Tomorrow's Cures Today? How to Reform the Health Research System

By Donald R. Forsdyke | Go to book overview

13

Partnership with the Drug Industry?

An enemy of the people

In Chapter One I may have challenged your credulity somewhat by stating that in his own time there probably existed anatomists of even greater potential genius than Leonardo de Vinci; however, they were not able to market their skills, and so were never heard of. If you did not close the book with a slam at that point, then you may still be with me. I would like to have begun this chapter with a statement appearing equally outrageous. Fearing a similar response, I must first prepare the ground.

In a 1882 Ibsen play (1) a medical officer believes he will receive public acclaim for discovering that the water-supply is being polluted by an upstream factory. However, various vested interests intervene and the poor man ends up being branded “An Enemy of the People” (the name of the play).

In more recent times (circa 1995) the heads of several major tobacco companies appeared before a US Senate committee. Each, in turn, firmly stated his belief that there is no linkage between smoking and lung cancer. In the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary (later conceded), the companies claimed that they should be allowed freely to advertize their products, and that not being permitted to do so violated their right to free speech. I give these examples to make

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