Californians Beware! How Safe are Prescription Drugs in California or Anywhere in the Nation?

Yesterday, reported that the drug maker AstraZeneca pushed salespeople to tell U.S. doctors its antipsychotic drug Seroquel didn’t cause diabetes more than two years after warning physicians in Japan of possible links to the disease. This report brings into the foreground the dangerous practice by drug makers of making false and misleading statements to sell drugs. This phenomenon was recently noted in article in, where the makers of Seroquel were cited for downplaying the side effects associated with the drug and for the practice of prescribing the medication for conditions it was not designed to treat, also known as off-label marketing. The article states that “Seroquel is an anti-psychotic drug that was approved by the FDA for the treatment of Schizophrenia and manic episodes associated with Bipolar I disorder …and is being prescribed for everything from anxiety, to children with attention deficit disorder. ” Sadly, as noted in the article, “it is this off-label marketing that creates a boost in sales for drug makers.” The article also adds, because “drug companies are prohibited from directly advertising a product for use beyond that which it has been approved by the FDA”…they take advantage of a loophole that exists in the system, the” loophole that gives doctors and qualified health care professionals the capacity to make subjective decisions based on perceived or assumed benefit.” Consequently, drug makers focus their marketing on the medical community. Medication that is prescribed off-label to healthy people represents the largest market for drug makers.
Cases such as these, where drug companies put profits before people, are becoming more and more common. reported in September of last year that Cephalon agreed to pay $444 million in damages and penalties to settle allegations of improper off-label drug marketing. A public interest group called The New Jersey Public Interest Research Group has been researching these practices and put out a report titled “Turning Medicine into Snake Oil” in 2006. The report highlights the issue of off-label marketing and the FDA’s inability to police drug marketers. They state: “When drug marketers promote off-label by broadening the drug’s indication-meaning they urge doctors to ignore the safety-based limitations the FDA imposed on a drug’s use- they are promoting the drug for uses it is effective for, but which the FDA decided are not justified, given the drug’s risks. Patients given these prescriptions are by definition exposed to unnecessary, excessive risks.” In turn, patients who are exposed to excessive risks can or will be injured, even killed. Patients place trust in their doctors, and are violated when unnecessarily prescribed drugs with dangerous side effects. Here at the Brod Law Firm we are prepared to help anyone who has been injured or has lost a loved one due to a dangerous prescription drug.

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