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.
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.
Wilkes MS, Hoffman JR. Medicine, Business. JAMA. 2005;293(24):3107–3112. doi:10.1001/jama.293.24.3107