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Mens Sana Monogr. 2005 Nov;3(2):19-51. doi: 10.4103/0973-1229.27881.

Medicine as a corporate enterprise, patient welfare centered profession, or patient welfare centered professional enterprise?

Abstract

There is an alarming trend in the field of medicine, whose portents are ominous but do not seem to shake the complacency and merry making doing the rounds.The wants of the medical man have multiplied beyond imagination. The cost of organizing conferences is no longer possible on delegate fees. The bottom-line is: Crores for a Conference Millions for a Mid-Term. However, the problem is that sponsors keep a discreet but careful tab on docs. All in all, costs of medicines escalate, and quality medical care becomes a luxury. The whole brunt of this movement is borne by the patient.Companies like GlaxoSmithKline, Bayer, Pfizer, Bristol-Myers Squibb, AstraZeneca, Schering-Plough, Abbott Labs, TAP Pharmaceuticals, Wyeth and Merck have paid millions of dollars each as compensation in the last few years. The financial condition of many pharmaceutical majors is not buoyant either. Price deflation, increased Rand D spending, and litigation costs are the main reasons. In the future, the messy lawsuits situation would no longer be restricted to industry. It would involve academia and practising doctors as well. Indian pharma industry captains, who were busy raking in the profits at present, would also come under the scanner. If nothing else, it means industry and docs will have to sit down and do some soul searching.Both short and long-term measures will have to be put into place. Short-term measures involve reduction in i) pharma spending over junkets and trinkets; ii) hype over 'me too' drugs; iii) manipulation of drug trials; iv) getting pliant researchers into drug trials; iv) manipulation of Journal Editors to publish positive findings about their drug trials and launches; v) and for Indian Pharma, to conduct their own unbiased clinical trial of the latest drug projected as a blockbuster in the West, before pumping in their millions.The long-term measures are related to the way biomedical advance is to be charted. We have to decide whether medicine is to become a corporate enterprise or remain a patient welfare centered profession. A third approach involves an eclectic resolution of the two. Such amount of patient welfare as also ensures profit, and such amount of profit as also ensures patient welfare is to be forwarded. For, profit, without patient welfare, is blind. And patient welfare, without profit, is lame. According to this approach, medicine becomes a patient welfare centered professional enterprise.The various ramifications of each of these approaches are discussed in this monograph.

KEYWORDS:

Increased R and D Spending; Law Suits Against Industry; Litigation Costs; Medicine As A Corporate Enterprise; Medicine As A Patient Welfare Centered Professional Enterprise; Medicine as a Patient Welfare Centered Profession; Price Deflation; Professional or Business Ethics in Medicine; ‘Me Too’ Drugs

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