Lucas Richert is a sessional lecturer in the Department of History, University of Saskatchewan. He received his PhD from the School of Advanced Studies at the University of London. He has published works on American politics and health policy in places like Pharmacy in History, Social History of Medicine, and his recently published book is called Conservatism, Consumer Choice, and the Food and Drug Administration during the Reagan Era: A Prescription for Scandal (Lanham, MD: Lexington Press, 2014). His next research project examines American psychiatry and the pharmaceutical industry in the 1960s.

Pills, Politics, and Movie Magic: Big Pharma, the FDA, and the Dallas Buyers Club

The 1980s was a time when the regulation of Big Pharma got twisted, turned, and pulled upside down by politicians, consumer groups, and drug industry leaders. Of course, at the centre of the pills and politics tug-of-war was the Food and Drug Administration, an independent government agency that was constantly under pressure. The AIDS crisis raised the stakes even higher: for people who needed special, experimental HIV/AIDS drugs like Ron Woodroof, and for regulators, who sought to carry out their duties in a professional manner. Was the FDA perfect? Certainly not. But was the FDA a cardboard villain, as the movie suggests? Definitely, no. Continue reading