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With the possible exception of financial services it is unlikely that any other major industry polarises opinion amongst healthcare professionals to the same extent as the pharmaceutical industry. A report from the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) has recently highlighted the role medicines have played in transforming the management of many conditions including HIV infection and cancer, and how vaccines have helped to confine a number of infectious diseases to history.1 The document also discusses how medicines have the potential to improve NHS efficiency and lead to overall cost savings. However, the main focus of the report is on the wider contribution made by the pharmaceutical industry to the UK economy by providing significant numbers of jobs and generating a trade surplus. The ABPI concludes that …