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Book and Media Reviews
April 26, 2006

Drug Company Ethics

Author Affiliations

Book and Media Reviews Section Editor: Harriet S. Meyer, MD, Contributing Editor, JAMA.

JAMA. 2006;295(16):1947-1952. doi:10.1001/jama.295.16.1948

The pharmaceutical industry has had a prized business role in society because of its ability to provide tools for treating illness and alleviating human suffering. However, in recent years public perception of pharmaceutical companies has become increasingly negative.

While the title Ethics and the Pharmaceutical Industry may suggest a paradox, Michael Santoro and Thomas Gorrie have compiled a series of essays that provide a fair, balanced, and insightful examination of an increasingly troubled relationship between the pharmaceutical industry and society. They highlight that much of the challenge in this relationship is driven by an imperfect alignment of objectives. Society wants affordable, effective, and safe drugs. Businesses want to maximize profits. The free market brings these two sets of objectives together while providing powerful incentives for creativity and innovation but also for businesses to restrict access to products and distort medical priorities. Michael Santoro, an associate professor at Rutgers Business School, and Thomas Gorrie, a corporate vice president at Johnson & Johnson, guide an informative, interesting, and at times provocative discussion that systematically examines the important moral, scientific, and public policy issues challenging the relationship between the pharmaceutical industry and society.

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