So Who Do You Believe? Pharmaceutical Ethics

Posted on 01. Jan, 2007 by in medical ethics

Dr Karen asked:

There are various reasons why many people are skeptical about taking prescribed medications. Some believe that there are just too many chemicals in them and would prefer a more natural approach. Others feel that prescribed drugs are being used too freely. What many people have not considered though is the fact that they may be being deceived regarding the quality of the prescribed medications.

We all assume that medical research is documented and properly researched at least when it comes to inventing new drugs and treatments. After all, we have strict government regulations in place to ensure our safety. It appears that we may not be as protected as we may assume.

It has been found that a particular pharmaceutical company has been using employees to ghostwrite research material and then having the appropriate medical personnel attach their names to it thus making it appear as valid research information. Yikes! What makes it even more disturbing is that it doesn’t seem to be an isolated incident. Apparently, there are numerous claims that ghostwriting medical research is a common practice within the pharmaceutical industry.

Not only can this practice be viewed as alarming and dangerous but using another’s research is also unethical. Coming to basic facts, it is downright scary because it involves public health and safety. So far, little news press has been given to the potentially grave consequences of these practices, but the US Food and Drug Administration are now in the process of determining whether to allow the circulation of peer-reviewed journal articles to be used as guides. While in the past physicians have used these articles to determine drugs of choice for a particular patient, the FDA will look into the efficacy and safety of this practice to decide its future worth.

What needs to be taken into consideration is how much attention does the professional signing this research really give to its content? He or she could be recommending a medication that will reach the people at large and could prove not only mildly detrimental but also downright dangerous. After all, professionals are needed in medical and pharmaceutical research to prevent such an eventuality. If their research means so little, then why not dispense with it and let the ghostwriters do the research and clear the drug for open market? All of the current indicators are pointing in this direction right now. No claims can or should be made that this is happening in every pharmaceutical company as they each have individual moral and ethical standards. We the public can only hope that the companies making such prescribed drugs fall into the “good moral” category.

One good aspect is that at least this deception is being brought to light. Other pharmaceutical companies that are walking a fine line on this issue may think twice about the consequences of their actions. For all of our sakes let’s hope that they do.

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