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Pharmaceutical Industry Needs a Dose of Ethics

May 04, 2003

"Health-Commerce Collision" (editorial, April 28) is right on the money, both literally and figuratively. In 42 years of family medical practice, I've read about, observed and experienced many incidents of unethical behavior on the part of our pharmaceutical industry. As The Times indicates, "Profit is a powerful incentive and has led to breakthroughs," but it has also led to the suppression of studies that, if published, could reduce marketability and profits.

In the past, we called the pharmaceutical-producing industry the "ethical drug industry." The longer I practice medicine, the more I realize how unethical this industry has become. I've always believed that patients' needs are primary, though I recognized that the providers and medicine producers must be allowed to make a profit.

To make things worse, the financial muscle of the producers of medicines and supplements has made it possible for them to convince federal legislators to limit the regulatory powers of the Food and Drug Administration, which was created to protect the public, not to enrich these industries.

Melvin H. Kirschner MD

Van Nuys

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