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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 20260

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 DW, Lexchin JR
Pharmaceutical research and development: what do we get for all that money?
BMJ 2012 Aug 11;
http://www.bmj.com/content/345/bmj.e4348


Abstract:

Since the early 2000s, industry leaders, observers, and policy makers have been declaring that there is an innovation crisis in pharmaceutical research.

A 2002 front page investigation by the Wall Street Journal reported, “In laboratories around the world, scientists on the hunt for new drugs are coming up dry . . . The $400 billion a year drug industry is suddenly in serious trouble.”1

Four years later, a US Government Accounting Office assessment of new drug development reported that “over the past several years it has become widely recognized throughout the industry that the productivity of its research and development expenditures has been declining.”2

In 2010, Morgan Stanley reported that top executives felt they could not “beat the innovation crisis” and proposed that the best way to deal with “a decade of dismal R&D returns” was for the major companies to stop trying to discover new drugs and buy into discoveries by others.3

Such reports continue and raise the spectre that the pipeline for new drugs will soon run dry and we will be left to the mercies of whatever ills befall us.4

 

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Cases of wilful misrepresentation are a rarity in medical advertising. For every advertisement in which nonexistent doctors are called on to testify or deliberately irrelevant references are bunched up in [fine print], you will find a hundred or more whose greatest offenses are unquestioning enthusiasm and the skill to communicate it.

The best defence the physician can muster against this kind of advertising is a healthy skepticism and a willingness, not always apparent in the past, to do his homework. He must cultivate a flair for spotting the logical loophole, the invalid clinical trial, the unreliable or meaningless testimonial, the unneeded improvement and the unlikely claim. Above all, he must develop greater resistance to the lure of the fashionable and the new.
- Pierre R. Garai (advertising executive) 1963