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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 12152

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

Lexchin J.
The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: secrecy in the pharmaceutical arena.
Med Law 2007 Sep; 26:(3):417-30


Secrecy in the pharmaceutical arena has taken on more importance in the recent past as the pharmaceutical industry has assumed greater prominence in the funding of clinical research and has also become a funder of the agencies that are charged with regulating it. Governments have adopted a neo-liberal agenda that prioritizes private profit over public health and are therefore willing to let industry set the research agenda. As a result, secrecy, to protect intellectual property rights, is a major feature of clinical research. Secrecy also leads to biases in the published literature that conceal significant safety problems. Because regulators are now partially dependent on the pharmaceutical industry for their existence regulators are unwilling to challenge industry. By treating data on efficacy and safety as commercially confidential information they effectively collude with industry in denying health professionals and the public access to essential information to be able to use drugs appropriately.

Biomedical Research Canada Confidentiality* Drug Industry* Drug Toxicity Ownership Publishing


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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