Novo Nordisk Short on Ethics?

I’m a little late addressing this one. And a lot disappointed! I always had such a positive impression of Novo Nordisk as this sort of squeaky-clean new generation Scandinavian insulin powerhouse. But it seems they’ve got their mitts dirty playing in the Pharma Big Leagues: they apparently paid off at least one Rite Aid pharmacist to push their insulin products on patients and doctors, in some cases without even notifying the patient of the prescription change.

According to the NYT, the company also paid doctors’ assistants when prescriptions were switched, citing two former sales representatives as sources. Ughh!

Nnflag Here’s a company that enjoys a vibrant image, largely through its active outreach and marketing campaigns. And until now, the contrast with more the established, “Old School” Eli Lilly helped make Novo look like a younger, more caring underdog. Their presence was fun.

As D-industry analyst Kelly Close points out, Novo invariably has the most lavish vendor displays at diabetes’ conventions, and it recently sponsored a book about children with diabetes. “But it’s possible Novo benefited from more than creative marketing. Indeed the specter of possible illegal or unethical activity casts a shadow over the company at a time when authorities are already scrutinizing drug and medical device companies that pay consulting fees to doctors. The authorities are also trying to crack down on any activity that might compromise patient safety for profits.”

On Feb. 6, the company published a response to the NYT article, stating:

“The information reported in The New York Times on Saturday, January 28, 2006, is not new to us, but nonetheless is concerning. For legal reasons we cannot provide details, other than saying that disciplinary action has been taken against a small number of employees who were found to be in violation of our company policies… Where necessary, we will review our policies and practices to ensure such conduct does not reoccur.”

Now personally, I have tried both Humalog and Novolog, and didn’t see a speck of difference in my regimen or BG results. The two insulins seem interchangeable to me. I just happen to like the Novo injection pens much better (I actually need their Junior Pen because it’s the only one providing half-unit doses). And I always had a warm, fuzzy feeling about the company. They seem so dynamic, and gave the impression of really caring about patients.

Now that sentiment is all blown to hell! Makes me melancholy, as in:

I don’t know where I’m going
But, I sure know where I’ve been
Hanging on the promises
In songs of yesterday
An’ I’ve made up my mind,
I ain’t wasting no more time
But, here I go again
Here I go again … on my own again


6 Responses

  1. Angus
    Angus February 27, 2006 at 9:10 am | | Reply

    Whitesnake – classic. Make sure you adjust your dose if you will be dancing around on a Firebird hood for a video.

  2. Kassie
    Kassie February 27, 2006 at 10:51 am | | Reply

    wasn’t Novo the one with the *two story* ‘booth’ at ADA last summer? I was so naive before I went to the exhibit hall at that convention ;)

  3. sweetsnomo
    sweetsnomo February 27, 2006 at 2:04 pm | | Reply

    I had high feelings for the company after watching D-Life yesterday and their program about “The Story Of Insulin”. They profiled Lilly and Novo Nordisc as mass producers of the insulin we use today. Makes me look at them in a whole new light (well not really as I sometimes think a cure would put many of these companies out of business so what’s the hurry…).

    (I think I’ve changed all the settings on my blog if you want to try again. Thanks!)

  4. JasonJayhawk
    JasonJayhawk February 27, 2006 at 10:45 pm | | Reply

    Makes you wonder how much our little bottles of insulin would cost to our insurance companies if the overhead of advertising wasn’t required.

    Type 1′s don’t really need the advertising…we’ll take whatever insulin keeps us living.

    Thanks for lighting up this Novo issue. Novo looks and sounds guilty — the letter from the CEO is a classic case of not thinking before pressing the send button.

    Unfortunately, any fines to this company will only be passed on to the consumer. Fines won’t hurt them one bit unless it’s taken from the executives personal piggybanks. Fine them a million, or a billion — who pays? We do! Who wins? The lawyers.

  5. Scott Strumello
    Scott Strumello March 2, 2006 at 5:04 pm | | Reply

    No need to worry … Novo-Nordisk is not alone. Today, the Connecticut Attorney General issued a subpoena to Eli LIlly & Co. (as well as syringe-maker B-D) for “anticompetitive practices”. This is part of a broader problem with the big pharmaceutical industry.

    Lilly Discloses Subpoena From State

    Connecticut Seeks Data On Practices Involving A Health-Care Association

    By Vanessa Fuhrmans, The Wall Street Journal
    March 2, 2006; Page D6

    The Connecticut attorney general has issued nearly four dozen subpoenas, including one reported by drug maker Eli Lilly & Co., inquiring about possible anticompetitive practices involving an association of hospitals and health-care product and service companies.

    The investigation, begun last summer, involves Healthcare Research and Development Institute LLC, a Pensacola, Fla.-based organization of executives from several dozen hospitals, health-care systems and other companies in health care. The group’s Web site says it provides a forum for companies to share ideas in improving hospitals and health care.

    Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said his office is probing whether the institute is violating antitrust rules in any arrangements to buy services and supplies, including prescription drugs and medical devices.

    The group has “a structure and limited membership that calls into question some of its stated purposes,” Mr. Blumenthal said. Some of the organization’s members are executives from Becton, Dickinson & Co., a medical supplies and device maker; MedAssets Inc., a hospital supply chain manager; and Sodexho Health Care Services, a unit of Sodexho Alliance SA of France, which provides hospital food and other services, he said. He declined to say whether these companies were targets of the probe.

    Mr. Blumenthal added that 45 subpoenas have been issued to various manufacturers and other health-care companies in relation to the investigation, but wouldn’t disclose their names. Eli Lilly disclosed it had received its subpoena for documents tied to the health-care organization in its annual report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

    Executives at Healthcare Research and Development Institute couldn’t be reached for comment.

    Eli Lilly didn’t have any immediate comment, and executives at MedAssets and Sodexho couldn’t be reached for comment.

    Becton Dickinson confirmed that it also has received a subpoena related to its membership in the organization. In a December filing with the SEC, it said it believed its participation in the group has been in compliance with the law.

    URL for this article:

  6. rishi kant varma
    rishi kant varma July 6, 2007 at 9:49 am | | Reply

    im suffering from diabities & was on Glynase 5mg 2 tabs bd but my B/S became uncotrolled so my Physician has put me on Humensuline injection 15-10 units before the principal meals &trying to controle my blood sugar.i keep on moving place to place How should i manage it?
    Thanks for suggestions ion anticipation.

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