Allied Against Reform: Pharmaceutical Industry–Academic Physician Relations in the United States, 1945–1970


During the 1960s, the drug industry was the subject of two congressional investigations into its business practices and pricing policies, and in 1962, passage of the Drug Amendments mandated greater Food and Drug Administration authority over pharmaceutical development. In this article, I examine the industry's efforts to circumvent these political challenges by drawing on its longstanding relationship with academic physicians and the American Medical Association. Using the medical profession's shared concern about expanding government oversight over therapeutic practice, the industry called on academic physicians to join forces with it and establish an expert advisory body to guide government officials on pharmaceutical policy. Drawing on research in the archives of the University of Pennsylvania and the National Academy of Sciences and a careful reading of the trade and biomedical literature and congressional documents, I argue that by positioning themselves as pharmaceutical experts, the members of this industry–academic alliance gave industry a seat at the policy table and enabled it to challenge the efforts of pharmaceutical reformers to further increase the government's role in drug development.