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Books, Journals, New Media
June 22/29, 2005

Medicine, Business

Author Affiliations

Books, Journals, New Media Section Editor: Harriet S. Meyer, MD, Contributing Editor, JAMA; Journal Review Editor: Brenda L. Seago, MLS, MA, Medical College of Virginia Campus, Virginia Commonwealth University.

JAMA. 2005;293(24):3107-3112. doi:10.1001/jama.293.24.3107

While still highly profitable, the pharmaceutical industry (Pharma) has had a tough couple of years. Stock prices have slipped, the public seems more skeptical of Pharma’s motives, exposés of corporate decisions that seem routinely to place profit above public health have become regular news media fare, and more and more voices from academia are questioning the relationship between the industry and health care professionals.

This increase in skepticism about Pharma has developed despite the industry’s army of 88 000 detailers and its physician-targeted marketing budget of $14 billion—more than $30 000 for every practicing physician in the United States (not to mention several billion more for direct-to-consumer advertising)—all part of the attempt to increase the public’s already bloated spending on products that are often relatively ineffective, rarely better than cheaper alternatives, and not infrequently dangerous—at least to individual users, and certainly if overused. This may make for good business, but it’s not a wise prescription for good medical practice or good public policy.

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