Tough question, since it implies an insight into the intent of entire industries composed of thousands of people, which I don’t think it is possible to have. The discussion so far illustrates how easily issues of ethics and motives get mixed up with issues of epistemology. FWIW, I don’t think individual people, on average, are any more of less ethical in the pharmaceutical industry or scientific medicine or homeopathy or whatever. There is a mix of individuals with good intentions and bad intentions in all these industries. The sins in one camp don’t mitigate or cancel out the sins in the other, and neither has anything to do with the epistemelogical question of what actually works and what doesn’t.
Now, I have made abundantly clear in the thread this spun off of, and elsewhere, that I think scientific medicine, including most of what comes out of the mainstream pharmaceutical business as supervised by FDA, is a lot more likely to be of benefit than CAM. And while we have unrealistic expectations in the US about risk, so we react irrationally when drugs turn out to have unanticipated side effects in small numbers of people or in circumstances not forseen during pre-market testing, I think we know a lot more about the risks of pharma products than the untested, unregulated stuff circulating in the CAM world.
CAM purveyors often try take marketing advantagge of the idea that mainstream medicine is corrupt to portray themselves as somehow ethically purer, this is BS (as I’ve discussed in the David and Goliath Myth.) CAM is just as interested in making money as anybody, and in fact the pharmaceutical companies would love to tap into that evenue source. But this doesn’t negate the fact that at least somebody is watching what they do when they make prescritpion products, and nobody is watching when they or the pure ALT MED folks sell their herbs, vitamines, acupuncture, chiropractic, and so on. Granted, FDA doesn’t have the authority or manpower to do the job as well as they ought, but that’s mostly a result of Republican anti-governmentism over the last 30 years and the lobbying power of industry, both CAM and mainstream pharmaceutical. Many of us fighting nonsense in medicine may get a little testy when the evils of Big Pharma are trotted out. We acknowledge they exist and need to be remedied, and in fact many of us who fight unproven therapies are also critical of this industry. But the bogeyman of Big Pharma is so often used as a tool to distract from the lack of evidence of CAM or to claim a totally illusory moral superiority on the part of CAM that it’s hard not to be annoyed at having to once again try and explain why it has little to do with the very real differences between scientific and alternative medicine.