Pharmaceutical virtue

Emily Martin

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    In the early history of psychopharmacology, the prospect of developing technologically sophisticated drugs to alleviate human ills was surrounded with a fervor that could be described as religious. This paper explores the subsequent history of the development of psychopharmacological agents, focusing on the ambivalent position of both the industry and its employees. Based on interviews with retired pharmaceutical employees who were active in the industry in the 1950s and 1960s when the major breakthroughs were made in the development of MAOIs and SSRIs, the paper explores the initial development of educational materials for use in sales campaigns. In addition, based on interviews with current employees in pharmaceutical sales and marketing, the paper describes the complex perspective of contemporary pharmaceutical employees who must live surrounded by the growing public vilification of the industry as rapacious and profit hungry and yet find ways to make their jobs meaningful and dignified. The paper will contribute to the understudied problem of how individuals function in positions that require them to be part of processes that on one description constitute a social evil, but on another, constitute a social good.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)157-174
    Number of pages18
    JournalCulture, medicine and psychiatry
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - Jun 2006


    • Pharmaceutical industry
    • Pharmaceutical marketing
    • Pharmaceutical salesmen
    • Psychopharmacology

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Health(social science)
    • Anthropology
    • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
    • Psychiatry and Mental health


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