Saturday, September 29, 2007

Say it ain’t so Bristol-Meyers Squibb

When I read about the $515 million fine Bristol-Meyers Squibb paid for illegal marketing of its antipsychotic drug Abilify I felt like the young Chicago White Sox fan in 1919 (the year of the “Black Sox” fix of the World Series) who said to his hero Joe Jackson – “say it ain’t so Joe!”

Unfortunately for the young fan, it was so.

I have several patients who have derived excellent benefit from Abilify. We have spoken about how grateful we are to have a medication that is serving them so well. The manufacturer of the product is – in an emotional sense – a member of the treatment team. For us the exposure of Bristol-Meyers Squibb’s illegal practices isn’t just a fact about “business.” It is a taint on the caretaking process, like news about psychiatrists exploiting their patients sexually.

All those involved in health care are in it together. Bristol-Meyers Squibb’s lapse of integrity doesn't just violate business rules and create potential harms through false advertising -- it contributes to reducing trust even for those who benefit from using its products.

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