Remembering the patient and putting the patient first emerged as a central argument at the #head2head PharmaTimes debate, Goldacre vs. Whitehead last night.
The debate tabled was: “Pharma is not getting its act together“. Dr Ben Goldacre, author of the book Bad Pharma, argued for the motion in one corner, versus Stephen Whitehead, the CEO of the ABPI, against. Goldacre lost.
Whilst neither pulled any punches in stating their case, there was an undeniable focus in the room on the way in which Ben Goldacre has approached tabling his criticisms of the Pharmaceutical industry.
My overarching worry for Goldacre’s desired outcome of his ‘Bad Pharma’ campaign is about putting patients in a position whereby they can read everything about a drug. They aren’t doctors or scientists and I cannot get out of my mind what happened when the now disgraced Andrew Wakefield created the MMR scare that caused children to die unnecessarily – all because parents were given a choice that they were not qualified to make.
Whilst transparency is absolutely critical if we are to ensure the best care for patients, it is essential for all stakeholders to agree on what they understand by transparency and work together towards a shared agenda that benefits patients. During the debate the ABPI acknowledged that the industry is not perfect but credit should be given to the work that has already been done towards ensuring transparency. The pharmaceutical industry is at the centre of innovation, supplying new and evolving treatments, prolonging the lives and quality of life of people living with many diseases, including those once viewed as a death sentence, such as HIV. Perhaps Goldacre should think about both patients and patience.