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Views & Reviews REVIEW OF THE WEEK

Inside big pharma's box of tricks

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: (Published 25 January 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:209
  1. Joe Collier, professor of medicines policy and consultant in clinical pharmacology, St George's Hospital and Medical School, London (

    Joe Collier is impressed by a BBC documentary about the marketing of paroxetine

    The list of examples of big pharma's trickery seems endless (even though many of those employed in it are of the highest calibre and of unquestionable integrity). Indeed, it is as though, in the marketing arm of some drug companies, mischief is institutionalised. But much of this is recognised, and the adverse effects of drug companies could be countered by alert regulators, scientists, prescribers, and the medical press. All too often, however, these checks fail. There is even evidence that, in some cases, these counter-forces collude with industry and so compound its indiscretions. It is this area, the interplay between industry and some of the would-be counter-forces, that Panorama's “The Secrets of Seroxat” seeks to tackle.

    Panorama has been investigating drug companies' behaviour for years, and this inquiry is its third involving selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and in particular Seroxat (paroxetine), since 2002. It deals primarily with GlaxoSmithKline's history as it relates to the development of paroxetine …

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