SIDE EFFECTS: DEATH—Confessions of a Pharma Insider

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    What would you do if you made hundreds of thousands of dollars each year, and stayed in the best hotels and ate in the best restaurants around the world . . . wining and dining clients at posh resort destinations with the full approval of your bosses . . . selling the products of major pharmaceutical companies?

    Well, if you were John Virapen, Ph.D., you would write a tell-all book exposing the dirty, dark secrets of Big Pharma.

    John spent nearly four decades plying his trade: helping to gain approval for infamous drugs like Prozac, sweet-talking doctors and their staff to accept his free samples of the latest concoction from his company, bribing opinion leaders and regulatory authority employees, all to get more drugs into the hands of patients, some drugs that came with deadly side effects.

    After the birth of his last child over 10 years ago, the hackles on the back of his neck were raised when he saw who Big Pharma was marketing to now: kids. John decided right there and then to get the message out to as many as possible, to warn them about the pills he had been pushing, to educate them about the deadly side effects he knew existed, but that Big Pharma knew how to hide from public view.

    Thanks to John we can learn all their dirty tricks, for never has someone so close to the action and that privy to the ways of Big Pharma exposed it all in book form.

    Find out why John is known as the “Big Pharma Insider.”

    AUDIO INTERVIEW: “Big Pharma” Insider Talks Side Effects and Death

    I bribed a Swedish professor to enhance the registration of Prozac in Sweden.”—John Virapen

    Side Effects: Death is the true story of corruption, bribery and fraud written by Dr. John Virapen, who has been called the Big Pharma Insider. During his 35 years in the pharmaceutical industry internationally (most notably as general manager of Eli Lilly and Company in Sweden), Virapen was responsible for the marketing of several drugs, all of them with side effects.

    Now, Virapen is coming clean and telling all of the little secrets you were never intended to know!

    Pharmaceutical companies want to keep people sick. They want to make others think that they are sick. And they do this for one reason: money.

    Did you know?

    • Pharmaceutical companies invest more than €35,000 (over $50,000) per physician each year to get them to prescribe their products?
    • More than 75% of leading scientists in the field of medicine are “paid for” by the pharmaceutical industry?
    • Corruption prevailed in the approval and marketing of drugs in some cases?
    • Illnesses are made up by the pharmaceutical industry and specifically marketed to enhance sales and market shares for the companies in question?
    • Pharmaceutical companies increasingly target children?

    Softcover, 194 pages


    May 2007


    I Was a Global Player

    Marketing and Bribery

    My Past and the Future of My Son

    It’s All Just a Question of Money

    Productive Concern

    The Set-up of this Book

    Chapter 1

    How I Became What I Am

    Growing up in British Guyana “Do It or Else …”

    Europe, the First Time

    First Sales Training

    Twist of Fate

    Roman Magazine Sales

    To the Boundaries of Europe

    Hush Money

    The Good One-armed Man of Travemünde

    Sweden—My New Home

    Pop Star Jay Vee

    Chapter 2

    My Start in the Pharmaceutical Industry

    Becoming a Pharmaceutical Representative

    Sales Quota and Tricks

    Show & Tell


    Physician’s Gifts

    On the Road to Success

    Bridges to the Physician

    Question of Trust

    Rome Revisited

    Chapter 3

    Introduction to a Global Player

    Representative Training á la Virapen

    Turnover to the Power of Three

    Buying Opinion Leaders

    Hocus-pocus Physicians

    Group Photo with the Opinion Makers

    Chapter 4

    Benoxaprofen—The First Blockbuster Starts the Race

    Change of Strategy

    Exaggerated Advertising

    Chronology of Hushed up Deaths

    Chapter 5

    Vioxx—History Repeating Itself?

    Tolerance Myth

    Lessons from History

    Chapter 6

    Buying Doctors


    The Eli Lilly Jazz Festival

    Virapen’s Excesses? The Cash Flow at Lilly

    Chapter 7

    My Prozac Story

    Blockbuster Logic


    The Serotonin Theory

    Fat People are Great

    The Approval Procedure

    Development of a Drug

    Weaknesses in the Approval Procedure


    Seeding Trials – Feeding Trials

    Approval or Dismissal

    In the Car with Sidney Taurel

    The Pressure Increases

    I Buy a Psychiatrist

    What Psychiatrists Think About

    Hocus-pocus Science in the Hotel Room

    Price Negotiations for Prozac

    My Price Sets Standards

    Only the Price Counts

    Chapter 8

    What is “Depression”?

    Softening Diagnostic Boundaries

    Internal Lilly Memo


    Chapter 9

    Protocol 27

    Terminating Protocols

    Failure Doesn’t Count

    A Dwindling Number

    Only the Strongest Survive the Clinical Trials

    From 11,000 to 286

    Length of Treatment

    Long-Term Effect

    Newborn Babies on Withdrawal

    Useless Sledgehammers

    Uselessness—Well Known since 1984

    A Positive Effect Isn’t Required

    Antidepressants Cause Depression

    Chapter 10

    The Big Serotonin Scam

    Chapter 11

    Prozac on Trial

    Chapter 12

    625,000—My Nightmare Number

    Chapter 13

    Prozac in Germany (Fluctin) The Same Pattern as in Sweden?

