I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty fed up with all the bad news about the pharmaceutical industry. Everyone wants to beat up on “Big Pharma.” One-sided hatchet jobs by those bright lights of truth, Big Media. Endless lawsuits (many of dubious merit) by those paragons of virtue, Big Tort Bar. Pompous bloviations by our defenders (and practictioners!) of all that is good and pure, Big Government.
Let’s grant that there is plenty of room for criticism. Let us also grant that in any large-scale human endeavor (Big [fill-in-the-blank]), there will be corruption, greed, lying, and sundry other forms of wrongdoing. The pharmaceutical industry has no corner on the market for either virtue or vice.
One would think, however, from press coverage, that the pharmaceutical industry is nothing more than a leech on society, sucking away blood-money and giving nothing in return. Of course, bad news sells – who wants to hear about how some relatively obscure individual had her life extended, or his well-being enhanced, when there is a multi-million dollar scandal to investigate??
I am no shill for this or any other industry. I have worked as a supplier to many pharmaceutical companies and am well aware of the deficiencies and imperfections. Cynicism is easy. Until your life is changed – remarkably transformed, in my case – by a drug from one of these vilified corporations.
The goal of the pharmaceutical industry – whatever the individual failings to the contrary – is to save, extend, and enhance human life (I should include animal life as well, for those companies serving Animal Health). And that is happening every day. Except those stories rarely get out. Not enough scandal, I guess, when my children get to spend precious time with their grandmother, whose influence in their lives may well have been absent apart from the drugs that keep dangerous conditions under control.
It’s a losing battle to try to counter negative public perception by blathering on about the cost of R&D. The only real counter to the bad news is the good news – the stories of people being helped. I think we can all use a dose of encouragement that what we do really matters, in the lives of real people.
I’m tempted to launch a simple website with the sole purpose of collecting these good news stories…