Glaxo paying $3 Billion fine for fraud and deceptive marketing

The British drug company GlaxoSmithKline said Thursday that it had agreed to pay $3 billion to settle United States government civil and criminal investigations into its sales practices for numerous drugs.

The settlement would be the largest yet in a wave of federal cases against pharmaceutical companies accused of illegal marketing, surpassing the previous record of $2.3 billion paid by Pfizer in 2009. In recent years, drug companies have been prime targets of federal fraud investigations, which have recovered tens of billions of dollars for Medicaid and Medicare.

The cases against GlaxoSmithKline include illegal marketing of Avandia, a diabetes drug that was severely restricted last year after it was linked to heart risks. Federal prosecutors said the company had paid doctors and manipulated medical research to promote the drug…I keep forgetting about the “high standards” of our medical professionals.

The agreement to settle its biggest federal cases should be completed next year, the company added in the statement. It said $3 billion would settle not only the Avandia case, but also a Justice Department investigation of its Medicaid pricing practices and a nationwide investigation led by the United States attorneys in Colorado and Massachusetts into the sales and marketing of nine of its drugs from 1997 to 2004…

Critics of the settlements made with drug companies argued for stiffer penalties, including prison sentences for corporate officials…How about prison sentences for Congress-thugs who enabled a lot of the fraud?

Patrick Burns, spokesman for Taxpayers Against Fraud, an advocacy group for whistle-blowers, said, “Who at Glaxo is going to jail as a part of this settlement? Who in management is being excluded from doing future business with the U.S. government..?”

Mr. Burns said the health care sector accounted for more than 80 percent of the $4 billion in overpayments recovered by the government in 2010 as a result of whistle-blower lawsuits and resulting fraud investigations by federal and state agencies.

But, don’t worry. The Republicans in Congress just ran a bill through the House to remove jury trials from whistleblower lawsuits. They feel safer relying on judges.

Perish the thought we should have a system of laws and sanctions which involves ordinary Americans who might not understand about treating really important corporations with the proper respect.

Hospital billboard is removed for offending nutballs with “OMG”

Akron Children’s Hospital has opted to drop “OMG” from future advertising after a few complaints over its new billboard in the Montrose shopping area.

The billboard reads “OMG! There’s an Akron Children’s ER in Montrose!” and looks down upon the busy intersection of Route 18 and Cleveland-Massillon Road.

Blogger Cindy Orley felt the sign was a slam against God and began writing about it last week. She and her father, a local minister, voiced concerns to Children’s Hospital.

Hospital leaders say they meant no disrespect and received few complaints but, nevertheless, they will drop OMG from future advertisements.

I wouldn’t expect a typical hospital administrator to have more backbone than a marshmallow – or Akron, Ohio to be the center for sophisticated communications; but, rolling over and playing dead for offending some local religious nutball should be disgusting to the remainder of thoughtful adults in the region.

You are out there aren’t you?

Rent a discounted ride – in a rolling billboard

In the next few months, visitors to Atlanta may spot red cars plastered in black and white ads parked at tourist hot spots. But these sedans and SUVs won’t be driven by product employees or marketers. Families and travelers on vacation will be behind the wheel.

Budget Rent a Car of Atlanta will offer 25 vehicles wrapped in advertising to consumers at a discounted cost until November. Prices will fluctuate based on the daily rental rate, but consumers can save hundreds of dollars. One of the first customers signed up for the deal secured an SUV for four days at $88, saving about $200.

Several hundred people have already tried to book a vehicle, according to Matt Custage, vice president of Wrap Media Group — the company based in Boca Raton, Florida, that came up with the idea to advertise on rental cars.

Wrap Media decided to launch the campaign in Atlanta because the city has a large rental car market and hosts one of the busiest airports in the country. Atlanta tourist destinations such as the Georgia Aquarium, Turner Field and Stone Mountain Park are “high exposure areas” where rental cars typically travel, and advertisers believe the sites are prime locations to market their products, Custage said.
Travelers interested in renting a wrapped vehicle must first qualify by filling out an online survey that determines if they will be traveling to a populated area…

All parties involved have high hopes for the venture, which hasn’t been tried before. Based on the immediate positive response, Custage said plans are under way to work with national advertisers and rental car companies in other cities. He also mentioned the possibility of expanding the idea to rental RVs.

Absolutely an All-American idea. Given the size of adverts already pretending to be logos on clothing and shoes, cars are a logical next step. Though I can foresee a problem if a bible-toting family arrives for a holiday trip to Stone Mountain Park – and the only car remaining carries an advert, say, for Planned Parenthood.

Banana attacks gorilla

Round up the usual suspects.

