Guest Lecture, Prof. John Abraham (KCL): ‘Pharmaceutical Progress and Promissory Science: Regulatory Change, Innovation, and Public Health’, Edinburgh

Professor John Abraham, Pharmaceutical Progress and Promissory Science: Regulatory Change, Innovation, and Public Health

Date: 12-1pm, Thursday 3rd December 2015

Venue: Sydney Smith Lecture Theatre, Doorway 1, Teviot Place, Edinburgh


Drawing on years of fieldwork in the US and the EU, this lecture examines the relationship between government measures to stimulate and increase the availability of innovative pharmaceuticals, on the one hand, and the actual product outcomes in terms of therapeutic advance and public health, on the other. It begins by outlining some of the quantitative aspects of this relationship across the field of pharmaceutical innovation and associated regulatory measures introduced ostensibly to stimulate new drugs needed by patients. To examine this relationship in more depth, focus is then placed on the construction and use of clinical trial designs and surrogate markers of drug efficacy as a means to place new drugs on the market based on promissory science. It is shown how such measures have accelerated new drugs on to the market for serious illnesses, such as cancer and diabetes, but without providing therapeutic advance for patients and health-care systems. Particular attention will be given to explaining such outcomes in terms of changes to regulatory culture and politics, together with the implications of the medical-industrial complex and the emergent patient-industry complex for public health. The lecture concludes with the suggestion that the deregulation of drug effectiveness standards in order to stimulate drug innovations supposedly needed by patients during the last 25-30 years has been a fallacy, without which more drugs of genuine therapeutic value may have been developed and used.

John Abraham is Professor of Sociology at King’s College London Department of Social Science, Health & Medicine and Visiting Professor at the Science Policy Research Unit in University of Sussex. As Specialist Expert Adviser to the UK House of Commons Parliamentary Health Select Committee, he was centrally involved in its 8-month (Inquiry into the Influence of the Pharmaceutical Industry (2005). His main research interests are in pharmaceutical development, innovation and regulation worldwide. He is author of the recently published book Unhealthy Pharmaceutical Regulation:
Innovation, Politics and Promissory Science (Palgrave 2013).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *