Oh, John. I don't even know how to begin this conversation.
So you went on your show yesterday to attack people who either stop vaccinating their children or never vaccinated in the first place. It was a 27-minute angry, condescending, sometimes-loony but never-funny rant.
Someday, John, you're going to realize that it is not acceptable to attack the parents of children killed or disabled by vaccines, and that is exactly what you did yesterday.
Two years ago you came to my attention because of an in-depth and eye-popping piece you (or your writers, rather) did on the unethical marketing behaviors of pharmaceutical companies. I'm going to do a quick run-down of the 14 points that stuck out to me when I saw it.
- While pharmaceutical companies spend a shocking $4 billion marketing to consumers each year, they spend six times that amount marketing to doctors.
- 9 out of the top 10 pharmaceutical companies spend more on marketing than they do on research.
- How pharmaceutical companies spend money is highly secretive, and we only find out what goes on behind the scenes from lawsuits. But we see in a video obtained through discovery that while the pharmaceutical foot soldier reps claim to be there to "educate doctors," behind closed doors their own bosses refer to them as people who are "making an ungodly sum of money."
- You say that "the problem" with the current setup is that those pharma reps don't understand the effects of the drugs they're pushing. You shared one video where a rep said that none of his coworkers have a background in science, and video of a political science major who was giving a doctor medical advice for a complex patient.
- You point out that doctors' offices brag in their job advertisements that they get "free lunch every day" from pharma reps.
- There was a lawsuit against Novartis that alleged their reps were taking doctors to Hooters in exchange for prescribing its drugs. The reps were also taking doctors out to dinner at restaurants where the reviews say "the tab will bring a tear to your eyes unless dinner is on someone else's dime."
- Many doctors named in that lawsuit took money for speeches they never gave.
- Many doctors who are the top prescribers of a drug are also getting money from that drug company, which you say is worrying, "because we trust doctors."
- Pharmacies are selling patient prescription information back to pharma companies so the reps get to see if the doctor is prescribing as promised, and put more pressure on the doctors for not complying.
- You seemed outraged that pharma reps attempt to interfere with doctors making medical decisions based on their best judgment.
- You said that drug companies have crossed the line with off-label uses for drugs with dangerous side effects; "You can't just give people potentially dangerous drugs and see what happens."
- For the doctors who refuse to see drug reps, pharma reps will tell them they have been identified as a "thought leader" and proceed to pay that doctor to talk to other doctors about the company's products over dinner. Unbeknownst to the guests, the slides, the content and the script the thought leader doctor uses are prepared by the drug company.
- You hammered home that when you're a doctor regurgitating a script, you aren't a "thought leader." You're a "thought sayer."
- Lest your viewers think the problem is just with one company and one drug, you point out that Johnson & Johnson has also paid $2.2 billion fines, Eli Lilly paid $1.4 billion, Pfizer paid $2.3 billion, and GlaxoSmithKline paid out a record $3 billion.
Why was that missing from your show? Didn't your researchers come across it? Or did your talking points come from the Hollywood Health & Society arm of the CDC?
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