The site generated curiosity, although got off to an inelegant start bordering on parody by hiding behind anonymous names - the list of editors was taken right out of the pages of Ayn Rand's famous novel, which portrays any type of state intervention in society as doomed. In its debut, the site complained bitterly that big pharma has been "vilified in the news, maligned in documentaries and penalized by over reaching, undereducated state politicians," who were largely blamed for mounting industry layoffs.
Now, apparently in response to numerous queries and, perhaps, the belated recognition that anonymity only raised suspicions, the site's editor has chosen to identify himself. "My name is Scott McTavish (aka John Galt)," is how the latest post begins. "I have worked as a sales representative, sales manager and director for three Big Pharma companies over the last 30 years. In that time, I have seen our industry grow, prosper, and help our customers in more ways than I thought possible. I am very proud to call so many of you in our industry, my friends.
"Over the last 3 years, politicians and journalists have begun to capitalize on our success through slander and regulation. The amount of vitriol and hatred making its way toward our industry is at an all-time high. Politicians see our industry as an easy way to extort millions of dollars for their pet projects and to increase their power over their constituents. Journalist use us a scape goats in an attempt to increase their readership, win awards, and grow their reputation as government loving, capitalist hating, free 'thinkers.' "
"A few things to keep in mind: Last year, Big Pharma saved the lives of tens of thousands of Americans with heart disease. What did our local state government(s) do? Last year, Big Pharma saved the lives of thousands of children with leukemia and other forms of cancer. What did your local journalist(s) do? Last year, Big Pharma spent billions of dollars in research and development to battle diabetes, cancer and heart disease. What did the Big Pharma hating bloggers do?
"If we don't stand up for ourselves and our industry, no one else will. Our focus needs to be on our customers and the citizens of this country. The vast majority of politicians and journalists are liars who can not be trusted to report the facts. Our organization's purpose will continue to be to take our message directly to our customers."
Scott, if this is your real name, welcome to the party. We agree that pharma has done a rather poor job of getting its message out over the past several years. Of course, the industry often doesn't help itself - think of the episodes involving undisclosed trial data, overstated claims or overzealous marketing, among other things. True, these instances shouldn't overshadow the good that industry accomplishes. In our view, though, the warts, foibles, missteps and violations are worth noting out of a desire to improve business practices, not eliminate medicine.
One other thing, Scott. Since you chose not to answer any of our messages directly, we are still curious to know more about your background and those of your 'staff.' We would also like to know what, if any, sponsorship or backing you may have. If you really do enjoy an open debate about all the facts, more disclosure would be helpful - unless your site is merely an example of astroturfing dressed up as a social networking experiment. Hat tip to Pharma Blog Week in Review (sorry, no link is available)