Quality, the Pharmaceutical Industry, and Public Trust

By-and-large the last few decades have been solid ones for the pharmaceutical industry. The public has largely trusted that what we make is safe, efficacious and in general a quality product. That is, after all, what the regulations are designed to do. And we, as quality professionals, together with our peers, have demonstrated a real passion for the patient.

But as the recent St Louis verdict against Johnson & Johnson shows, the industry has a growing issue with the public’s perception that pharmaceutical corporations need to stop placing profits over safety.

As the New York Times says:

Johnson & Johnson and its peers were once lauded as a collective of hero-innovators and credited with bringing an avalanche of lifesaving, world-changing technology from lab bench to patient bedside. Today they are more readily associated with rampant price gouging, the worst drug overdose epidemic in modern history and a steady beat of cases similar to the talc-cancer one, in which profitable products caused real harm.

We also have the FDA catering to industry, the revolving door between the FDA and industry, and a growth of scary pseudo-science that continues to erode trust (vaccine deniers are fairly highly placed in the current government).

As quality professionals, it is our responsibility to “Hold paramount the safety, health, and welfare of individuals, the public, and the environment.” Whether it’s in our companies, our professional associations, or our connections with the community we need to be striving to be the voice of science, of quality and of integrity.

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