Pharma Scientists Mad About Mad Scientists Portrayed in Hollywood Movies | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News |

“Big Pharma is a perfect movie villain because it’s combining the mad scientist of science fiction with the big banks, the big-money villains of dramas and thrillers,” said Miranda Banks, an associate professor of cinema studies at Emerson College.


And the drug industry, witting or not, isn’t helping its cause with all those TV drug ads.


“Think about what the American public sees,” said Jeanine Basinger, a movie historian and professor of film studies at Wesleyan University. “Let’s say you’re watching TV and on comes an ad for Vicatacapoo. ‘It’ll make you well! It’s wonderful! And let me just mention the side effects: You will turn into a kangaroo, your ears will fall off, and you won’t be able to have sex.’”


Each 30-second spot serves as a reminder of an age-old theme: Miracle cures are rarely what they seem. “It goes back to the very beginning,” Basinger said. “It’s Adam and Eve — ‘you ate the apple,’ which is a form of ‘you took the pill.’”


And thus a replicable cinematic formula: Combine a noble scientific endeavor gone awry with a virulent strain of capitalism and you get — spoiler from 1968 — the downfall of human society.


Actual scientists are not always amused.


“I think it’s a huge chasm,” said John Maraganore, CEO of Alnylam Pharmaceuticals and chairman of BIO, the biotech sector’s largest trade group. “We’re an industry where our scientists come to work every day not worried about making money but about new inventions, new discoveries, and cures for patients.”