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Book and Media Reviews
April 26, 2006

Drug Company Ethics

JAMA. 2006;295(16):1947-1952. doi:10.1001/jama.295.16.1949

The preface of this book begins, “Any sector of society has both its written and unwritten rules of behaviour, which develop and change as time goes by.” Graham Dukes, professor emeritus of Drug Policy Studies at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, builds the entire book around that sentence. He traces the origins of laws, regulations, and codes of behavior developed around the world to guide the pharmaceutical industry.

In this regard, the book is very ambitious. It describes the history of the pharmaceutical industry and the definition of standards for that industry. It goes on to document the acceptance and implementation of those standards in areas such as safety, demonstration of efficacy, and ensuring quality. It describes the behavior of the industry in terms of pricing and profits and its role in innovation and marketing. It covers the industry in both the developed and developing world and even deals with issues such as animal studies and the role of generic manufacturers.