Author(s): Marcia Angell
The signing of the Free Trade Agreement with the USA has left many Australians feeling apprehensive about the future of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and the impact this will have upon the price and availability of reliable prescription drugs. For a glimpse of what the future might hold, many are looking to the current state of the industry in America. There, the public have struggled to keep up with spiralling drug prices while the big drug companies have grown rich and gained unhealthy levels of influence over the government agencies that regulate them, as well as the medical professionals who administer their products.
During her two decades at The New England Journal of Medicine, Dr Angell gained extraordinary insight into the truth about the drug companies. She watched them stray from their original mission of developing useful drugs and instead become vast and highly profitable marketing machines with sometimes dubious products.
By focusing on hugely successful drugs, Dr Angell demonstrates exactly how new products are brought to market, and argues that the pharmaceutical industry needs to be saved from itself. She proposes a program of vital reforms, which include restoring impartiality to clinical research and severing the ties between drug companies and medical education.