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

Recent Israeli Synagogue Attack, a Possible False Flag?
2014 11 21
Dear Friends - I woke up yesterday morning to see a newspaper lying on the kitchen table with the front page proclaiming that five people were slain in an Israeli synagogue after a so-called "Palestinian attack." Some members of the media said that four people were killed, others said five, so it seems like that there was some confusion (or ...
The Michael Brown Shooting, Race Baiting for Political Power and Militarization of the Police
2014 11 21
From Youtube: The evidence clearly shows that Officer Darren Wilson was justified in shooting Michael Brown, so why is this case being hyped by the mainstream media and the leftist political establishment?
Detekt: A New Malware Detection Tool That Can Expose Illegitimate State Surveillance
2014 11 21
Recent years have seen a boom in the adoption of surveillance technology by governments around the world, including spyware that provides its purchasers the unchecked ability to target remote Internet users’ computers, to read their personal emails, listen in on private audio calls, record keystrokes and passwords, and remotely activate their computer’s camera or microphone. EFF, together with Amnesty International, ...
New UK spy chief says tech giants aid terrorism, privacy not ‘absolute right’
2014 11 21
Robert Hannigan, the new head of GCHQ The new head of Britain’s GCHQ, the UK equivalent of the NSA in the U.S., said he believes privacy is not an absolute right and that tech giants must open themselves up to intelligence agencies. “GCHQ is happy to be part of a mature debate on privacy in the digital age,” Hannigan said. “But privacy ...
LOL: Atheist Feminist Pornographer Used as Moral Authority in T-shirt Row
2014 11 21
Dr. Matt Taylor was thrust into the headlines this last week, largely for his lead role in successfully landing a spacecraft on a comet 300 million miles from earth that travels at a speed of 85,000 mph. In short, Taylor and his colleagues pulled off one of the most amazing achievements in contemporary science and space exploration, and in a ...
More News »