Dear Dr. Roach • A friend was diagnosed with high blood pressure several years ago and has been on a hypertensive drug since then. However, over the past years, he has lost over 50 poundsand is no longer overweight. He works out every day. He never exercised prior to his diagnosis. He seems to be eating healthier foods now, too. Shouldn’t he be reevaluatedregarding the need to continue taking his drug? And what is the procedure to see if he needs to continue with the drug? — R.I.
More than a decade ago, I was alarmed by the high number of ethics scandals involving pharmaceutical companies documented in the media and the scholarly literature and hashed out in court cases and settlements. It was hard to know what to make of these reports. Were these ethics failures those of a few rogue companies or employees? Had the underlying issues been resolved? Or, did they constitute genuine widespread problems and risks for patients? I found myself wondering, are drug companies trustworthy, patient-centered, and socially responsible?
The general public certainly did not hold pharmaceutical companies in high regard, a condition that has only deteriorated since. The industry is perceived as the least socially responsible sector in health care. In some polls, drug companies rank just ahead of tobacco companies and behind Wall Street in perceived honesty, ethics and trustworthiness. Nine in 10 Americans think drug companies put profits before people;