The manager of a northern Ohio cellphone store told 911 dispatchers that his gorilla mascot had been attacked by a banana.

Wireless Center manager in Strongsville said his main advertisement involves using a employee to sit at a curbside in a gorilla suit.

Manager Brandon Parham said he was looking outside and saw a kid dressed as a banana emerge from the bushes behind the store mascot and tackle the man in the gorilla suit…

I think it’s a cheap publicity stunt… but sometimes those should be rewarded. Here go.

Samsung ready to market mass produced transparent LCD panels

When it comes to display technologies nothing says “cool” like a transparent display. While we’ve seen a number of prototypes, such as TDK’s flexible OLED display, pop up at trade shows in the last couple of years, Samsung has announced it has already started mass production of a 22-inch transparent LCD panel.

Because they rely on ambient light instead of the usual back lighting, the transparent panels consume 90 percent less electricity than conventional LCD panels. But despite the fact the new panels are starting to roll off the Samsung production lines, it will probably still be a while before transparent panels make it onto our desktops…

No doubt reflecting the expected high price of the transparent panels – and possibly while the boffins at Samsung rack their brains for possible everyday home and office applications – Samsung is touting the possibilities for the panels for use in advertising in shop windows and outdoor billboards. It also says corporations and schools could put the panels to use as an interactive communication device…

Just the kind of tech that I believe will be easy to commercialize. Americans aren’t especially familiar with the ubiquitous LCD screen/panels facing every form of transportation around the world – from foot traffic to underground waiting platforms – but, it seems an obvious step to replace fully transparent glass with nothing more than a single painted or glowing sign with something that offers the capacity for motion and slide shows.

How to brand a disease — and sell a cure

If you want to understand the way prescription drugs are marketed today, have a look at the 1928 book, “Propaganda,” by Edward Bernays, the father of public relations in America.

For Bernays, the public relations business was less about selling things than about creating the conditions for things to sell themselves. When Bernays was working as a salesman for Mozart pianos, for example, he did not simply place advertisements for pianos in newspapers. That would have been too obvious.

Instead, Bernays persuaded reporters to write about a new trend: Sophisticated people were putting aside a special room in the home for playing music. Once a person had a music room, Bernays believed, he would naturally think of buying a piano. As Bernays wrote, “It will come to him as his own idea.”

Just as Bernays sold pianos by selling the music room, pharmaceutical marketers now sell drugs by selling the diseases that they treat. The buzzword is “disease branding.”

To brand a disease is to shape its public perception in order to make it more palatable to potential patients. Panic disorder, reflux disease, erectile dysfunction, restless legs syndrome, bipolar disorder, overactive bladder, ADHD, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, even clinical depression: All these conditions were once regarded as rare until a marketing campaign transformed the brand.

Once a branded disease has achieved a degree of cultural legitimacy, there is no need to convince anyone that a drug to treat it is necessary. It will come to him as his own idea…

It is hard to brand a disease without the help of physicians, of course. So drug companies typically recruit academic “thought leaders” to write and speak about any new conditions they are trying to introduce. It also helps if the physicians believe the branded condition is dangerous.

Interesting article. There is an obvious parallel in American politics. The Madison Avenue thugs who worked for the Bush, Cheney and Rove troika being the leading example.

RTFA and reflect upon cultural advances like “I’m always peeing in my pants” becoming “overactive bladder” – or how shyness was transformed into social anxiety disorder.

Drug companies con the public with minimal advances in medicine

Drug companies have been accused of conning the public in a report that claimed more than four fifths of new medicines offer few benefits.

An estimated 85 per cent of drugs coming onto the market offer only slight advances on existing treatments while having the potential to cause serious harm due to toxicity or misuse, the study concluded…

”Sometimes drug companies hide or downplay information about serious side-effects of new drugs and overstate the drugs’ benefits,” said Prof Donald Light, a professor of comparative health policy at the University of Medicine and Dentistry in New Jersey.

”Then, they spend two to three times more on marketing than on research to persuade doctors to prescribe these new drugs. Doctors may get misleading information and then misinform patients about the risks of a new drug. It’s really a two-tier market for lemons.”

He alleged that the pharmaceutical industry owned companies in charge of drug testing and provided ”firewalls” of legal protection behind which information about dangers or lack of effectiveness could be be hidden.

Companies were assisted by the ”relatively low bar” for effectiveness that had to be crossed to get a new drug approved…

”A few basic changes could improve the quality of trials and evidence about the real risks and benefits of new drugs. We could also increase the percentage of new drugs that are really better for patients.”

In his paper, Prof Light concluded: “The evidence here indicates that the two-tier market for prescription drugs is the largest and most dangerous market for lemons in modern society. Neither wars nor used car injuries come close.

