There’s a running idea here in the United States that private industry can take care of everything perfectly. They point to something the U.S. government did wrong, real or imagined, and use it as an example. However, the simple truth is that private industry messes up just as often as the government, if not more.
Not only that but many times there’s no mistake involved. Rather, it was a perfectly foreseeable outcome of trying to save money on one thing or another. Someone gave the order to use shoddy equipment, or sub-par materials, or fire a huge number of quality assurance workers. The end result is that a product is not just badly made but actually causes injury to people.
Not sure about that? Take the following examples.
Eli Lilly And Prozac Weekly
The patent on Prozac Daily ran out in 2002, which left the patent holder in a predicament. Namely, people had begun using generic versions of their anti-depressant. They did the normal things, such as bribe doctors (which can be done legally via gifts) and sending questionable studies to pharmacies. Many drug companies use these tactics to make their drug look better than others. This doesn’t mean Prozac was useless, quite the contrary. Many people require anti-depressants to live a functional life.
That’s the very thing Eli Lilly was relying on. They managed to acquire patient records and began shipping free monthly supplies of Prozac Weekly to people on the list. The marketing strategy was the same strategy illegal drug dealers use to get people hooked by giving away the first dose free.
How Much Danger Did It Pose?
Eli Lilly put people in danger in multiple ways. First and foremost, they got actual physicians to sign letters to their patients. This gave their mailings the air of authenticity. In many cases, the physicians in question had good intentions. It was being pitched as a way to get their patients free samples of necessary drugs.
In practice, it wound up putting their patients at risk, both mentally and physically. The marketing said to stop taking current anti-depressants immediately and switch to Prozac Weekly. However, people are supposed to be weaned off anti-depressants slowly. It can cause system shock to do otherwise. Not just that, but since anti-depressants have to build up in the system, it put patients at risk of falling into a depressive episode. This could affect their quality of life in multiple ways, up to and including causing them to commit suicide.
This eventually went to court, where many people won their lawsuits against either doctors or the company. In total, 300 people in southern Florida were targeted. Eli Lilly fired several employees, but unfortunately did nothing wrong by a technical reading of the law. The physicians were on the hook according to the law, and many of them had to pay out on lawsuits.
Why would Eli Lilly and Company do such a thing? All to make money by getting people to switch from a generic, daily anti-depressant to their patented weekly anti-depressant. Because at the end of the day, private industry wants a profit and couldn’t care less about human life.