Richard Smith: Is The Pharmaceutical Industry Like The Mafia?

Richard Smith | BMJ Group | September 10, 2013

The piece that follows is my foreword to a new and fascinating book by Peter  Gøtzsche, the head of the Nordic Cochrane Centre, entitled Deadly Medicines and Organised Crime: How Big Pharma Has Corrupted Healthcare. I hope that this piece might prompt you to read the book. I was not paid for my foreword and will not receive any payment from the book.

There must be plenty of people who shudder when they hear that Peter  Gøtzsche will be speaking at a meeting or see his name  on the contents list of a journal. He is like the young boy who not only could see that the emperor had no clothes but also said so. Most of us either cannot see that the emperor is naked or will not announce it when we see his nakedness, which is why we badly need people like Peter. He is not a compromiser or a dissembler, and he has a taste for strong, blunt language and colourful metaphors.  Some, perhaps many, people might be put off reading this book by Peter’s insistence on comparing the pharmaceutical industry to the mob, but those who turn away from the book will miss an important opportunity to understand something important about the world—and to be shocked.