Many people have strong feelings about film/documentary producer Michael Moore. Actually, I have to confess, I’ve never seen one of his films, but I would like to one day. In any case, his current work, SiCKO has been selected as an entry in the Cannes Film Festival which starts today and lasts until May 27.
Playing at Cannes, however, will provide some preview insight into how audiences feel about the movie and will be a harbinger of the reception and public interest in the film for this summer when it opens in theaters.
Many in the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries have anticipated the release of this movie with a combination of dread, disgust and feelings of being picked on. It may be tempting for industry to just call the movie and its maker names and move on. And, it will be equally tempting for industry critics to embrace the film as dogma and continue to scorn the industry that beings near-miraculous treatments to the populace. My fear is that SiCKO won’t lead to healing, but to a further polarization of camps.
Movies are movies, but there are also realities that need to be faced both by industry and its critics.
Pharmaceuticals are in a tough spot. Critics need to realize that it is a exceptionally highly regulated industry (and more so all the time) which means that there is a greater opportunity for mis-steps. They also need to consider that the development of new medications is expensive and hard and if profit isn’t made, drugs won’t be made either – period. But industry also needs to face hard facts that mistrust is generally bred by a lack of information in the public domain.
I would like to think that SiCKO is perhaps an opportunity for industry and for industry critics to do some soul-searching, asking the real tough questions about how people got to feeling the way they do about the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries, and what can be done about it. But for people on each side of the issue to spend time this summer calling the movie or its maker names isn’t likely to advance anyone’s image – industry or its critics.