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Just saw The Constant Gardener. Very good movie about the ill-dealings of drug companies, diplomats and politicians. It somehow reminds me of the best 1970’s movies. It has a similar field to those politically charged thrillers.
This is what the author of the book, John LeCarré, notes in the end credits:
“Nobody in this story, and no outfit or corporation, thank God, is based upon an actual person or outfit in the real world. But I can tell you this, as my journey through the pharmaceutical jungle progressed, I came to realize that, by comparison with reality, my story was as tame as a holyday postcard.”
I like LeCarré, he has a fine grasp of psychology and it shows in many of his books, which are not simple spy novels. And it is interesting to see how this former Foreign Service employee started writing in the middle of the cold war and followed the change in secret service politics and targets as time went by.
On a more tragic and real note is the story of the TGN1412 trials in the UK, which led to devastating side effects for the six test subjects. As one immunologists notes in Nature’s blog, “I am surprised that somebody wanted to give it in vivo!! (…)I would never have given anti-CD28 to a human. There is gross oversight in the approval process and the authorities should have taken opinion from a wider group of Immunologists who could have anticipated the disaster.” Some pharmaceutical companies are becoming famous for disregarding such warnings. They’re like kids: if mom says no, they go to dad and ask again.
For those interested, Thinking Girl has an interesting primer on the main focus of the pharmaceutical industry.