Dr. Arthur Dale Console, 46, former medical research director for E. R. Squibb & Sons, told the Senate Antitrust Subcommittee (TIME, Dec. 21), chaired by Tennessee's Democrat Estes Kefauver, that many drugs of high price but low medicinal value are being foisted on doctors and patients. Dr. Console emphasized that he was testifying about the industry as a whole and not as a witness against Squibb. (After recurrent bouts with tuberculosis, he quit the company to go into private practice in Princeton, N.J.) Then Dr. Console declared: "The incidence of disease cannot be manipulated, so increased sales volume must depend at least in part on the use of drugs . . . improperly prescribed."
The industry. Dr. Console noted, wears a cloak of "self-proclaimed virtue" for its costly research activities, stressing "that there are many failures for each successful drug." But, he charged, "the problem is that they market so many of their failures."
Under present law, a new drug may be marketed, "if it cannot be shown that it probably will kill too many people." Reluctantly, Dr. Console concluded, he is convinced that sweeping reforms dictated by federal law are the only solution, because a company that tried to live up to higher ethical standards could not survive in today's competition.
The keenness of that competition was emphasized by Ohio State University's Professor (of pharmacology) Chauncey D. Leake, 63, who is also president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The drug companies, said Dr. Leake, treat the nation's physicians as "simpletons" by flooding them with "flamboyant, exaggerated advertisements." And "these ads conceal for commercial reasons what is really essential for physicians to know."
The 20,000 "detail men" (salesmen who call on doctors) seldom give the physician the scientific background necessary for wise use of a new drug. "If promotional efforts were simpler and more informative," Dr. Leake contended, drug prices could be cut.
Insider's view: nearly half a century later what has changed?
Other than the "detail man" is now more likely to be female and there are nearly five times more of them!
Well, it could be argued that the industry has found ways of manipulating the incidence of disease. Consider "disease mongering" and diagnostic aids.