When Drug Industry Flacks Attack

Following Dr. Steven Nissen's publication of a study warning that "GlaxoSmithKline's diabetes drug Avandia increased the risk of heart attacks by 43% and death from cardiovascular events by possibly 64%," he was publicly pilloried. "More than one story from ostensibly different sources" derisively referred to him as "St Steven," the "Patron Saint of Drug Safety," and "Saint Steven the Pure," reports Evelyn Pringle. Among the attackers was FDA spokesman Douglas Arbesfeld. Arbesfeld previously worked at the PR firm Manning Selvage & Lee (MS&L), helping Glaxo and other "healthcare clients maximize internet-relations." Former FDA Deputy Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb, who ridiculed Nissen in a Wall Street Journal editorial, also consulted for pharmaceutical companies at MS&L. Two more FDA alums, Peter Pitts and Robert Goldberg, mocked Nissen in a Washington Times piece. Pitts is the senior vice-president for global health affairs at MS&L. Goldberg doesn't have ties to the PR firm, but serves with Pitts as an officer of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, which Pringle describes as a "nest of ex-moles who served the industry in one capacity or another in the Bush Administration's FDA." It's a project of the Pacific Research Institute, a corporate-funded think tank.


The doctor was very brave to take on the makers of Avandia and expose people to the risk. But at what point does the public start to WAKE UP and realize that pharma does not have their best interests at heart. How long are they going to keep supporting these lying sacks of you know what? I mean as dirty and underhanded as they are, the public needs to start exercising its critical thinking skills once in awhile. What is that saying? Burn me once and it is your fault, burn me twice and it is my fault. What is the reason for being burned more times than we can count?