ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Calcutta- XIII Annual Meet of MFC

Disseminating Misinformation BEWILDERED by the unbridled, unscientific and at times harmful claim made by the pharmaceutical industry in general and their spokesman Aravind Nair in particular, Kamal K Shaha, a young medical graduate, raised a very genuine and pointed question (EPW, August 2) "From where will medical students and doctors learn pharmacology and medicine? From teachers, books, journals and hospitals or from the salesman of the drug industry?" Nair (EPW, August 23) has sought to confuse the issue further. He has advised Shah to change his teacher without explaining who these new teachers are going to be. There may not, after all, be very many international authorities' like John Marks to teach otherwise. Unfortunately, Marks has not found a place in Goodman and Gilman's "Pharmacology'', the internationally acclaimed standard text book on the subject. My diligent search ended in an advertisement of a publisher which mentions that Marks has compiled a book on vitamins which, it has been claimed, "provides the busy family physician with a working outline of present views about the importance of vitamins in medical care". ... "Essential information on vitamins is provided without the book becoming an all-embracing monograph on the subject. For this reason the biochemical and physiological considerations have been kept to a minimum.'' Does compiling a 'cure all' type of book make one an international authority'? Quoting an anonymous professor associated with WHO and an imaginary statistics ("90-95 per cent of drug marketing was honest") carries no meaning. However Shah's letter clearly categorises that Nair's observations belong to those remaining 5 to 10 per cent. It is well known that MNCs utilise the WHO and its connections for their own ends. Recently, MNCs recruited the service of Jayasurya (EPW, May 24, an ex-consultant of WHO to discredit and malign the people-oriented Drug Policy of Bangladesh. Nair is surely not unaware that one of the members of the organisation he represents utilised the WHO-logo to brainwash doctors about a harmful anti-diarrhoeal (chloramphenicol- streptomycin combination) drug. Time and again WHO has permitted itself to be used against its own policy on essential drugs. It took a long two years for Halfdan Mahler, the Director General of WHO to comment on the Bangladesh Drug Policy favourably.

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