Recently read a book on big pharma. Google it, there are a bunch out there that probably all say the same things, not really much of a surprise, but interesting nonetheless. Hawaiian Libertarian had a piece on Pills and a similar topic just over a month ago.
First, I understand and fully appreciate that among the myriad of diseases, ailments, illnesses, viruses and disorders that drugs play a positive role in people’s lives and perhaps allow them to even be alive. If it wasn’t for some super special antibiotics I was given earlier this year when I contracted an antibiotic resistant staff infection, and found myself in the hospital, I’d be dead. By the time I went it in to the ER, it was streaking toward my lymph nodes and the infection was spreading fast. Thank god for those drugs! With that said, I think the development, manufacturing and distribution of medicine that has been developed already (and is off patent) is in a different category than Big Pharma itself. Think generic manufacturers of drugs vs. Merck, Pfizer, etc.
Big Pharma is in the business to make money. Period. To do so, they are more in the business of identifying, making up, and promoting diseases than they are in researching and developing drugs. If they have a disease they can bring to your attention, even if it’s not really a disease, they can sell you drugs to make it better. Some interesting things in the book about the industry
- They spend way more on marketing and advertising than on research and development. And some of the R&D they do is just marketing in sheep’s clothing.
- Most drugs that are developed are done so using public tax payers funds funneled through Universities and medical research centers. National Institutes of Health (NIH) is a big player here.
- The Universities and research centers aren’t in the business of large trials, manufacturing or distribution and subsequently are allowed to sell the formula to the big drug companies for a small slice of the profit. Drug companies don’t really have to spend much on R&D when they are buying intellectual property paid for by tax payers.
- Brand name drugs are under patent protection for 20 years, which means that they have exclusive right to sell that drug at whatever price they feel is right during that time. While clinical trials and FDA review chew into that time (6-10 years typically), they are often made up on the back end by extending the patent through legal tricks and loopholes
- The FDA, NIH, Doctors, clinics doing trials, authors of drug academic research papers, and congress all have their hand in the pot and it a convoluted mess as to what is really accurate information about any drug. Government scientists are allowed to be “consultants” for big Pharma. Doctors and medical leaders get kick-back or consulting gigs for their “contributions” in promoting drugs in any number of means. Lots and lots of conflicts of interest here
- The requirement for a drug to be brought to market is that it is “safe” and “effective” – only having to compare against placebo (sugar pill or the like), and not having to show it is better than previous versions of the drug. What the drug companies do then is replace one of the inactive ingredients with another inactive ingredient, or do minor variation of the active ingredient, then “PRESTO!” they have a new patent for a “better” version of the same drug they can now sell your for 5 times as much (literally, when generic drugs are allowed to compete they can drop to 20% or less of the name brand for the same drug).
- Big Pharma likes to butt-rape Americans for brand name exclusive drugs. There is no price protection in place like in other countries, so they can charge what they want. That’s why people go to Mexico or Canada for prescriptions if they can skirt the system.
- Doctors have no incentive to prescribe generic “old” drugs, or life advice that will benefit the consumer. And consumers are brainwashed into thinking if they don’t walk away with pills they have a bad Doctor. Wake up people, pills are not the answer! Healthy eating and exercise will fix many of the woes that people are medicating on
- The FDA pushes drugs through probably too fast due to improperly designed clinical trials that have Big Pharma’s mitts all over them, and pull harmful drugs off the markets too slow. They’ve approved drugs that were shown to be harmful overseas only to pull them a couple years after they’ve been pulled in other countries
- There are very few truly innovative drugs hitting the market in any one year – between 5-20 maybe. The pipeline is drying up and since they don’t really do R&D in the traditional sense (remember, they rely on public research and think tanks to do this), expect this to continue.
Quite the list, none should really surprise anyone. Promote a disease (are you sad during the trying times of college? Do you ever feel sad? You must have depression!), find a pill to fix it and sell the shit out of that pill. Good capitalist strategy. As you can probably tell by my ‘tude, but I’m not on any pills except fish oil and a multivitamin. If you improve your diet, drop your weight and exercise, many of the common “diseases” such as depression, heart burn, inflamation, pre-diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol and so forth can be addressed. The Mark’s Daily Apple Success Story Page has tons of stories of people with various ailments who switched to Primal/Paleo style of eating (cutting flour, wheat, HFCS, soy, sometimes dairy and craptastic partially hydrogenated shit oils) and miraculously improved. Check it out, some good stories there.
If nothing else, be very wary of “new” drugs that hit the shelves. Ask your doctor if there is an older drug alternative (generic) that may be effective. You may get the “yeah, XYZ may work , but…. [excuse]”. Push to try that first since Doctor’s often have drug reps pushing stuff on them and may have conflicts of interest themselves. I personally don’t trust doctors and will not take a pill if I don’t have to. Be wary, educate yourself, and if interested, check out any number of the books out there on drug companies and Big Pharma. It’s a twisted, high money, high power, big web in this industry.