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Big Pharma + academic medicine « Previous | |Next »
July 15, 2010

Marcia Angellm, the former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, has an article in the Boston Review on BIg Pharma and academic medicine. It is part of a series of articles or a forum run by the Boston Review on the impact of the pharmaceutical industry on medical training and science, and the responsibilities of physicians.

Angellm's argument is that financial conflicts of interest are a serious impediment to good medical research, education, and clinical practice. She says:

Over the past two or three decades....academia and industry have become deeply intertwined. Moreover, these links, though quite recent, are now largely accepted as inherent in medical research. So what’s wrong with that? Isn’t this just the sort of collaboration that leads to the development of important new medical treatments?

She answers thus:
Increasingly, industry is setting the research agenda in academic centers, and that agenda has more to do with industry’s mission than with the mission of the academy. Researchers and their institutions are focusing too much on targeted, applied research, mainly drug development, and not enough on non-targeted, basic research into the causes, mechanisms, and prevention of disease.

In addition to distorting the research agenda, there is overwhelming evidence that drug-company influence biases the research itself, primarily suppression of negative results.

She adds that one consequence is that doctors and their patients come to believe that for every ailment and discontent there is a drug, even when changes in lifestyle would be more effective. Big Pharma hires physicians to sell diseases.

No doubt ageing will be sold as a disease/illness state and we will be bombarded by anti-ageing messages with supplements and hormone treatments by anti-ageing medicine that is fast becoming big business. Anti-ageing medicine is dismissed as quackery by orthodox medicine--eg., on the use of growth hormone therapies in anti-aging medicine--- but orthodox medicine does turn a blind eye to its own corruption by Big Pharma, or the way that orthodox medicine is a business.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 11:07 AM |