    The German Federal Health Office (BGA) Rejects Fluoxetine

    Eli Lilly Involves the German Authorities

    Who had dinner with whom?

    Kids on Prozac

    Chapter 14

    Relocated to Puerto Rico

    Up, up and Away

    Promotion to Nowhere

    Final Conversation with Sidney Taurel

    Virapen vs. Lilly

    My Case Pending with the Public Prosecutor in Sweden

    Change of Law in Sweden

    The Law Is on Their Side

    Chapter 15

    Insulin—The Same Pattern

    Black List as Recommendation

    Insulin—An Ethical Start

    Are Humans the Better Pigs?


    Shortage of Drugs

    Approval of the New Insulin

    Patents Allow For High Prices

    Cut-throat Competition

    No Insulin Pens for Poor Countries

    10 Percent for Me

    Giving Without Taking

    Cheap Promises

    Chapter 16

    Off-Label Marketing - Growth Hormones

    No Sympathy—No Bribery

    Growth Hormones and Eternal Youth

    Fines in the Millions? Peanuts

    Ethical Standards?

    Schering, Pfizer, Lilly and Co.

    Chapter 17

    Hyperactivity or Made-up Illnesses

    Advertising for an Illness

    Reverse Burden of Proof

    Diffuse Indication

    The Pharmaceutical Industry Defines Social Standards

    Pressure from Below

    The Way Kids Are

    Heinrich Hoffmann’s Prototype Fidgety Philip Little Nick, Tom, Huck and Consorts

    Sales Representatives’ Logic

    Happiness in a Pill

    Is Prozac’s History Repeating Itself with Strattera?

    My Complaint about the ADHD Advertisement

    Chapter 18

    Depression—A National Disease? Kids on the Most-Wanted List

    From Questionnaire to Social Phobia

    Cutting out the Parents

    The Hocus-pocus Label

    Is Everything OK in Germany?

    Chapter 19


    Death is a Company Secret

    $1.2 Billion Hush Money

    Chapter 20

    Disinformation in the Waiting Room

    Health System Infected with Corruption

    Chapter 21

    What You Can Do?

    Ask Your Physician or Pharmacist


    Glossary of the Pharmaceutical World


    May 2007

    The peculiarity of my story is that the beginning continually changes. This preface is therefore the preface to the preface, and I fear that with each new edition, there will always be events, which are so closely related to my past, that they will have to be mentioned in this book …

    Unfortunately, the almost ghostly story of my past in the pharmaceutical industry appears to be writing itself. It is continually confirmed by the present, but it also repeatedly drags me back to that very playing field, which I thought I had left for good so long ago. So much for that.

    Latest incident: On February 25, 2007, at 1:35 a.m., as the statistics tab in Windows reveals, I finished the penultimate chapter of my memoirs. With a glass of Cognac to end the day, for once I finally relax and watched as the computer programs are leisurely closed, and the humming of the fan and hard drive finally relapse into silence. With the murmur of silence resounding in my ears, I slip into the bedroom to my wife and my young son.

    In the early morning I am pulled out of my deep sleep by a call from Atlanta, Georgia. Damned time difference! On the other end, it is no less than Andy Vickery. He is one of the most prominent and successful lawyers in lawsuits concerning the effects of psychotropic medicines on humans, which we commonly label with the innocent words “side effects.” In my story, these include suicide, murder and massacre. Vickery is a clever guy, but even he didn’t think about the time difference between his office in the United States and my home in southern Germany. I’ve forgiven him.

    Anyway, Andy Vickery is one of the few lawyers,who has been able to successfully carry out lawsuits for the aggrieved parties against the unbelievably potent machinery of Big Pharma. Vickery became aware of me via the internet. I introduced myself as a former employee of Eli Lilly and Company on YouTube and announced the publication of this book. Vickery immediately knew who he was watching on screen.

    On March 10, 2007, I fly to Atlanta. Andy Vickery has invited me to give expert testimony in court regarding a suicide in the USA. I don’t know the victim personally, nor do I know the exact circumstances of his death. He is said to have shot himself. I hear his name, Porter, for the first time. “A strange witness,” you may be thinking, and you’d be right, but I am more than just a witness. Vickery has leads about certain information, which seem to be important for his client, Porter’s widow, but he has no evidence. This is where I come into play. For Porter had been taking Prozac for no longer than a week and had been thrown so far off track that the only sensible option, that appeared open to him, was to shoot himself. Porter had been a successful businessman,who was not at all at risk of committing suicide,although he had seen his doctor about personal problems. He had then casually prescribed him Prozac. You know – a little “mood lifter,” nothing more. Well, after a week Porter’s mood had been “lifted” to such an extent that he shot himself.

