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Abstract

The four papers which follow, presented during an interdisciplinary symposium at the University of Chicago, respond to an atmosphere of growing public dissatisfaction with the pharmaceutical industry. The industry's problems include the rising cost of drugs, the slowing rate of innovation, concerns about the FDA's ability to effectively regulate the safety and efficacy of drugs, and the impact of the recently passed prescription drug benefit legislation. The past year has seen a flood of new books cataloguing these problems, including Marcia Angell's The Truth About the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What To Do About It, Jerry Avorn's Powerful Medicines: The Benefits, Risks, and Costs of Prescription Drugs, Jerome Kassirer's On the Take: How America's Complicity with Big Business Can Endanger Your Health, and John Abramson' s Overdosed America: The Broken Promise of American Medicine. Thus, despite a century of progress in developing safe and effective drugs that improve the length and quality of life, we are left with a fundamental dissatisfaction over the costs of medications and the rate of new drug development and innovation.

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