Nov. 29, 2009

Patients who suffer from very rare disorders are usually at the complete mercy of Big Pharma.

That's a lot like being a wounded little fish at the mercy of a big shark it rarely works out very well for the little fish.

Take those poor minnows who rely on meds made by Genzyme. Some of the meds used to treat rare enzyme disorders were recently found to be contaminated with bits of lab trash.

But guess what? Genzyme is allowed to keep on making them and patients have to keep on taking them. The feds say they can't shut this company down because too many patients would have nowhere else to turn.

So who's really calling the shots here? Hint: It ain't the feds. This is the second time this year that Genzyme has been cited for contaminated drugs, yet these trash-peddling pushers still aren't feeling any real heat.

In June, the company had to shut down one of its facilities because of viral contamination. In the latest case, inspectors found the meds were contaminated with bits of stainless steel, pieces of rubber from vial stoppers and some kind of fiber.

This should be enough to shut this company down and let someone else make these meds. But nope Genzyme's the big shark here, and they own this ocean... along with the patents.

So here are the drugs you need to be wary of: Cerezyme, Fabrazyme, Myozyme, Aldurazyme and Thyrogen. All of them were made at Genzyme's biotechnology facility in Allston Landing, Massachusetts.

These are very expensive drugs. Cerezyme can cost a patient or insurance company around $300,000 per year. That means even though only around 5,000 people take this med in the entire world, it still rakes in more than a billion dollars a year.

And they don't even have to advertise it.

You'd think that kind of money would at least buy a carefully made drug. But in Big Pharma's shark-eat-fish world, money doesn't buy you much of anything, least of all protection.

On a shark hunt,

William Campbell Douglass II, M.D.