Academia must stand up to drug companies

By Richard A. Lippin, M.D.
Philadelphia Inquirer, Letters, Oct. 23, 2015

David Sell tried his best to write a balanced article in Sunday's Inquirer ("When pharma, academia join forces"), but he wrote about a scandal of monumental proportions in American medicine that has grown worse, especially over the past two decades.

In the story, the research director for the Hastings Center, an independent bioethics research institute, said that disclosure of relationships between academic researchers and drug companies is important, but I would say it has come about only under pressure. And not giving companies veto rights for the publication of results is key, the Hastings director said, though I would say that relationship is not improving in most cases.

An overlooked elephant in the room is the outrageous, escalating cost of new medicines - especially for unique diseases - which only the wealthy can afford and the poor sometimes don't receive. America stands alone among peer nations in failing to provide basic health care, including affordable medications, to all its citizens.

Philadelphia, with its concentration of academic medical research centers and area drug companies, should be ashamed of perpetuating this broken, unethical, and immoral system through unsavory economic alliances. We especially need academic leaders to stand up for what is morally right.

Dr. Richard A. Lippin resides in Southampton.