The Reilly Center for Science, Technology, and Science will hold a workshop titled Taming the Pharmakon at the Notre Dame Rome Global Gateway campus from Thursday, October 12 to Saturday, October 14, 2017. 

Participants in this invitation-only workshop will address the regulation of the pharmaceutical industry, concentrating specifically on the US, EU, and South America as well as concrete ways to reform the industry ethically, legally, scientifically, politically, and financially.


In order to work on that “big picture,” the invitees are all top scholars who have been working on pharma reform from within their respective fields and perspectives, and who have suggested specific strategies for reform in their work. Nevertheless, our worshop is willfully not discipline-based, in part because pharmaceutical money has created too many niche specializations where drug policy considerations are segregated. The first task in "taming the Pharmakon" is to realize that any reform which arbitrarily restricts itself to narrow ‘regulation’ or ‘clinical trials’ or ‘bent science’ or drug pricing or the culture of "pharmaceuticalization" or ghost management or industry structure or a bounded national regime of health provision risks being neutralized by an industry proven expert in gaming the bigger picture.

We cannot aspire to fix everything; but we can assess the potential consequences of one reform for neighboring structures or reforms. The Pharmakon is a vast undertaking; reforms proposed for one arena can be rapidly undone by developments in another arena; reformers rarely opt to address system-level considerations. By bringing scholars together in Rome, we hope to start an active conversation about whether and how strategies could or would be used, the ways in which they may conflict, possible remedies for these conflicts, or else strategies for interacting with policy makers, and specific ways forward that could promise to improve pharmaceutical research, production, and regulation.

Invited members of this workshop will therefore engage in an extended discussion of options on how to best address these trends in both the EU and the US, and Latin America. Attendees will take into account various issues such as intellectual property, monopoly control, the existing regulation of drug approval, bureaucratic impediments to rational drug comparisons, conflicts of interest, the transformation and regulation of research, the regulation of marketing, manipulation of clinical trial data, managed care, and consumer demand in an attempt to untangle the web of relationships that make up the systems operating today in the EU and the US. 

  • Sergio Sismondo (Philosophy, Queen’s University)
  • Lisa Cosgrove (Safra Center for Ethics, Harvard University)
  • Jill Fisher (UNC School of Medicine)
  • John Abraham (Sociology, King’s College London)
  • Stewart Hogarth (Sociology, University of Cambridge)
  • Marc Rodwin (Suffolk University Law School)
  • Edward Nik-Khah (Economics, Roanoke College)
  • Manuela Fernandez-Pinto (Philosophy, Center for Applied Ethics at the Universidad de los Andes)
  • Nuria Homedes (University of Texas Health Center)
  • Shai Mulinari (Sociology, Lund University)
  • Joel Lexchin, (Health Policy, York University)
  • Courtney Davis (King’s College London)
  • Mark Robinson (NHS Alliance)
  • Donald Light (Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine)
  • Frank Pasquale (Law, Maryland)
  • Janice Graham (Dalhousie University)
  • Tom Jefferson (University of Oxford)

Please contact Phil Mirowski ( with any questions. 

Participants can click here for the private conference portal.