There is increasing concern about the relationship between medicine and the pharmaceutical industry. In July the BMJ devoted a themed issue to this, and critical discussions have featured in other leading medical journals recently. The industry has grown in profitability and influence over the past 20 years, and is now second only to armaments in the US economy (Public Citizen, 2002). Its influence is enhanced through its control of research, and it employs sophisticated and wide-reaching marketing strategies. This level of influence is concerning because the private investment necessary to enable drug development demands ever more vigorous struggles to maintain and expand market presence. In other words, commercial rather than clinical or scientific demands are becoming the dominant driving force for ‘innovation’. This leads to the popularity of developing cheaper ‘me too’ options, and the promotion of new ‘disease concepts' to allow the re-badging of old products to expand markets without major development costs.
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