Programming Note: Darts and Letters is off. We are producing a new season on Cited Podcast, which is called “the Rationality Wars“.

Secondary Symptoms #7: Medical Imaginaries

Our whirlwind tour of the pharmaceutical industry ends this week. We’ve shown you the dysfunction, now we look for a better way. For some reason, the political vision is so curtailed here. Where is the manifesto for a new system? Even on the Bernie wing of the left, much of the focus is on negotiating better prices and importing pharmaceuticals from other countries. Today, we look at ways we can fundamentally change the industry, and medicine itself. 

On this episode of Secondary Symptoms, Gordon Katic interviews economist Dean Baker on his simple idea for how to overhaul the dysfunctional pharmaceutical industry: change the patent system. Then, Jayasree K. Iyer of the Access to Medicine Foundation reminds us that other viral infections — HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria — will surge because of COVID-related disruptions. Finally, we end with Cambridge philosopher Jacob Stegenga. His polemical book Medical Nihilism speaks to the limits of medicine. Perhaps the simple but more overlooked interventions — access to good food, clean air, healthy neighbourhoods —  may offer more than the elusive ‘magic bullets’ of medicine.  


This episode is meant to accompany a wider series that we are doing this season about COVID-19 and the pharmaceutical industry. If you are interested in this episode of Secondary Symptoms, you would certainly be interested in a recent Cited documentary: the Tamiflu TrialsYou can find it in this feed. 

You can also find related articles on our website, Including articles by our research assistant, Franklynn Bartol, on topics like: industry funding of patient advocacy groups, the meaning (and limitations) of ‘evidence-based medicine,’ and the broader research literature on industry funding and why it’s a problem


To keep up with Cited, follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Tweet at us, or email your feedback to–we might just read it on the show. 


This episode was produced by Jay Cockburn and Gordon KaticFranklynn Bartol was our research assistant.

Our theme song and original music is by our composer, Mike BarberDakota Koop is our graphic designer. Our production manager is David Tobiasz, and executive producers are Gordon Katic and Sam Fenn.

This episode was funded in part by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada. This is part of wider project looking at trends in pharmaceutical research and policy. Dr. Joel Lexchin at the University of Toronto and Professor Sergio Sismondo at Queens University in Kingston are the research advisors on that project.

Cited is produced out of the Centre of Ethics at the University of Toronto, which is on the traditional land of Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat Peoples. Cited is also produced out of the Michael Smith Laboratories at the University of British Columbia — that’s on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations.

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