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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 11838

Warning: This library includes all items relevant to health product marketing that we are aware of regardless of quality. Often we do not agree with all or part of the contents.


Publication type: Journal Article

Light D.
Misleading Congress about Drug Development
Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law 2007 Oct; 32:(5):895-913


A review of:
Congressional Budget Office. Research and Development in the Pharmaceutical Industry-A CBO Study. Washington, DC: U.S. Congress, 2006.

Full text:

Members of the U.S. Congress, state legislatures, and European and Canadian parliaments depend on the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) as an internationally respected body to provide rigorous, objective, and critical assessments of important policy issues. The purpose of the CBO is to establish authoritative figures and facts for bills and other actions. Thus one is surprised to find that the C130 study into pharmaceutical research and development (R&D) uses widely criticized figures without qualification and fails to review objectively the range of evidence about pharmaceutical R&D or its quality. It relies almost entirely on figures from studies by researchers supported by the industry, without assessing for nonspecialists how reliable they are. As a result; the CBO uncritically reiterates the industry-endorsed “facts” and the story of huge R&D costs,
modest and precarious profits, and prices that represent good value. This new study of pharmaceutical R&D therefore comes close to reading as if it were written by the industry for its lobbying efforts…


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Far too large a section of the treatment of disease is to-day controlled by the big manufacturing pharmacists, who have enslaved us in a plausible pseudo-science...
The blind faith which some men have in medicines illustrates too often the greatest of all human capacities - the capacity for self deception...
Some one will say, Is this all your science has to tell us? Is this the outcome of decades of good clinical work, of patient study of the disease, of anxious trial in such good faith of so many drugs? Give us back the childlike trust of the fathers in antimony and in the lancet rather than this cold nihilism. Not at all! Let us accept the truth, however unpleasant it may be, and with the death rate staring us in the face, let us not be deceived with vain fancies...
we need a stern, iconoclastic spirit which leads, not to nihilism, but to an active skepticism - not the passive skepticism, born of despair, but the active skepticism born of a knowledge that recognizes its limitations and knows full well that only in this attitude of mind can true progress be made.
- William Osler 1909