The pharmaceutical industry is one of the widest and rapidly growing industries in the United States of America. It is a well known fact that the generic name of the medicines is usually the same, while the trade name may differ. Such circumstances, certainly creates competition in the market. The physicians undoubtedly have a vital role in determining this competition. So, the pharmaceutical companies would obviously target the physicians for the promotion of their brand.
The pharmaceutical companies have no contract whatsoever with the doctors or nursing staff, and nor do they mandate the prescription of a particular drug in the clinic or hospital. Under such conditions, if they offer a decent lunch or offer some gifts to the medical professionals, it is does not cross any line of ethics.
There is no doubt that some companies, like the manufacturers of a Magnesium Channel Blocker, Calmitrol which invite the physicians to promote the drug. They choose a five star hotel as their venue and also pay the travel expenses for the doctors, but these expenses are equally divided into the millions of people who profit from this drug. Also, the prices of the existing drugs are not increased. The company manages the expense from the existing profit and this program undoubtedly increases the awareness among the medical community. Furthermore, the initiatives like scholarships are residency programs financed by the pharmaceutical companies help the society in getting a better class of doctors and increase the interaction between the professionals.
Lastly, I would like to say that too much of anything is bad. Every coin has two faces; on one hand where there programs provide so much to the doctor, it also takes away from the patients. Thus, there has to be a body to regulate these events. The US Government or American Medical Association needs to take regulatory measures to control the spending of pharmaceutical companies on the medical professionals.
Thus, the bottom line is, everything has its pros and cons. However, what would be better for the society is, to regulate the cons and promote the pros! Hence, the pharmaceutical companies should be prevented from wasting their money on doctors, and be in a line of modesty which works well for all. This would not only help the medical professionals, but also would help the patients since they would have to pay less.
The author is primarily perturbed by the increasing “shortcuts” which the modern media have started to prefer in the wake of the Internet age. I agree with the author on the grounds that Internet has indeed affected the way we see and perceive information today. Be it newsprints, magazines, cinema or even novels – creators always want things to be delivered in a small package. I have been an avid reader of Scientific American for more than 5 years now, and I have seen marked changes in the presentation styles of the authors. An archive issue from 1980 differs significantly from that of 2012. There are more graphs, less text, more “Key Points” boxes and shorter paragraphs. I am not saying that they have become less informative, but the stress has truly shifted to succinctness.
But I disagree with the author’s verdict on the negative impact of this trend. Let’s face it – no one has time to read David Copperfield these days. But that doesn’t mean that we have to miss out on the information. What the Internet tries to do is increase the data density. It has become simply imperative to know more these days. An average person needs way more today, than he used to probably 10 years ago. In that sense, the presenting information in a form which is readily comprehensible has positive effects. As far as the idea of investing time in deep thoughts is concerned, I do not think Internet discourages that. Yes, it is “distracting” to jump from sites to sites, but on the positive side the more sites you have visited, the more things you know, the more dimensions you can give to your thoughts.
Finally, the author’s comment on artificial intelligence and seeming hurt about the brain being treated like “an old computer which needs faster processing and larger hard drives” is a little misplaced. Yes, comments from Page and Brin do suggest that brain is slow at computing. And that’s true. But that does not mean that a machine can actually replace a brain. The brain isn’t simply meant to compute. Thoughts aren’t a series of computations. If the brain is augmented in computation by faster search engines or machines, it gets more time to “think”– the thing which machines haven’t been able to do till now. I believe, that’s what Google meant when it conveys that the brain would be better off with a faster search engine.
I remember the day when Wikipedia was blacked out for whole 24 hours in response to Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). That was the first time I heard about the bill, and my first thoughts about the Act were pretty much resonant with those of the author. Yes, it is a ‘good-hearted’ law but as the author has pointed out by numerous examples– it can be used with devastating efficacy to stoop freedom and open-endedness that the modern internet users enjoy. Major hits would be to social networking sites and sites like Wiki which are user modulated. With stringent laws, the whole of the responsibility of the information gets transferred directly to the sites.
The Act is sort of a legal parody of the proverb ‘shooting down the messenger’. Internet is a media. Sites are the places where ‘people’s’ views are displayed. Putting the legal responsibility on the sites to censure and moderate content would significantly reduce the volume of opinions that people broadcast these days. As the author has aptly pointed out, “why invite a legal hassle, when you can simply press ‘delete’” is a clear discouragement to the freedom of speech people enjoy on the internet. If the SOPA materializes it would be an end for blog sites, for example. Considering that blogs were all about personal views, maintaining a log of what you think– Censuring these would simply make them useless.
I wouldn’t say that there should be no law to regulate online piracy. It is a genuine problem and intellectuals face massive losses because of this. In that line, closing down of the famous eBook site library.nu in the wake of SOPA, was a positive move. But laws have to take of the proverbial question of ‘who will guard the guards?’ into account. There should be an efficient negative feedback loop for anti-piracy acts.