Reviews PERSONAL VIEWS

In praise of the “devil”

BMJ 2003; 326 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.326.7400.1220 (Published 29 May 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:1220
  1. Silvia Bonaccorso,
  2. Richard Smith, editor
  1. VP Marketing and Medical Services, Worldwide Human Health Marketing, Merck and Co Inc, Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, USA
  2. BMJ

    When a pharmaceutical company misbehaves the whole industry instantly becomes the culprit. In contrast, when a doctor misbehaves the whole of medicine isn't condemned. For some reason the pharmaceutical industry is seen as the devil, while many others in health care are seen as saintly. This prejudice against the industry is unfair. Those who work in it resent being seen as part of the problem rather than part of the solution, particularly since the industry either developed or manufactured virtually every new drug to have emerged in the past century. Where would health care be without antibiotics, antihypertensives, immunosuppressants, antidepressants, anaesthetic drugs, lipid lowering drugs, and hundreds of others?

    One of us (SB) has worked in the industry for many years and so has a partial view, but it was experiences as a physician in Buenos Aires in the 1970s that illustrated the value of the serious research oriented companies. The companies educated doctors when postgraduate training was often unavailable. That's …

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