Robert Cockburn

Robert Cockburn is a writer and a former foreign correspondent who has reported for The Times of London and the BBC.

Recent Articles

Death By Dilution

In Graham Greene's 1949 thriller classic, The Third Man , Harry Lime -- “the dirtiest racketeer who ever made a dirty living” -- peddles diluted penicillin through the sewers of occupied Vienna. During the film's famous scene atop the city's Great Wheel, Harry's friend Holly Martins, played by Joseph Cotten, asks, “Have you ever visited the children's hospital? Have you ever seen any of your victims?” “Victims?” replies Orson Welles as Harry, pointing to the tiny figures moving far below them. “Would you really feel any pity if one of those dots stopped moving -- forever? If I said you can have £20,000 for every dot that stops, would you really, old man, tell me to keep my money -- without hesitation?” * * * In Vienna, Virginia, not far from Washington, a database of all the fake drugs discovered by the world's 18 largest drug companies is kept at the Pharmaceutical Security Institute (PSI). The data maintained by the PSI may well hold the key to saving millions of innocent consumers...