Can pharma fend off circling critics?

There's no doubt that drugmakers are drawing fire these days. Presidential candidates are proposing all sorts of changes that would cut into pharma sales and profits, from importing cheaper meds from Canada to allowing generic biologics to letting Medicare negotiate drug prices, presumably downward. At the same time, Congress has been all over the industry and the FDA, probing everything from DTC marketing to data-burying to doctor-wooing.

Yes, pharma is becoming everyone's favorite target. Even medical journals have drug makers in their sights. Catherine DeAngelis, editor in chief of the Journal of the American Medical Association, tells the Wall Street Journal that she has more articles about the industry's role in research on the way: "I want to show how they manipulate the data and why we have to be so cynical about them." Ouch.

Billy Tauzin, head honcho at the industry group PhRMA, says the association has formed a task force to consider pre-empting the critics with its own marketing reforms. "We think some of the criticisms are valid," he says, "and we ought to address them." Whether voluntary changes will be enough to satisfy the circling wolves remains to be seen. In an election year, maybe not.

- read the Wall Street Journal report