One of the main problems for the image of the pharma business is the persistent public perception that drug companies are more interested in treating symptoms on an ongoing basis than actually curing diseases and conditions. The conspiracy theory logic is that long-term treatment is far more lucrative than a one-shot cure. Those theorists got a boost for their conspiracies today in the WSJ, which reports that senior figures in the government’s anti-smoking campaign are on the payroll of GlaxoSmithKline, maker of Nicorette and Commit. By amazing coincidence, the government’s campaign materials urge smokers to utilize products like GSK’s instead of quitting cold turkey. And GSK runs an ad campaign called “Don’t Go Cold Turkey.” By further amazing coincidence, the data actually show that gums and patches are not more effective than going cold turkey. In fact, in 2006, two reps for GSK told me that consumers had difficulty with Nicorette because “The taste of Nicorette gum in general has been a barrier to compliance” and “They sat through years of focus studies to hear that their brand was terrible . . . Smokers wouldn’t stick to their smoking cessation attempts due to the lack of flavor.” Does this mean that the “scientists” GSK was paying who were on the government’s anti-smoking campaign were in fact recommending a product that GSK itself knew was “A barrier to compliance?” Like the French police chief in Casablanca, I am shocked—shocked!—to discover that there is gambling going on in this casino!