Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Health News Belongs In the Health Section, Right?

Unless the New York Times thinks that a drug giant paying a $3 billion fine doesn't fit the definition of "health news". I tend toward disagreement. The article about GlaxoSmithKline and its whopper of a fine can be found in the Business section, but it appears nowhere under the health banner. This is particularly unfortunate because I suspect there's a lot of people who scan the "Health" headlines without ever entertaining a thought of browsing the Business stories. And in theory they'd be most interested.

Though tucked away in the wrong spot, the article is a good primer on issues related to inappropriate promotion of drugs by their manufacturers. In this case, GSK was fined for a variety of shenanigans, mostly related to its psychiatric formulary (the details of such misbehaviors, predictable as they are, are briefly sketched out in the article).

Perhaps the article's most important point is that, while seemingly a huge fine, it may be regarded as no more than a parking ticket to company executives. For starters, no individual will face any charges. "What we're learning is that money doesn't deter corporate malfeasance," former NY attorney general Eliot Spitzer is quoted as saying. Stifle the laughter: Spitzer, before his own fall from grace, sued GSK on behalf of New York back in 2004 for similar issues, so he's an appropriate sound bite for the article.

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