SA, 16:23 #52512 – ” there are two sides to big pharma, the corporate side which has to make big money by any means, and the scientific side which in many cases is essential to modern medicine.”
SA, have you read Goldacre’s second book, Bad Pharma?
Intellectually, it is simply terrifying. We literally do not know what many of the drugs do! I’m not exaggerating, especially about newer drugs.
It is questionable to what extent the research of the pharmaceutical companies can be called “science”. It’s definitely research, but an essential aspect of science is that it be open to scrutiny. Goldacre goes through scores, if not hundreds of ways that Big, Bad Pharma hide the results of their research, releasing only those parts that show their products in a good light. The word ‘occult’ simply means ‘hidden’, and much if not most drug development and testing would be better described as occult rather than science.
Non-Disclosure Agreements figure prominently in this. The scientists work under conditions of what I call meta-secrecy, in that the non-disclosure agreements in their contracts forbid them revealing the non-disclosure agreement itself. This should be a crime, it is damaging to the scientists’ mental health. Compare with employees under the UK Official Secrets Act; if interviewed and asked a question to which the answer is restricted, they can at least say “I’m sorry, I can’t answer that as I am bound by the Official Secrets Act”. Not so for the hapless scientists working under most NDAs; they have to obfuscate and fudge to avoid revealing the NDA itself. This is an intolerable strain for anyone; they are effectively forced to anticipate problematic questions such that they never stray towards it being asked in the first place.
Then there is the complicity of the industry regulators; in all of the US, UK and EU, the “revolving door” between industry and regulators leads to industry capture of the regulators, and the rules favour the industry in the first place.
Then we have unethical practices, such as tiny subsidiary companies scattered all across the Third World testing experimental drugs on impoverished people because there are hardly any regulations or enforcement there.
A whole 400+ pages of it; I could go on and on. It truly is a horror show.