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New York Times By GARDINER HARRIS AND NATASHA SINGER
At least a dozen major drug and device makers are under investigation by federal prosecutors and securities regulators in a broadening inquiry of bribery allegations as to whether the companies may have made payments to foreign doctors and health officials.
In previous investigations, federal officials have charged that many of these kinds of payments were made to encourage doctors to order their products. In the United States, doctors routinely market drugs and devices to their colleagues and other health professionals at medical conventions and small gatherings in restaurants. Such consulting arrangements are legal in the United States as long as companies avoid paying doctors directly to write prescriptions.
Dr. Shiv Chopra was a drug company insider and also worked for what is now Health Canada -- the Canadian equivalent of the FDA – for 35 years. In this interview he discusses the issue of food safety, and the toxic elements of our conventional food supply.
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Part of the "trouble" Chopra is referring to occurred in 2004, when he and two of his colleagues were fired by Health Canada on charges of insubordination.
" We're still in court for wrongful dismissal," Chopra says. "… Insubordination means that you refuse to work. We didn't refuse to work. But we refused to pass drugs which we thought should not be passed. The courts will have to decide whether we were insubordinate or not."
This is a fascinating commentary on the entire system of drug approvals, and a testament of how the system that is designed to protect public health, whether in the US or Canada, simply does not work anymore.
Again and again, we see this repeating pattern: when concerned scientists who really understand the issues voice their concerns, they're oftentimes fired.
They're dismissed because they interfere with the collusion between government and these large multinational corporations whose primary intent is to increase their profits – not to serve the public health.
The fact is, as Chopra describes, the ONLY safety stop we have are the scientists reviewing the data provided by these corporations. Once they pass it, everyone assumes the drug is safe, and more importantly, politicians and the corporations themselves are off the hook.
The health of tens of thousands of consumers depend on them to ask the right questions, and make the right judgment call.
The Canadian system is perhaps even worse than the US, as Canada only performs paper verification and doesn't do any testing of their own on these products, which the US has the capacity to do.
Either way, essentially what we have now is a politically run system where companies do NOT have to prove the safety and efficacy of their product in peer-reviewed scientific literature