Last year, the drug industry in the US spent $9 billion on behind-the-scenes-marketing to doctors and $2.8 billion direct to consumers.
Pharmaceuticals sales are being driven by helpful, yet spurious educational "workshops" developed by advertising agencies and provided to doctors in support of newly approved drugs. Under current guidelines, the FDA will not allow advertising of any drug until it is approved and once approved it can then only be advertised for the purpose it is purported to help. Once on the market though, any doctor can legally supply any drug for any purpose as they see fit. Ad agenceies are currently "educating" doctors on the other benefits drugs can provide, enrolling other doctors for money to support their "extended" conclusions. Clearly physicians need education, clearly pharmaceutical companies and their ad agencies want to achieve their total available profit. So what should be done?
As biomedical technology progresses there will need to be an independent medical information agency separate from the FDA to provide oversight of the clinical trial process and post education regime that both doctors and their patients can look to for unbiased information. Other likely functions of this agency could include running the Human Biosimulation Project which would collect and cross correlate all information coming from the Human Genome Project, the Human Proteome Project, the Human Brain Project, etc.
Each new technological wave eventually oversteps the regulatory capacity of historically legislated entities. The Interstate Commerce Commission was developed late in the railroadization wave as a result of mounting public indignation in the 1880s against railroad malpractices and abuses. The FDA was created in 1937 after 107 people died as a result of untested sulfanilamide elixir, which later was determined to contain the poison ethyl glycol. The neurotechnology wave will be no different. This time we should use history as our guide and begin discussing now what an agency like this might look like.
10:21:37 AM comment