    March 10th is a Saturday. I only have one day to acclimatize. It all begins on March 12. For two whole days, two lawyers from the pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly, my former employer, take on mine. Their objective: to try and discredit me as a person in order to make my testimony implausible and, at best, to exclude it from the proceedings. What I know and to which I testify under oath is dynamite. They are both there to defuse the bomb.

    For two whole days, they pester me with detailed questions about events which happened ten and even twenty years ago. Like a bizarre test at school … My memory doesn’t fail me, but the procedure does demand nerves and concentration. Over and over, one of them retreats to make a phone call and recall data to try to corner me. They don’t succeed. No matter how much this sort of questioning wears you out, if you tell the truth you will prevail. A tissue of lies can be torn apart. I know my way around my own story. No matter how unsteady the gangplank is that they are leading me down, I do not fall off. For two whole days, they duel with me using every trick in the book.

    Finally, as if in passing, a key question arises but it isn’t a factual one.

    “Why are you doing this, Mr. Virapen? Why are you concerning yourself so intensively with the past? Why can’t you just let it rest?”

    Enervated but still determined, I fling a photograph onto the table, a snapshot of my young son. “That’s why, because it’s about the future.”

    For a moment, silence reigns in the objectively cool court room. There is no whispering. There are no strategic consultations. No paper rustling. The files remain untouched for a moment.

    Over these past two days, they have chased me through my history like a bull being chased through the streets of Pamplona. For the whole of the following week, my mind remains completely empty. They have worn me out—but they haven’t won. They didn’t find any contradictions, lies or anything that wasn’t true.They do reserve the right to obtain an injunction against my testimony being admitted later, but then they don’t pursue it.

    My testimony stands. Andy Vickery will use it to support Porter’s widow’s lawsuit against Eli Lilly. But who knows if it will happen? Often enough, such lawsuits are stopped during the phase in which it becomes risky for the pharmaceutical giant, where it would have to reveal its confidential documents, and in which insiders of such a pharmaceutical giant would have their say. In such a phase, Goliath’s lawyers would normally try anything to prevent a showdown in court and would retreat into the semi-darkness of the backrooms of a hotel to settle the matter out of court. (And sometimes even trials, which they could win, but which would necessitate laying unpleasant facts on the table, are settled in this manner.)

    Hardly any of the plaintiffs can refuse the sums of money offered to them by the pharmaceutical giants. The corporation doesn’t have to show weakness and can maintain its clean image of a pharmaceutical industry, carrying out research in the name of humanity.

    “This trial cannot bring your husband back, no matter how it ends. At least, take this check as consolation and who knows, maybe you can start anew one day … Life goes on.”

    They will argue like this or in a similar manner. If they succeed, the struggle to allow my testimony to be used will have been for nothing. The transcript and the video of my testimony would be closed and sealed. And once again, the public would discover nothing of what really happened, how the mood lifter Prozac turned a person into a murdering machine.

    Nothing at all?

    Right now, you are holding the information in your hands that was included in the statement given in Atlanta in March 2007. And much more besides. If my testimony given under oath should be shelved and the truth about Prozac and Porter should fall by the wayside – it would be deplorable for this case. My testimony is just as valid for many other cases. Then, as you may recall, I wasn’t familiar with this specific case; instead, I was invited to Atlanta as an expert on psychotropic drugs and bribery. And what I said there is of importance far beyond Porter’s case. In the case of the homicidal maniac, Cho Seung Hui, at a university in Virginia, it was revealed that he had been in psychiatric care – and I can imagine what that could mean. In this case too, it is being speculated whether psychotropic drugs turned a person into a murdering machine. To put an end to the speculation, facts should be laid on the table and with them, the truth, instead of out of court agreements and temporary injunctions.

    My flight to Atlanta and other current cases certainly show how important my story is, today.

    John Virapen, May 2007

    John Virapen has worked over 35 years in the pharmaceutical industry. In Sweden he was general manager of Eli Lilly & Company and was involved in the market launch of several drugs, also such with massive side effects.

    Born in British Guyana, Dr. John Virapen went from being a door-to-door conman to a pop star, to a pharmaceutical representative to executive director of one of the largest drug companies in the world. He admits to participating in bribery, false information and deception to help launch and market some of the most popularly prescribed (and most dangerous) drugs. In an effort to exorcise his demons and expose the tactics and dangers of the pharmaceutical industry, he wrote Side Effects: Death and Medicine Cult.

    Personal message:

    Listen to my true story . . .

    * Pharmaceutical companies want to keep people sick.
    * They want to make them think that they are sick.
    * They increasingly target our children and they are killing them!
    * And they do this for one reason: Money!

    Why do I know this? I was a culprit myself.

    During my 35 years in the pharmaceutical industry internationally, most notably as general manager of Eli Lilly and Company in Sweden, I was responsible for the market of several drugs, all of them with side effects.

    My book Side Effects: Death is the true story of corruption, bribery and fraud.

    My goal is to contribute more transparency and more regulation of the criminal atrocities performed by Big Pharma!

    I cannot do this alone. You can help by joining the cause.

    * Read my book and recommend it to others
    * Help spread the word on Facebook and Twitter


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