The debate about the functioning of the pharmaceutical industry is enmeshed in a wider political debate. There seems to be reluctance to confront the ideological issues head on. This allows the continued burbling of those who create ideological opponents by declaring themselves on the side of "the free market" and against "intrusive regulation" while failing to define the meaning of the words they use. It is why we read twaddle like this from Billy Tauzin of PhRMA or the illogical rants of Robert Goldberg and Peter Pitts on DrugWonks. These individuals (in my view) represent the very antithesis of the free market they espouse.
There is an interesting "Political Compass" that has been working its way through a few political blogs. Take the test here. My score is below. I challenge my friends on the blogroll to report their scores. I suspect we all lie in a similar range - hardly foes of the free market or of industry in general.
As already pointed out, there are some significant flaws in the questionnaire, but it's a useful start. Some propositions are worded in such a way that people with radically different views on the issue would be forced to answer in a similar way.
Here is one example of a proposition one is asked to score:
Question A: "Governments should penalise businesses that mislead the public"
That is an incomplete proposition, and one which begs several qualifying clauses. One could ask a different question:
Question B: "Governments have the right to protect businesses that mislead the public by enacting legislation and through regulatory procedures which
a) disallow scrutiny
b) allow hiding of evidence
c) prohibit litigation by individual consumers through regulatory pre-emption rules"
I suspect these answers would distinguish Billy Tauzin or Robert Goldberg from the ideological straw-men they set up as adversaries. The distinction is between honesty and dishonesty, and open transparent science versus secrecy.