I worked for Schering-Plough pharmaceuticals for a few years about 20 years ago.
they didn’t manufacture anything that would kill anybody – maybe the animal drugs division I don’t know.
mostly I was working with Claritin when it was still under patent.
I signed so many non-disclosure agreements.
there’s always class action lawsuits against drug companies because they are a big side of a barn to hit and they readily pay to avoid too much scandal
while working there I concluded that they are not immoral.
but what they are is amoral : their ethical stances are guided by avoiding lawsuits.
lawsuits are part of operating costs but I wouldn’t say they knowingly market dangerous drugs that they knew would kill people
drug companies don’t change much of the product they make : they modify existing products because all of the strong drugs have already been made 60 years ago
everything they make now is weak and barely functions so that they can sell more product.
they have to beat placebo only by 5% which is their goal.
they don’t make drugs too strong because they want it to be applicable for as many millions of people as possible
All that said, that reflects my opinions of the pharmaceutical company I worked for and not others in the industry.
Here’s one example: While I was there, viagra was the hot thing and they wanted in on the action.
So they partnered with Merck (who ended up buying them 10 years after I left) to try and come up with their OWN Viagra, based on a different formulation that could generate nitric oxide biologically.
They had moderate successes in animal testing; it worked on the mice and other animals
But when they got to human beings, they simply could not beat placebo.
Placebo is SO powerful in humans that this product they spent millions developing and worked in animals could not beat placebo in human beings no matter how many tweaks they made.
And so they had to abandon it completely.
What makes Claritin work is that is barely works; Benadryl is far more powerful and older; Claritin beat placebo by just enough of a margin to make it worth taking; I still take (a generic) of it sometimes; and being weak has the benefit of eliminating most side effects.
But again, my experience from within is limited to working in one single company for a few years a while ago