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For a while we've known that both the processes and products of the pharmaceutical industry need to be regulated.
The roots of this regulation stretch back over a century. The Kefauver-Harris Drug Amendment was passed in 1962 in the US in response to thousands of severe birth defects caused by the drug Thalidomide -- meaning drug manufacturers were for the first time required to prove the effectiveness and safety of their products to the US Food and Drug Administration before marketing them (EU directive 65/65 covers similar ground here).
Since that time, we've created huge obstacles in terms of time, money and evidentiary rigour between drug manufactures and the market; on average, it takes about ten to 15 years and hundreds of millions of dollars for a drug to make it from the lab to the pharmacy.
And as we come to a greater understanding about conflicts of interest and prescribing patterns, we also regulate the activities of pharmaceutical companies at an even smaller level, such as when and to whom they can give pens or free lunches.
In stark contrast, we have the financial industry...
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Dan Ariely is the James B Duke professor of psychology and behavioural economics at Duke University, North Carolina, and the author of The Honest Truth About Dishonesty (HarperCollins)