Why Are We Here?
As the curtain is about to rise on Pharmalot II, and before we start eating each other for breakfast, I started to think about what gets people so hooked on this topic in the first place.
Of course, there are those whose interest reflects their work in industry. But, unless they ended up in pharma entirely by accident, there remains the question of why they chose that way.
Likewise, those who end up on the regulatory side.
And there are those whose lives were saved, or radically improved, by drugs. Or who believe approval of a particular drug will have that impact for themselves and others.
And, conversely, there are those who have been injured by drugs--or close to those who have--who become involved as a result of that experience.
Still, I think there remains a large number of people, including members of the groups above, who find the topic intrinsically fascinating, almost addicting.
As I see it in my students, I believe one factor is that the topic is precisely on the crossroads of issues in the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities. Or, more specifically, where medicine, politics, economics, ethics, and more all meet. No question there is a "moral drama" inherent in many pharma issues--the promise of such much good; the commission, at times, of very bad--it's a soap opera (or even a high opera) all its own.
Perhaps pills are, or have become, doctors in miniature. And they attract the same complex mix, and spectrum, of feelings--hope/trust/uncertainty/mistrust.
As I sometimes say to my students, "When a sociologist messes up, nobody gives a fig. But when pharma messes up....."
A different story.