Deadly Drug Trials: Western Firms Bribed East German Doctors
2013 05 24

By Nicola Kuhrt and Peter Wensierski | Spiegel


It wasn’t just the East German government that benefited from risky patient drug trials commissioned by Western pharmaceutical manufacturers decades ago. These companies also sent liaisons with lavish gifts to bribe and influence doctors to participate.

The presents always came in the springtime. When the representatives of Western pharmaceutical companies arrived at the Leipzig Trade Fair, they made sure that East German doctors were very well looked after.

One doctor enthusiastically described his experiences in a subsequent report to the Ministry of State Security, or Stasi. According to his account, things would get off to a cheerful start every morning at the booth run by Mack, now a Pfizer subsidiary: "There was champagne on the table, along with a carton of cigarettes, and the usual cosmetic products for my wife."

After that, he would head over to Swiss drug maker Ciba-Geigy, now part of Novartis. The doctor, an orthopedist identified by the code name "Jörg," says that he was taken "behind the scenes" and treated "very smoothly." At the booth for Frankfurt-based pharmaceutical industry supplier Degussa (now part of Evonik Industries), a representative made an effort to set things right with the physician when he learned that gifts sent for his children hadn’t yet arrived. The rep promised they would be sent as a "direct package shipment."

The physician then proceeded to booths operated by Bayer, along with a British, an American and a Swiss company. After a few hours, "Jörg," then a department head in a hospital in Schwedt, in the state of Brandenburg, felt pleasantly tipsy. "By noon, I was almost drunk, and my head was filled with dirty stories about women that were not exactly professional."

Pharmaceutical companies from West Germany and other Western countries exercised little restraint when they wanted to test new drugs on the other side of the Berlin Wall. They paid the government of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) millions for extensive clinical trials, in which at least 50,000 East German citizens served as subjects, often unknowingly.

It has now emerged that these envoys from the West were running a corrupt system to recruit East German doctors for their controversial drug trials. Companies like Bayer and Sandoz also employed lobbyists to develop high-level contacts in the GDR.

Everyone Wins, Except for the Patient

It was a mutually beneficial arrangement. The companies gained access to clinical trial results at a low cost, while their partners in the East received cash, gifts and medical technology for their hospitals. According to a Stasi report, in 1981 alone, the companies sent East German researchers about 250 invitations for what were usually lavishly funded trips to the West. "To promote their commercial interests," the Stasi files read, the companies took advantage of "opportunities involving corruption and bribery."

The patients, however, were treated with far less consideration. They were neither compensated nor thoroughly informed about what would be done to their bodies, say victims today. Survivors report that they have yet to receive compensation for the harm they suffered.

[...]

Read the full article at: spiegel.de




Related Articles
How Big Pharma recycles old drugs—even bad ones
The drugs don’t work: a modern medical scandal
Big Pharma’s shame: emerging markets bribery
Seven Diseases Big Pharma Hopes You Get
Why Big Pharma (and the Public) Doesn’t Want an Addiction Vaccine


Latest News from our Front Page

NATO Exercise in Ukraine Coincided with MH-17 Shoot-down
2014 07 24
Rapid Trident was omitted from the flurry of coverage on the shoot-down MH-17. From the U.S. Army in Europe website: Rapid Trident supports interoperability among Ukraine, the United States, NATO and Partnership for Peace member nations. The exercise helps prepare participants to operate successfully in a joint, multinational, integrated environment with host-nation support from civil and governmental agencies. ...
Warning of ’imminent’ terror attack in Norway
2014 07 24
Norwegians were warned Thursday of the concrete possibility of a terror attack occurring in that country at the hands of people with connections to an extremist group in Syria. A press conference was called in Oslo, Norway on Thursday where an announcement was made of a "possible concrete threat" to national security in that country from terrorists related to an extremist ...
Judge says government can access everything in a Gmail account
2014 07 24
All your emails are belong to us. At least that’s what the latest court order from a judge in New York says. The warrant, granted on June 11, states that the government can access all the content and files contained in a Gmail account. Yes, this is a significant blow to privacy. The subject of this specific search relates to a money laundering ...
Scotland Yard Spied on Grieving Families: secret surveillance after police victim shot seven times in head ’by mistake’
2014 07 24
More terror from the ’anti-terror’ brigade. Undercover police gathered evidence on 18 grieving families By Rob Evans and Vikram Dodd | The Guardian Undercover police officers secretly gathered intelligence over two decades on 18 families fighting to get justice from the police, it was revealed on Thursday. The intelligence covering high-profile campaigns was collected between the mid-1980s and 2005, and affected grieving families ...
Air Algerie AH5017 with 116 onboard goes missing for hours, found crashed in Mali
2014 07 24
An Air Algerie flight carrying 110 passengers and six crew members has reportedly crashed in Mali after having disappeared from radar early on Thursday morning between Burkina Faso and Algeria. A French Ministry of Defense official told Fox News that the two French fighter jets located the wreckage of the plane, which had crashed in Mali. An airport official additionally confirmed ...
More News »