Katherine Eban is an investigative reporter and author. She has written for Vanity Fair, the New York Times, New York Observer and Nation. She’s the author of Dangerous Doses and, most recently, of Bottle of Lies: The Inside Story of the Generic Drug Boom. Bottle of Lies is an extensive investigation into the practices of drug companies in the United States and several other countries.
In a conversation with Madhu Trehan, Eban talks about pharmaceutical regulations, institutionalised data forgery, perils of medical tourism, and attempts by Indian pharmaceutical executives to “game the system”.
Speaking about the pharma industry’s obsession with documenting their every move, right or wrong, Eban reveals, “In the data fraud that I documented, it’s absolutely institutionalised in the way that it does business.”
On the practice of “medical tourism”, she says, “Many Americans think that they are geniuses because if they are coming to India for tourism, they can get medication for cheaper. But that drug can be different from market to market, depending on the vigilance of the regulator and the ethics of the manufacturers.”
She worries about pharma companies dumping generic drugs in markets with weak regulations, including in India. “Indian executives approach the regulatory system as an obstacle to be gamed. They bragged about who had most artfully deceived regulators.”