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Life and Cinema

2006-03-21 @ 9:24

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.

2 comments to “Life and Cinema”

  1. hey Marc Andre,

    thanks so much for the link to my piece on Big Pharma!

    I saw the Constant Gardener when it came out, and I loved it. It was everything a good story should be for me. My dad read the book and quite enjoyed it as well, he too likes LeCarre.

    all the time, the further I go along with my studies, I see how bad free market capitalism is for our world. It makes people so dishonest. And this business of making a corporation a separate entity that has no moral responsibility is just insane. The whole group mentality thing sets in, and since no one can be individually responsible for the actions of the group/corporation, individuals feel they can get away with anything!

    I’d love to do some more research into this topic, so stay tuned… you never know what might come up!

  2. Adbuster had an interesting piece, a few years back, on the development of corporations as legal persons, with the rights that go with it, going back to a dubious court decision in the nineteenth century. Problem is, as you mention, the responsibility is much less defined. And it’s not like you could charge a company for crimes like murder and such. You have to charge specific people.

What do you think?