“First, do no harm.” That’s one of the tenets of the Hippocratic oath, an oath that some doctors follow in their professional lives.
Do all people working in health-related professions follow this tenet? Based on the actions of pharmaceutical companies and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it appears that some people might not.
We all know that pharmaceutical companies develop, test, manufacture, and market different kinds of drugs to make money. The United States has a capitalist system, so the companies have a right to do so.
But, are such companies placing their desires to earn profits over the health and welfare of the people who use or might use their products? And, is the FDA enabling this behavior? It appears that both things might be true.
ProPublica reported that people suffered serious side effects and even deaths from certain drugs during test trials, but the FDA still approved the drugs. The FDA approved the drugs quickly, the companies charged considerable amounts for them, and the drugs have the potential to generate significant profits for the companies.
One might question this state of affairs. After all, isn’t it the FDA’s job to protect American consumers from such danger? Things become a little more clear (and perhaps more frustrating) when you realize that this situation might exist because of one simple reason: money.
U.S. federal legislation allows pharmaceutical companies to pay researchers involved in the FDA’s scientific review procedures relating to drugs. In exchange for this money, the FDA agrees to limit the amount of time it takes to conduct such reviews. Pharmaceutical companies also pay physicians and other people related to the drug reviews.
Does such corporate involvement unduly influence the findings? Independent researchers believe that they do. One scholarly review found that “In recent years, a number of studies have shown that clinical drug trials financed by pharmaceutical companies yield favorable results for company products more often than independent trials do. Moreover, pharmaceutical companies have been found to influence drug trials in various ways.”
Such priorities appear to place corporate profit over human health. These priorities could represent ethical problems at best and contribute to dangerous health issues at worst.