Dying for Drugs

BMJ 2003; 326 doi: (Published 03 May 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:990
  1. Jeff Aronson, clinical pharmacologist (
  1. Oxford

    Channel 4, 27 April at 8 30 pm

    Rating: Embedded ImageEmbedded ImageEmbedded Image

    “They're not just pushing pills—they're pushing life or death.” Thus said Drummond Rennie, the editor of JAMA, during True Vision's documentary about Big Pharma (note the Orwellian echo). True Vision specialises in documentaries about social issues. Their work includes The Dying Rooms and Return to the Dying Rooms (about China's state orphanages) and Schoolgirl Killer (about bride abduction in Ethiopia). In Dying for Drugs their premise was that some pharmaceutical company activities in developing countries can cause deaths. Four stories made the point.

    The first was about an outbreak of meningitis in Kano, Nigeria, in 1996. About 150 000 people were infected, and 15 000 died. Pfizer arrived several weeks after Médecins Sans Frontières and performed a trial of trovafloxacin, a new quinolone antibiotic. They are accused of not having obtained prior approval from an ethics committee nor …

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