Drug Makers Actually Make Lemons not Medicines!
The lemon, of course, is a metaphor and is not a pretty one. But Donald Light, a sociologist and professor of comparative health policy at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, contends that the spate of instances in which drugmakers hid or downplayed info about serious side effects - or overstated benefits - has transformed the market for medicines into one for lemons.
"The basic idea is simple but arresting: just as there are hidden dangers and flaws in used cars, so there are in drugs. And just as used car salesmen have an incentive to profit from not disclosing risks the consumer cannot see under the shiny exterior, so drug companies and their reps have an incentive to profit from not disclosing risks the physician and patient cannot see inside a shiny new pill. In a number of ways, however, drug markets differ from used car markets. One way is that bad drugs do not drive good drugs out of the market, as Akerlof famously predicted in the article that helped him win the Nobel Prize. Rather, they stay in, mixed with higher risk drugs," Light tells us, after presenting a paper on the subject at the American Sociological Association annual meeting last week.