Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 305–309 | Cite as

Big pharma: a story of success in a market economy

Practical Viewpoint


In this paper, I will argue that the current discussions about regulating certain activities concerning the pharmaceutical industry do miss a crucial point. The Pharmaceutical Industry is a story of success, providing a wealth of new discoveries and applied technologies, which have greatly enhanced our lives. The current call for strict regulation of the Pharmaceutical Industry makes the unwarranted assumption that such regulation will not disturb the mechanisms of the Industry’s success. I will claim that a centralised regulation profoundly transforms the direction of travel. I will also claim that the role of the executive in bypassing regulations creates a parallel industry of subsidiary regulations to counter such bypassing. The predictable consequence is the increasing role of central regulatory control and the progressive slowing down of the success of the Pharmaceutical Industry leading towards an undesirable mediocrity. The conclusion I wish to advance is that our choices are not limited to ‘a wild open market’ and ‘a regulated open market’ scenarios, and the strategy to avoid a robustly regulated but mediocre Pharmaceutical Industry may involve ‘non-open market scenarios’ which have so far been absent from the alternatives discussed.


Bureaucracy Central planning Executive role/motivation/behaviour Ideology Pharmaceutical industry Political economy of health Regulation 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.LiberCare LtdNotts, MansfieldUK
  2. 2.The Corner SurgeryLondonUK

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