Thursday, 10 April 2014

Danish Health and Medicines Authority controlled by the pharmaceutical industry

Around half of the Danish Health and Medicines Authority's (Sundhetstyrelsen) funding comes directly, through fees, from global pharmaceutical giants. According to the Danish Medical Association (DMA, where most Danish doctors are members) this is a big problem and they demand new rules that will make the Health and Medicines Authority completely independent of the income from the pharmaceutical industry (http://goo.gl/qB7a3Q). Head of DMA, Mads Koch Hansen, condemns the relationship and says to Danish TV2 (http://goo.gl/a99IKZ): "A very large part of the country's Health and Medicine Authority's financing comes directly from the very industry that the authority is set to control, and who's products it's responsible for approving or discarding. But it is principally wrong that there is money going between the Health and Medicine Authority and the pharmaceutical industry. The Health and Medicine Authority should be economically independent, and the citizens should be able to have blind faith in the authorities' impartiality". From what I understand (anyone who reads Danish better than me, feel free to correct me if I got something wrong), DMA now suggests that the Health and Medicine Authority should be fully financed by the government and the fees that the pharmaceutical industry pays should be paid to a pool controlled by the government. Mads Koch Hansen says "this will ensure the necessary independence, and at the same time the companies (editor: pharmaceutical companies) pay for the work that is necessary to approve their products for use by the patients" (http://goo.gl/qB7a3Q).

LIF, a Danish organization for the pharmaceutical industry, says they do not understand DMA's concerns and that they think the system works fine like it is today. Ida Sofie Jensen, CEO at LIF, says that she has a hard time understanding the purpose of DMA's suggestion and that "this is the same as saying that something covert is going on, that a public authority cannot provide a service, without bribery or something ugly going on. We have definitely not seen indications of such cases". Well, I wouldn't say there has been no indication of big pharma being involved in allegations of corruption. Just an example for you: http://goo.gl/214tEj. A quick google search will give you a lot more. The Danish minister of Health and Protection, Nick Hækkerup, says he agrees with DMA that there should be no doubt that the Health and Medicines Authority should be independent and he is willing to continue the dialogue with DMA. However he sees no reason to question the authority's professional assessments is affected by the way it is financed today. 

Danish commentator and blogger Klaus K (http://www.180grader.dk/profil/Klaus_K) calls this whole relationship a corruption scandal (http://goo.gl/URfAZg), and mentions a lot of documentation showing how the pharmaceutical industry works to influence organizations like the Danish Health and Medicines Authority, by paying the right persons and making sure that whenever a doctor consults medical literature the same solution to every problem always appears: More medicine and more inefficient and expensive treatments. He points to the fact that after the Danish authorities seriously started interfering with peoples lifestyle, around 2007 when their current smoking laws was introduced, Danish people have gotten more and more sick (http://dengulenegl.dk/blog/?p=4412). In other words, the healthier the Danish peoples lifestyle is - the more sick they get. This means we seriously have to question the advice given by the Health and Medicine Authority, cause apparently, whatever their motives are, they are not doing a very good job at improving public health. 

And what does all this have to do with electronic cigarettes? Well, the Danish
Health and Medicines Authority is (of course) working against vaping and electronic cigarettes as well. They keep spreading fear around in the media, with reports of nicotine poisoning (http://goo.gl/bPjA10) and reports of carcinogens in the vapour (http://goo.gl/1AsU3A), backed up by the same junk science (commented by Dr. Farsalinos here: http://goo.gl/rJqAU3) that the pharmaceutical industry is sneaking into the medical literature that doctors are consulting. Hopefully the demand from DMA to get new rules on the financing of the Health and Medicine Authority will bring their poor results (and lies) into the spotlight in Denmark and force the politicians to do something. The Danish media, from what I have seen, has been fed a lot of scaremongering from the Health and Medicines Authority and reported it uncritically, but I hope this will make them investigate more and report more responsibly.

I'm sorry for all the Danish links in this article, hopefully google translate will work reasonably well. I'd also like to note that the statements cited is translated from Danish by a Norwegian (yours truly), so they might not be 100% but their essence should be correct.

9 comments :

  1. Good article and your translation is correct. This is very worrying information because it looks as if the global pharmaceutical companies are using national health authorities as mere ad agencies. No wonder smokers are pushed onto Nicorette with still more laws and regulations all the time. No wonder Ecigs never got a chance. This seems to be the pharma way of doing business.
    The pharma/health authority relationship is likely to be the same in other countries and should be investigated.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Where the possibility for corruption exists, corruption is also overwhelmingly likely to exist.
    And of course, if by some miracle theres no corruption going on, a financing model that can put any department's integrity in question is a bad idea. Without trust, these agencies are worthless.
    With trust theyre unworty of, they are worse than that, they're harmfull.

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  3. "This means we seriously have to question the advice given by the Health and Medicine Authority, cause apparently, whatever their motives are, they are not doing a very good job at improving public health."

    But they are doing a very good job seen from the pharma sponsors' perspective. That's the whole trouble in the issue: The Heath authorities' biggest customer is a global mega-partner that profits when people get sick. Well - then we should not wonder so much why people get sick, should we?

    Significantly more disease in Denmark after smoking ban and health paternalism

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