Several times in my blog I have defended pharmaceutical companies saying that they understand that animal testing is unreliable and are working on developing predictive tests. I have been criticized for saying this but it is true. The criticism has been just however, not in condemning what I said, but in pointing out that I should have said more about Pharma in general. In my defense, I assume everyone understands that Pharma is big business and that big business does whatever it needs to in order to ensure profits. I do not think I am breaking new ground in proclaiming that big business lies, cheats, steals, and, in some cases, even kills. But for anyone worried that I am somehow being taken in by Pharma, this blog should ease your mind.
Ben Goldacre has a blog on pharmaceutical companies that I encourage you to read. From the website:
Ben is an award-winning writer, broadcaster, and medical doctor who specialises in unpicking dodgy scientific claims made by scaremongering journalists, dodgy government reports, evil pharmaceutical corporations, PR companies and quacks.
He has written the weekly Bad Science column in the Guardian since 2003. It’s archived on this site along with blogposts, columns for the British Medical Journal, and other stuff.
His blog, linked to above, discusses how pharmaceutical companies hide data and just generally lie. He also has a book out (also titled Bad Science) that you might like. I disagree with some minor little points in the book but recommend it especially for anyone serious abut learning how to read the medical literature or read about medical studies in the popular press and separate fact from fiction.
Also this week, an FDA report was published that calls into question the use of Roche’s anticancer drug Avastin, for breast cancer. Studies have shown no improvement from taking the drug as opposed to taking regular chemotherapy alone.
This comes on the heels of Pfizer’s decision last month to withdraw their anticancer drug Mylotarg due to lack of efficacy and safety concerns.
Both of these drugs were touted as life-savers based, in part, on animals tests. Granted, the drugs passed human clinical trials but human clinical trials are the most expensive part of drug development hence Pharma does not want to conduct and pay for longer and broader clinical trials which is the only way society can be assured of what a drug will actually do. Refusing to conduct longer and broader clinical trials, lying about the results from their drugs, and advertising directly to the unknowing consumer is why Pharma is evil.
Make no mistake, Pharma does not care about animals. But they do care about profits and they have finally realized that testing on animals is costing them money by failing to predict human response. THIS is what we have in common with Pharma. I encourage everyone to criticize Pharma for what it does wrong (there is plenty to criticize) but to also realize that if you are an animal activist (or a human rights activist) that, for once, you and Pharma are actually on the same page.