Institutional Corruption and the Pharmaceutical Policy

10 Pages Posted: 27 Jul 2013 Last revised: 26 Feb 2014

See all articles by Marc A. Rodwin

Marc A. Rodwin

Suffolk University Law School; Harvard University - Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics

Date Written: December 6, 2013


In this symposium of The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, 16 authors investigate the corruption of pharmaceutical policy, each taking a different look at the sources of corruption, how it occurs and what is corrupted. This introductory essay summarizes each article, discusses the key theme that run through the articles, and provides SSRN web links to access each of the 16 articles. The articles are organized into five topics: (1) systemic problems, (2) medical research, (3) medical knowledge and practice, (4) marketing, and (5) patient advocacy organizations.

Today, the goals of pharmaceutical policy and medical practice are often undermined due to institutional corruption — that is, widespread or systemic practices, usually legal, that undermine an institution’s objectives or integrity. We will see that the pharmaceutical industry’s own purposes are often undermined. In addition, pharmaceutical industry funding of election campaigns and lobbying skews the legislative process that sets pharmaceutical policy. Moreover, certain practices have corrupted medical research, the production of medical knowledge, the practice of medicine, drug safety, and the Food and Drug Administration’s oversight of pharmaceutical marketing. As a result, practitioners may think they are using reliable information to engage in sound medical practice while actually relying on misleading information and therefore prescribe drugs that are unnecessary or harmful to patients, or more costly than equivalent medications. At the same time, patients and the public may believe that patient advocacy organizations effectively represent their interests while these organizations actually neglect their interests.

Suggested Citation

Rodwin, Marc A., Institutional Corruption and the Pharmaceutical Policy (December 6, 2013). Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics, Vol. 41, p, 544, 2013, Suffolk University Law School Research Paper No. 13-25, Available at SSRN:

Marc A. Rodwin (Contact Author)

Suffolk University Law School ( email )

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Harvard University - Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics ( email )

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Cambridge, MA 02138
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