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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Albert I Wertheimer, BS, MBA, PhD (Temple University School of Pharmacy)
Description: This book looks at current pharmaceutical industry marketing practices from the perspective of ethical standards. It finds that marketing practices create serious risks and it provides arguments as to why these risks should be reduced or eliminated. The author hopes that readers will demand changes/improvements in the ethical standards employed in pharmaceutical marketing.
Purpose: The book makes the case that the pharmaceutical industry gets low grades for the ethical standards used in its pharmaceutical marketing activities. The topic is not exactly new or original. The inappropriate activities have been reported in the press at the time of their discovery. If one is researching the topic or presenting a lecture, the book becomes an excellent resource with much material in one place.
Audience: This is probably suitable for graduate students in health policy or public health or for the basis for graduate seminars in pharmacy administration or social medicine. It might be useful for attorneys preparing for a case in this area. Persons working in the field of ethics or business policy in MBA programs would likely find the book to be helpful as well. The author attempts to be objective, but returns again and again to the known instances of less than ethical practices.
Features: A good introduction discusses ethical pressures in for-profit business. This is followed by examples of pharmaceutical industry ethical lapses and a critique of voluntary ethical codes now in place. An abundance of information and citations is presented about pharmaceutical company speakers' bureaus, drug samples, medical education practices, and clinical research activities. The author does a good job of organizing the vast amount of assorted reports and news clippings. He objectively discusses the situation where something is legal even if undesirable, noting that this behavior is what shareholders expect in the pharmaceutical or any industry. The book lacks figures or tables or illustrations. They can break up the monotony, add clarity, and aid in the comprehension of material.
Assessment: The book is well written and valuable for this niche of pharmaceutical industry marketing ethics. It would be good to have it available at academic libraries and pharmaceutical industry libraries. Since there is no other book exactly like this one, it fills an interesting void.