Monday, April 20, 2009

Pharma and the Dark Side?

I don't work in pharma, but I know many people who do. Some academic clinicians like to joke and say that they've moved over to the "dark side." Why do they say this? Because they've usually moved from a relatively low salary to a much higher salary.

I personally don't like the implications associated with a generalization like the "dark side." When I think about the "Dark Side" in the movie Star Wars, I think about how Anakin Skywalker was tempted to move over to the Dark Side. What tempted him? Greed? No. Power? Yes. Filled with anger and hatred, Anakin wanted power and control. To me, that's the Dark Side. So, if you're an angry physician full of hate and you want to gain power and control by going to pharma, then you've gone to the Dark Side.

Like many corporations, there are good and bad things about working in the pharma industry. Is the pharmaceutical business world so corrupt that we can't trust that some people are operating with sound moral principles? We often forget that we'd have no life-saving drugs and cancer therapeutics if pharma companies didn't exist. This doesn't justify greed, but it does show that there is a need for drug companies to perform research and development. We need to find a way to reduce drug development costs in order to reduce overall drug prices.

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