Thursday, 8 January 2009

Doctor good, pharma bad?

I know a fair few medical doctors (including four of my own relatives) and without exception all are very good people and very skilled: they are kind and caring, wish the best for others having dedicated their lives to serving others and have undergone extensive and difficult training. How then did they end up with such jerks as pharmaceutical companies? It is like a beautiful, caring, intelligent woman ending up in a relationship with an ugly, twisted, malicious monster!

I'm sure there are nice people working in pharmaceutical companies - in my more sceptical moments I think they just wondered in by mistake and couldn't find the exit, but I'm sure they are there, fervently trying to design a new drug to save the lives of those around them. BUT THEN THERE IS THIS:

"We are not in business to save lives, but to make money. Saving lives is not our business." (Director of Roche in Korea when challenged about providing AIDS drugs to those who couldn't afford them) (article)

"Disease mongering" - Pharmaceutical companies undertaking marketing to convince healthy people they are sick and to make people think mild diseases are more serious (BMJ article)

Pharmaceutical companies trying to bribe governments into allowing their products to be used - even if the science says they are no good (Guardian article)

Pharmaceutical companies ghost writing research to make it look unbiased (journal article) or forcing researchers not to mention harmful effects of drugs (article).

Adverse drug reactions killing over 100,000 people a year in the US (Lancet article) with serious side effects of drug affecting many many more.

Basically, when doctors get a large amount of their information about drugs from drug reps; when training or research centers can be under the pay of pharmaceutical companies; when research and clinical trials contain, for many different reasons, bias; when all other alternatives are suppressed; when pharmaceutical products can involve hidden (or overt) harms: where does that leave medicine?

On the plus side however, I really believe that if pharmaceutical companies' money making motives were removed, the doctor's art and the amazing advances of biomedicine that have been made would loose their tarnish and medicine would really shine again.

As always, your comments are welcome.


  1. hm.. so let's get one thing straight (well..if i can pull it off).. was that first paragraph an introduction to let your friends know you've found yourself a beautiful woman? seriously..

    oh yeah!! damn you, vile woman!

  2. Haha! No that was not my intention - its reason was that once upon a time in a long distant English class I teacher told me metaphors are good.

    Hmmmm, though she didn't teach me enough for me to say for definate whether what i used was a metaphor!

    Hey, and why you calling me a vile woman?!

  3. i was being stewart.. what do I know?!


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