Nothing that a lot of us haven’t recognized for years; but, it’s always helpful to see legitimate studies provide some ammo against the greedy bastards running the pharmaceutical industry.

I’ve long felt the barrage of advertisements in the mass media for prescription drugs should be outlawed like cigarettes. If they’re beneficial, your physician will have learned about them. Otherwise, the pharma giants are just building artificial demand with their propaganda.

Adverts for ‘Valentine’s Day’ remove gay characters

Valentine’s Day is coming! And with it the usual traditions that include an outrageous price hike in roses, an outrageous price hike in restaurant dining, and the well-timed rom-com. The role of the latter belongs to a flick to be released on Feb. 12, “Valentine’s Day.” (What a clever title, eh?)

However, from the posters and trailers for the film it is hard to know that the infamous “McSteamy” is in the film. Eric Dane’s name appears on the movie posters, but, unlike the rest of the cast, his face is not present on the actor-compiled heart. In the trailers for the film Dane is not shown in any of the scenes extracted from the movie, he is just shown alongside his name. So what is Dane’s role? Narrator?

Nope. In reality Dane is a victim of advertisement editing that eliminates the trace of homosexual relationships in a film, even though they are central to the storyline. In other words, the film’s advertisements have been “de-gayed.” (And yes that means that Dane’s character is shacking up with another one of the male desirables in the film.)

In “Valentine’s Day,” Dane plays Bradley Cooper’s closeted football-player boyfriend. Would learning this info from the trailers and posters for the film have made you more or less interested in seeing it?

Unfortunately, regardless of your reaction, those in charge of marketing have already decided for you. Instead of playing on the publicity of a dreamy Cooper and Dane partnership – “Brokeback Mountain,” anyone?, the advertisers of the film have decided to disguise it.

Most of the folks running promotion, distribution, marketing for the wonderful world of American mass media haven’t made it past Chickenshit 101, yet. They should be in Congress.

Dumb crook of the day!

His previous business

Matthew Delorey was a 26-year old with a business plan: selling hacked cable modems. This is the sort of business that a budding entrepreneur should probably keep on the down-low, or at least limit to those tiny text ads at the back of magazines where satellite descramblers are sold, but that’s no way to rake in the cash.

That’s why Delorey, of New Bedford, Massachusetts, posted ads on Craigslist and then—rather incredibly—put up YouTube videos with names like “ How to Get Free Internet Free Cable Internet Comcast or any Cable ISP—100% works…”

But Delorey attracted some federal attention, and an FBI agent purchased two modems from Massmodz. The modems were sent to Motorola, which confirmed that they had been hacked, and the FBI arrested Delorey Thursday morning at his home.

He is charged with wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Each charge carries a maximum of 20 years in jail and a $250,000 fine.

Selling hacked cable modems and advertising them openly may have been a decent business model a decade ago, but it hardly seems worth bothering about today. The ISPs have been familiar with the practice since the beginning, when hackers would try to alter modem profiles in order to get more bandwidth than they were paying for.

The FBI may be run by conservative, knuckle-dragging noobies; but, let’s face it – they will notice a crook dumb enough to advertise his services.

Recession forces Media Barons to turn towards the Web

The recession-fueled advertising downturn underlines the urgency of using the Web to glean data and target consumers directly, rather than blasting them with a barrage of TV-style ads, media executives say…

As advertising dollars grow ever more scarce, companies have been forced to rethink how they reach consumers and have moved away from the traditional 30-second spot to the kinds of targeted, Internet-driven marketing campaigns that have been talked about for years…

Marketing is on an arc to become more efficient. My dollar should go further. And that says the advertising pool may not grow at the rate that it’s traditionally grown at, even out of this recession.”

Targeting consumers via demographics, profiling, and their social networks, “you learn a lot about people and you can identify them,” Jonathan Miller added.

The thinking among these media executives is that advances in technology is enabling them to build more detailed profiles of consumers — which can then either be sold as a commodity or employed in their own marketing campaigns…

But Ed Moran, director of product innovation for Deloitte, said tracking tastes and developing profiles is fine, as long as advertisers do not make the old media mistake of finding their optimum consumers, only to show them a commercial…

Even actor and media producer Ashton Kutcher chimed in at the conference, saying the billboard-style display ad is already outdated.

“People who have grown up on the Internet have trained themselves not to see it,” he added.

Sounds like what they should be paying for viral distribution and influence. That leaves them to choose between hypocrites and flacks on one side – and pain-in-the-ass opinionated cranks like me.

Which do you think they will choose? 🙂

Har! I ain’t planning on opening a new bank account.