a severe adverse drug reaction in hospitals every single year in the United States, with 128,000 patients dying from adverse reactions to drugs administered in hospitals.

Pharmaceutical companies today are also doing very little by way of useful research and development (they are spending about 1.3 percent of their revenues to find innovative drugs) and are instead releasing new drugs that may offer significantly greater risks and only minor advantages, if any, over existing drugs on the market.

Unfortunately, suggests that correcting these problems would require a fundamental shift in the way that the FDA and drug companies operate. The FDA would need to take a leadership role in tougher enforcement; independent research would need to be required rather than drug-company funded research; users fees would need to end; and drugs would need to show substantial benefits over existing medications in order to be approved. These changes may be very difficult to achieve politically, especially in light of the power of big pharma.

If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of a drug defect, contact the Law Office of Jeffrey D. DeCarlo, P.A. today at 877-572-0065 for a free case consultation.

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