Wasn't there, however, some reluctance on the part of pharmaceutical firms regarding their research on contraceptive products?

In a book that appeared in 1979, Carl Djerassi explains that pressure brought to bear by consumers unhappy with the harmful effects of contraceptive products, ran the risk of discouraging the firms' making these products.1 These same firms also showed reluctance about the research leading to the production of new contraceptive preparations.

The author's analysis is all the more interesting in that it shows that the intervention of public powers became indispensable if they wanted to overcome the impasse created by the private firms' reluctance. With an unusual insistence, "demographic problems" were invoked, and they drew from that the argument that public powers must intervene.

The "contraceptive establishment" was able to find a by-pass thanks to the firm of Roussel-Uclaf, which benefited from the support of the socialist government of France, in order to produce the abortifacient pill RU 486, equally sponsored by the W.H.O.

This understanding between the public powers and the famous Germanic-French multinational derived much from the difficulties endured by the North American pharmaceutical companies. It shows how seriously threats of boycott can be taken that threaten firms producing contraceptive drugs.

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  1. Carl Djerassi, The Politics of Contraception (New York and London: Norton, 1979).

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