Thursday, July 5, 2012

Purdue and GSK: Unintentional Irony in the Wall Street Journal

I'm still a little upset about the path Purdue Pharma is taking to extend patent exclusivity for Oxycontin for six additional months: testing in kids.  The same day this hit the news (Tuesday), it was also reported that GlaxoSmithKline had agreed to plead guilty to charges of illegally marketing drugs and intentionally withholding safety data from US regulators. 

Pages B2 and B3 of Tuesday's WSJ contain the two stories, virtually side by side.  Excerpts from both:

B3: "Purdue hopes to gain six extra months next year of patent protection for Oxycontin by testing whether the powerful painkiller is safe for children."

B2: "The Justice Department says GSK improperly promoted some of its drugs from 1999 through 2010 for off-label uses.  [One highlight from the government complaint]: Marketing Paxil, an antidepressant, as safe for children, despite trials that raised concerns about suicide.  Example: Gave free samples to child psychiatrists." 

Despite assurances from Purdue that the company doesn't promote the use of Oxycontin for children, I found the juxtaposition of these two stories both troubling and ironic.

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