Influence of the Pharmaceutical Industry on Research and Clinical Care
Since the beginning of the twenty-first century, bioethicists have begun to pay serious attention to the influence that the pharmaceutical and medical-device industries exert over both medical research and patient care. Most authorities agree that the main ethical concern, if there is one, is conflict of interest. According to one viewpoint, the main goal of research is discovery of scientific truths for the benefit of the health of future patients, and the main goal of clinical care is the health benefit of the patient receiving attention. While it is possible that the drug and device industries can maximize their profits while also serving these goals, in too many cases there is a conflict between the goal of patient benefit and the goal of profit maximization. In such cases, influence exerted by industry may be deleterious to patients. To the extent that health care professionalism is defined as giving highest priority to the interests of patients, then industry influence becomes a threat to professionalism.