Letters Acceptable face of big pharma?

Only time will tell whether big pharma has an acceptable face

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f1952 (Published 02 April 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f1952
  1. Omar Jundi, anaesthetics trainee1
  1. 1Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust, St James’s University Hospital, Leeds LS9 7TF, UK
  1. omar.jundi{at}leedsth.nhs.uk

The timing of your profile on Andrew Witty is somewhat bemusing.1

Certainly, GSK’s recent moves have been exciting. Simply signing up to the alltrials.net campaign is a huge step for such a large drug company, and we can only hope that this will shame other companies into taking similar action.

But your article misses two important points. Firstly, we have seen this all before. Time and again drug companies have promised to publish data, only to drag their feet. This is true of Roche, and it was true of GSK in the rosiglitazone scandal, which overlaps with Witty’s tenure as executive officer.2 3

Secondly, we should not look to a member of industry to prevent the transgressions of the past occurring again. Stopping big pharma from partaking in fraudulent activities, hiding trial data, or promoting drugs inappropriately must be the role of regulators and the legal system, not the whims of whoever happens to be in charge at a given time.

If we ever do see real action—all of GSK’s clinical trial data being available in an accessible analysable format—then it might be appropriate to portray an industry leader on the front cover of your journal as a symbol of hope for our profession.

Until that day, we should withhold our praise.


Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f1952


  • Competing interests: OJ is a member of Healthy Skepticism UK.


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