But it's one thing when a bunch of professionals basically recommend brushing your teeth with dog food just because they're sponsored by Purina. It's a whole other thing when their shilling can kill you.
"When you think about it, what is 'death' really?"
Let's take what drug giant Wyeth did in 2002, after discovering that their hormone therapy drugs for menopause increased risk of breast cancer, heart disease, stroke, and blood clots. The problem was that the drugs Prempro and Premarin were already on the market, so instead of recalling them, the company spent $12 million forming the Council on Hormone Education, 85 percent of whose members were working for Wyeth. They then spent the next six years conducting an online course "educating" thousands of doctors about how totally awesome hormone therapy is, and how all that cancer/stroke business was probably due to something the patients did in their free time.
And in some cases they can take a, well, more direct approach ...
It turns out that big drug companies hand out bribes -- extensively, frequently, and usually in foreign countries. For instance, GlaxoSmithKline is currently under investigation for dishing out about $500 million in bribes to Chinese doctors, government officials, hospital administrators, and anyone else who happened to be standing around at bribe o'clock. The payouts were meant to secure the company a bigger market share in the country by, assumingly, getting the government to crack down on the GalaxySwitchPine knockoffs that have been flooding China.
Since then, the company made the heroic decision to investigate themselves and found that the entire bribe thing was orchestrated by four senior executives who acted alone, against company guidelines.
But in light of GSK's vehement "It was all a few loose cannons" defense, you have to wonder what kind of illicit stuff Pfizer was really into. Because when Pfizer was caught bribing medical professionals in Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Italy, Kazakhstan, Russia, China, and Serbia to get them to prescribe more of the company's drugs, they quickly admitted their guilt and agreed to pay $60 million in fines.
Oli Scarff/Getty Images News/Getty Images
We assume that means the bribery had netted them $60 billion.
But really, we're surprised they didn't go with "Literally everyone does this" as their defense. When the drug giant Eli Lilly bribed Chinese officials and doctors, they had to throw in some expensive jewelry and spa treatments to secure their business interests abroad.
So what did they get for their bribes? Well, it involves straight up paying doctors and hospitals to prescribe their drugs instead of their competitors'. As in, your doctor prescribes you a pill not because it's the best one for your condition, but because the drug company bought him a new motorcycle. Wait -- it's actually sadder than that. Pfizer China allegedly "created 'point programs' that could be redeemed for gifts like cellphones and tea sets based on how many prescriptions the physicians wrote."
And ... that will hopefully be the most depressing thing you read today.
Here's a non-diarrhea kitten video. You've earned it.