If you’ve read my posts and tweets over the years about the pharmaceutical industry, you could easily come to the conclusion – based on which ones you’ve read – that I’m either pro-pharma, anti-pharma, or deeply conflicted.
In case you’re wondering, the answer is Yes. All of the Above.
I emphatically do NOT sympathize with those who wish to portray the pharmaceutical industry as some sort of evil empire, a hopelessly degraded industry that only exists to rape the public, and a convenient whipping boy for opportunistic politicians and ignorant snake-oil promoters. I also strongly disagree with those who short-sightedly wish to ban pharmaceutical sales – as if this industry does not have a right to create and promote its products in the marketplace. If you ban pharma from “selling”, what is the next business you’ll put on the chopping block as unworthy of free-speech constitutional rights? Software companies (huge profit margins, by the way, and often defective products)? Sports teams (talk about inflated prices and corruption!) How about we start with tort lawyers? Hmmmm – OK, better stop there…
On the other hand, I seek to practice a very clear code of personal and professional ethics, and it grieves me whenever I see (in ANY industry, but I happen to have been involved in pharma/medical devices for 23 years) mindless greed, manipulation, lying, lack of transparency, and wasteful spending. There’s plenty of that in Pharma, and I despise it. But remember – there’s plenty of that EVERYWHERE (yes, including among politicians…). If you’re a pharma-hater, just step back and recognize that this is a human problem, not a pharma-specific issue.
Finally, for all the flaws and problems with the industry, there are life-changing products that come out of it. A smile comes to my face every time I think of the awesome efficacy of the cancer drug Gleevec. My children have an opportunity to know their grandmother (my mother) because of drugs that control her high blood pressure. And my own life has been transformed by use of an anti-depressant. So, if you wonder why at times I praise, excoriate, question, and seek to serve this industry, now you know – it’s because the pharma business is a flawed human endeavor JUST LIKE EVERY OTHER, and I’m a flawed human being just like every other. For the record…
Jane Chin says
I prefer to see you as an enlightened human being capable of accepting what appears to be contradictory realities in the same time-space. The wiser I get, the less black-or-white my mindset becomes.