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I am a practicing physician involved with clinical research and treatment of AIDs and human immunodeficiency virus disease. In my 24 years of experience, I cannot overstate my gratitude to clinical researchers and the pharmaceutical industries for their accomplishments. As I often reflect, had great opportunity for profit not motivated the owners of these companies, these drugs may never have been developed. Furthermore, had the owners of these companies not paid the researchers adequately, they may not have been able to retain and engage the type of people who have led to these wonderful breakthroughs and advances in drug developments.
Therefore, I have watched with shock the evolving witch hunt against pharmaceutical companies. Just as there are great physicians and poor physicians, good politicians and bad politicians, I am sure there are good drug sales managers and bad drug sales managers, good drug CEOs and bad drug CEOs.
The tenor of recent guidelines in publications is that pharmaceutical companies are not to be trusted in general. This is not fair. We judge the work of our colleagues on the basis of what they do and what they accomplish, not on the basis of who pays them or how they are paid. I hold the same standards for pharmaceutical companies. Whether I like or dislike Amgen, whether I like or dislike the National Institutes of Health, I judge the work of people from those institutions on the basis of its quality and honesty, not by who writes the paycheck of the investigators. Also, I hold them to the same standards.
It is time for all of us to realize that most of us need to earn a living. Whether we earn our living from the government, from the corporation that runs Harvard University, or from the corporation that runs Johnson & Johnson, we must earn our money, and we want to be paid well. This is not inappropriate; it is appropriate. We should not simply assume that because someone is paid either more or less or by one person or another person, that the quality of his or her work or his or her integrity is either better or worse.
I hope that Mayo Clinic Proceedings will help us focus on the quality and innovation of medical research, rather than quibbling about the authors' employers. I pray that the pharmaceutical advances of the past 40 years are a harbinger of future progress, and not the golden age forever gone.