Intended for healthcare professionals

Observations Medicine and the media

Don't blame it all on the bogey

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: (Published 14 June 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:1250
  1. Michael Day, freelance journalist, London
  1. miday{at}

    UK and European policymakers and journalists could learn a lot from the way in which their US counterparts are ready to turn the heat on drug regulators, not just on big pharma, writes Michael Day

    The newspapers love a bogeyman. And big pharma fits the bill perfectly. The image of obscenely well paid executives ripping off the NHS and poisoning the masses for the sake of quick profits has united newspapers of all political persuasions in a deep-held suspicion of the companies' method and motives.

    During my stint as the Sunday Telegraph's health correspondent, under the impeccably right-wing and laissez-fare reign of Dominic Lawson, bashing drugs companies always guaranteed you space in the paper. And bear in mind this was a publication that considered global warming something invented by Marxists in order to undermine the oil industry. If, however, you tried to move the argument on a little from “drugs companies are evil” to “the regulators are to blame,” news editors' eyes would glaze over.

    The British press has been quick to report concerns about “disease mongering” by the drugs industry as well as safety fears over Vioxx (rofecoxib), Seroxat (paroxetine), Avandia …

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