Extinguishing the “Big Pharma Monster” Myth

Big Pharma is behind all basic research and medicine? No.


I hear the “Big Pharma Monster” myth on a daily basis. This myth is neither informative nor productive. It simply distracts from the high quality basic research being conducted by incredibly brilliant scientists. It is crucially important that the public understand that basic scientific research, like the research my colleagues and I conduct, is non-profit.

No, for the last time we are NOT in “cahoots with the “Big Pharma Monster””.

Basic research is non-profit. And yes, researchers conduct research and seek to understand biological systems based on a desire to better understand the truth. At the same time, scientists are human and can have their own biases just like everyone else who is a non-scientist. Basic scientific research is defined as fundamental theoretical or experimental investigative research to advance knowledge without a specifically envisaged or immediately practical application. It is the quest for new knowledge and the exploration of the unknown. In addition, basic and applied science are a continuum. They are inter-dependent and only when basic and applied research are integrated do we solve important questions resulting in innovation. Of course, not every scientist is brilliant. Nor does every scientist conduct high quality convincing research, but there are a many scientists who do.

Fascinating basic research is already being conducted. So, let’s put the popular “Big Pharma Monster” myth to rest and focus on the abundantly available evidence-based high-quality research. And remember, not all pharmaceutical companies are evil. Many pharmaceutical companies have developed drugs which are saving lives and families.

What’s my take home message? Generalizations rarely ever benefit anyone, if at all. So let’s stop generalizing all scientists, all medicines and all doctors.

I simply want to clarify that the basic research community is not a pharmaceutical company nor are we being funded by them. The majority of us are not associated in any way to pharmaceutical companies. This means that we do NOT receive funding from them. Those who do receive funding are required to claim a conflict of interest in their research papers. Full disclosure is an important and essential component of the research and publication process.

Many of the incredibly talented scientists I know, from young investigators to Nobel Prize winners, are not funded by grants from “BigPharma”. Again, to be clear, I am not arguing for or against “Big Pharma”, I’m simply clarifying that the vast majority of us are not funded by them.

Let’s take this non sequitur “Big Pharma monster” myth out of our scientific discussions so we can start to have productive discussions about science and medicine. Let’s focus on what we have learned from incredible research discoveries, all studies included, and discuss how we can apply that knowledge towards improving our understanding of the natural world.


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