Politicians & Big pharma - Australian PM & AMGEN

Jan 15, 2011

I've been away from here for a while but earlier today I posted this piece at my Crikey blog, The Northern Myth in Australia.

New PM Tony Abbott's Liberal Party coalition was successful at last Saturday's Australian general election. Abbott is a bike-riding fitness freak who each year rides a week-long "Pollie Pedal."

Pollie Pedal is sponsored four pharmaceutical companies (among other businesses), namely alphapharm, Roche and Pfizer. On his Pollie Pedal knicks the AMGEN logo is emblazoned across Abbott’s chest in bright blue and down the outside of each thigh. “AMGEN" is the largest biotech company.

Many here may be familiar with AMGEN's recent history in the US courts but those that are not, this excerpt may assist:

"In mid-December 2012 the Federal District Court in New York accepted AMGEN’s agreement to settle federal investigations into the marketing of several of its top-selling products. That settlement required AMGEN to pay $US150 million in criminal penalties following the entry of its guilty plea to one misdemeanour charge of marketing Aransep for unapproved uses, i.e. ‘off-label’, and a further $US612 million to settle civil ‘false claims’ suits bought by the American federal government, states and whistleblowers.
... In April 2013 AMGEN agreed to settle charges of illegally promoting Arensep, paying a further $US24.9 million for making kickbacks to pharmacy providers."

AMGEN has supported Pollie Pedal since 2007 (during which time Abbott was in Opposition) and for the 2013 year it paid $80,000 for the principal sponsorship.

My questions about this are firstly, should Abbott & Pollie Pedal continue to accept support from AMGEN (and the other pharma companies) now that the driving force behind Pollie Pedal leads the country?

Secondly, is AMGEN getting value for money. I reckon i know the answer to that one - the first sight Australian's 9and the rest of the world) had of Abbott the day after the election was in his AMGEN-emblazoned knicks ...

The piece is here if you'd like to read more:http://blogs.crikey.com.au/northern/2013/09/13/cheap-at-twice-the-price-the-prime-minister-and-big-pharma/

I welcome your comments here and at the blog.


It would have been nice if Tony had of at least
presented himself in club colours and maybe
only pulled on the event jersey or a cap later.

Regarding the American lawsuits, it is unfortunate
more of the doctors and hospital administrators
that benefited from their "relationship" with Amgen
were not named, shamed and prosecuted.
Jan 15, 2011
Abbott, Big Pharma & the knicks

I may be wrong but I reckon that Abbott only ever rides in Pollie Pedal colours.

This could be loyalty to his favourite fund-raising effort (which does quite well in terms of money raised & media gets).

The down side to that is that it is quite hard to see the smaller logos (including the Pollie Pedal & Carers Australia logos) and all that most people would see, and remember, is the AMGEN logo ...

And re the US lawsuits, I think there may be some way to go with other suits, though I'd want to confirm that.