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Smoke and Thalidomide

 

Smoke and Thalidomide

Perspectives vol 14

 

 

If all our debate on proposed legislation focuses on the economic basis of the policy, at what point have we lost sight of the purpose of government – to represent and protect its people? Have we decided that economics trumps public welfare?

Edward Nik-Khah’s Smoke and Thalidomide is an enthralling examination of the power of economists - and their constructed institutions - in the mobilisation of the US pharmaceutical industry in the 1970s, and their continued influence in how the industry controls our knowledge about drugs today.

Dr Nik-Khah’s paper explores the evolution of the policy settings governing drug pricing and the medical marketplace in the United States. He draws on a deep well of historical knowledge to offer us what in many respects is a cautionary tale. As in the best narrative traditions he concentrates our attention on a single strand then draws our eyes to the patterns formed as a means of observing how the world works.

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