Golden Opportunity for Chiropractic : Fraud and Scandal Surrounding Central Nerve System Depressants
Tuesday’s bombshell that a key researcher involved in the Neurontin and Lyrica research faked the study results and invented patients takes the fraud and deception surrounding these drugs to a whole new level. This comes as new reports continue to surface about alleged fake medical articles Pfizer planted to sell the earlier half of this dynamic duo of central nerve system depressants, Neurontin, for unapproved uses from 1995 to 2002.
But it doesn’t seem to be slowing down the marketing machine promoting these new chemicals, which work by shutting down nerve system function. Remember, the pharmaceutical answer to nerve interference is to chemically shut down the messenger network.
Pfizer gave nonprofits $2.1 million in grants in 2008 for medical courses about the pain-and-fatigue ailment fibromyalgia for which its Neurontin follow-up pill, Lyrica, just happens to be approved.
Lyrica (pregablin), affectionately called Son of Neurontin at Pfizer, was discovered by Northwestern University chemist Richard Silverman in 1989, earning the university a cool $700 million when it sold royalties in late 2007.
Pfizer is funding the $100 million Richard and Barbara Silverman Hall for Molecular Therapeutics & Diagnostics, under construction now, which will employ 245 faculty, staff and research assistants.
Like Neurontin (gabapentin), Lyrica (Pregablin) is an anti-epilepsy drug (AED) that modulates calcium channels to dampen the excitability of nerve endings. And, like Neurontin which made $3 billion a year from unapproved uses like pain, bipolar disorder, attention deficit disorder and restless legs syndrome, Pfizer has high hopes for Lyrica’s “crossover appeal.”
Lyrica was approved in 2006 for partial onset seizures and nerve pain associated with diabetes and shingles. But the FDA’s approval of Lyrica as the first drug for fibromyalgia in 2007 is what kicked sales up 37 percent in the third quarter to $465 million.
Fibromyalgia, with no clear cause, blood test, definition or cure “is almost a textbook definition of an unmet medical need,” enthused Pfizer VP Ian Read in a conference call to analysts when the drug first launched.
Datamonitor predicts the fibromyalgia market can be “grown” from $400 million to $2 billion thanks to all the people who do not know they have it yet.
And even before the name Lyrica appeared, Pfizer’s initial “unbranded” campaign of public service announcements (PSAs) in conjunction with the National Fibromyalgia Association that featured people describing their symptoms and hawking the web site www.fibrohope.org laid the groundwork for massive sales of Lyrica, once FDA approved.
(Think Merck’s “unbranded” HPV awareness campaign that preceded the vaccine Gardasil’s FDA approval)
Despite a temporary Lyrica scare in 2001 when Pfizer had to freeze patient trials because mice developed cancerous tumors–luckily for Pfizer, rats did not-Lyrica was well received by the “medical community”.
Except the “medical community” was made up of Pfizer paid mouthpieces.
“Well tolerated,” said Pfizer paid doctors in Arthritis and Rheumatism in 2005.
“Proven efficacy” and “No new adverse events,” said Pfizer paid doctors in Drugs of Today in 2005 and 2007.
And, “Durability of effect for relieving FM pain,” said Pfizer paid doctors in the journal Pain in 2008.
Actual Lyrica users were less overenthusiastic, reporting memory loss, mental confusion, extreme weight gain, hair loss, impaired driving, disorientation, twitching and even two deaths reported on the website askapatient.com. The FDA added suicide warnings to Lyrica and all AEDs in 2008.
Pfizer and other drug manufactures will be ratcheting up the “patient education” and awareness campaigns for fibromyalgia. But in doing so, they have been forced to admit that a primary causal factor in these symptoms is nerve interference. Otherwise, there would be no justification for prescribing nerve system depressants as a treatment for said symptoms.
As chiropractors, it is our duty to inform the public that there is an alternative to treating nerve interference with a drug that causes all of the above side effects including an increased likelihood of suicide.
As a chiropractor, you know that chemically suppressing nerve system function cannot possibly be wise. The drug does not selectively shut down only nerves transmitting pain signals. It depresses all nerve function to all tissue cells: brain, heart, lungs, kidneys, etc. These chemicals have the exact opposite objective as the chiropractic adjustment. Just imagine what the long term effects of these drugs will be. They effectively create a chemical subluxation of the entire nerve system.
The fact that the drug was possibly approved based on faked research and promoted via fake articles in medical journals presents a unique opportunity for the chiropractic community. We must take full advantage of the awareness campaigns for the “unmet medical need” Pfizer VP Ian Read is so excited about. But instead of a suicide inducing chemical, we offer life enhancing subluxation correction with the only side effect: clinically proven increased quality of life.
Of course, this can only be accomplished with a unified effort, chiropractors working together and pooling their resources to get the message out there. This is exactly the type of opportunity Chiropractic America’s YourSpine.com initiative was designed to capitalize on. Do your part by becoming a member today!