Piles of books, journal articles, and newspaper exposes have been written about corrupt relationships between drug companies and physicians. The attacks have taken a toll. Big Pharma’s reputation is somewhere in the gutter with Big Tobacco.
While I see much admirable public-service journalism in exposing wrongdoing in science and medicine, this result strikes me as an overreaction. Pharma and biotech companies often do good, meaningful work. Yet the popular narrative is so strong, with greedy drug companies and bribe-taking physicians cast as villains, hardly anyone sees the good, and hardly anyone challenges the anti-industry line. The industry barely bothers to defend itself. When Lisa Rosenbaum tried to challenge the prevailing anti-industry view in a recent series for the New England Journal of Medicine, a hailstorm of criticism came her way.