So what can people do? Experts I asked advised paying close attention to signals of underlying financial connections, both on websites and social media posts and in messaging from seemingly benign health groups. Matthew McCoy, the medical ethics professor, says people should be vigilant if an organization’s funding sources and board members are obscured, or “if the life cycle of a group seems to perfectly match the push for FDA approval for a drug.”
It’s valuable advice. But it puts on the onus on patients, who shouldn’t have to know better.
This reminds me of the argument as to whether it is unethical to work at Google? For example, is an engineer for Docs impacted by wider choices as AI investing in the military or the development of a modified search engine for China? It would seem that from the response of workers that they are inadvertently.
I wonder if rather than trying to identify the parts in isolation, that we are better considering the various actors? I really enjoyed this breakdown of Latour’s work in this regard. For example, consider this description:
Gravity, he has argued time and again, was created and made visible by the labor and expertise of scientists, the government funding that paid for their education, the electricity that powered up the sluggish computer, the truck that transported the gravimeter to the mountaintop, the geophysicists who translated its readings into calculations and legible diagrams, and so on. Without this network, the invisible waves would remain lost to our senses.source
Not sure what this looks like in regards to Big Pharma, however I think that James Bridle’s book helps extend this conversation, especially with his discussion of Eroom’s Law:
Over the past sixty years, despite the huge growth of the pharmacological industry, and the concomitant investment in drug discovery, the rate at which new drugs are made available has actually fallen when compared to the amount of money spent on research – and it has fallen consistently and measurably.