International Psychogeriatrics

For Debate

Commentary

Leon Flickera1 and Osvaldo P. Almeidaa2

a1 Professor of Geriatric Medicine University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia Email: leonflic@cyllene.uwa.edu.au

a2 Professor of Psychiatry of Old Age University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia Email: almeidao@meddent.uwa.edu.au

In 1919 the Dodge brothers successfully sued Henry Ford for his intended largesse, i.e. decreasing dividend payments by using his company to pursue broader social goals “to employ still more men, to spread the benefits of this industrial system to the greatest possible number, to help them build up their lives and their homes,” one of the mechanisms of which included increasing their wages. The Michigan Supreme Court stated that a corporation exists to benefit its stockholders, and may not use profits for “other purposes” (Hood, 1998). This landmark case demonstrated that the prime purpose of any corporation is to maximize its profits for shareholders. Therefore, it is probably naïve of doctors, researchers and the general public to expect the pharmaceutical industry to be driven by other principles, regardless of how noble they might seem. As a result, the driving force that supports the interests of the pharmaceutical industry may not be always aligned with the interests of doctors, patients and the communities to which they belong. How are we to judge that this conflict has evolved in such a way as to produce “excessive” influence of the pharmaceutical industry over other interested parties?