At the Guardian: The “widespread notion that academia is morally superior is ridiculous”

Richard P. Grant

A former biochemist and now medical writer, he has tried both the academy and industry:

For the last 18 months or so I’ve been working very closely with people with different roles (medical affairs, marketing, access, etc.) of one particular company. We’ve been preparing for the launch of a new indication for their product, following a phase 3 clinical trial that was terminated early because of overwhelming benefit. The product itself was developed in the company, from scratch, in a programme focused on meeting a particular medical need.

And you have never met such dedicated, driven, hard-working and caring people. For sure, they are well-paid, but I am not convinced that the money can ever make up for the hours they have put in and the stress they have endured.

No. They are determined to see this project through because they believe in the benefits of this drug (extended lifespan, improved quality of that lifespan) for real people in the real world. (And I would not be as personally invested in this project if I wasn’t impressed by the data as well).

People in academic science can be just as avaricious or venal as people in any human endeavour. They are human, after all. The idea, pervasive as it is, that research in academia is somehow more noble or pure than working in the private sector is as outdated as blood-letting. Richard P. Grant, “Is Big Pharma really more evil than academia?” at The Guardian

“Outdated as bloodletting”? Yes, for sure, especially in the age of Retraction Watch.  The idea that academia is somehow above it all may date back to the days when most academics were clergy. It wasn’t true then either but you can sort of see how people might have got the idea.

See also: Mortarboard mob “disappears” respected mathematician