Calling the pharmaceutical industry to account

November 21, 2002

The final article in THE LANCET's series about the relationship between the pharmaceutical industry and medicine is published this week--the author concluding that there is still some way to go before industry can truly be deemed accountable to global public-health needs.

Graham Dukes, an independent medico-legal author attached to the University of Oslo, Norway, comments how the pharmaceutical industry is accountable on the one hand to its shareholders and on the other to the community at large. However he argues that industry has developed practices--including the excessive pricing of drugs, an indifference to the needs of the developing world, an imbalance between true innovation and promotional activity, interference with clinical investigations, and efforts to mould medical thinking and priorities as a means to enlarge the market--that do not provide accountability to the global community.

Graham Dukes comments: "The pharmaceutical industry must now be called to order. The industry has shown itself to be sufficiently resilient to adapt to change if society insists on it. However, to influence multinational corporations effectively, the efforts of governments will have to be complemented by others, notably the many voluntary organisations that have shown they can effectively represent society's public-health interests."
-end-
Contact: Dr M N Graham Dukes, Trosterudveien 19, 0778 Oslo, Norway;
T) 47-2249-4058;
F) 47-2292-1135;
E) mngdukes@online.no

Lancet

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