Pharmaceutical Companies Will Eat Your Children

June 23, 2008 at 10:55 pm Leave a comment

Okay. Maybe I’m exaggerating a little bit. Maybe pharmaceutical companies will not actually eat your children. The point that I’m trying to get across though, is that pharmaceutical companies are pretty indifferent to your plight (and that they drink the blood of puppies, but that’s another post).

Pharmaceutical companies are a fairly popular whipping horse for the left, and to a good extent this is not without good reason. Their profits are, well, redonkulous, drugs cost more than ever, you can’t watch five minutes of television without thinking you have some terrible disease, and it seems that there have been a few, ahem, ethical improprieties lately when it comes to burying unflattering pre-approval trial data.

One of the things that I am semi-regularly accused of being is a “shill” or paid operative for pharmaceutical companies. I really have to chuckle at that one, because you think they’d find someone with better writing ability and more intelligent (and better looking, I might add) to pump their products covertly. I digress.

I get called that because I tend to stick up for PCs, at least moreso than most of my liberal brethren do. Alot of people’s complaints about PCs are pretty valid and run the gamut from eminently reasonable criticsm such as not being hands-off when it comes to conducting clinical trials of drugs to eminently insane criticsm such as being part of a vast global conspiracy designed to kill babies / give them autism / get the entire population hooked (hence the “eat your children” title).

I wanted to address part of that last criticsm of PCs, namely the belief that some hold that PCs are developing harmful products. You hear that a lot from the CAM crowd, with the inevitable conclusion being that CAM modalities offer none of those pitfalls (which is wrong, and stupid, but that’s another post as well).

By “harmful product”, I don’t merely mean a drug that has side effects but can win out in a cost v benefit analysis, but rather a product that kills. Kind of like cigarettes, only these don’t make you look nearly as cool.

Usually, I can find some common ground with people who go that route in the PCs are primarily motivated by profits.

PCs do not care about you. They don’t care about making sure your ailing grandmother can afford her medication. They don’t care about your minimum-wage job that offers no benefits. They don’t care about your children. They don’t care about your pets (unless you have puppies – see above).

They care about money. That is the one and only thing that they care about. This is so because that is the way corporations function. They are set up to please investors and share-holders, and the way that they do that is by raking in cash hand over fist.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that PCs wouldn’t make a whole hell of a lot of money if they were driven by some byzantinian-scheme to kill every man, woman, and child on the planet. In fact, there is a vested interest for them to innovate and to create products that actually help so that people will spend their hard earned money on them.

Think of it like this – drug A causes immediate combustion of the internal organs. Drug B cures cancer. Which do you think would be more of a money maker for the PCs?

That is not to say that PCs don’t do some crappy things. One of my favorites, as an example, is when PCs are about to lose their patent on a drug (which means that a generic knock-off can be marketed at a much lower price). So what do they do? They’ll tweak it a teeny-tiny bit (for example, Sanofi-Aventis added an enteric coating onto their vanilla Ambien, thus creating a controlled release formula) and extend the patent on the drug – thereby costing consumers more by not really doing any extra work at all.

I really don’t want to sound like a free-market loon (as I think that regulation should be tighter and there should be more transparency for the entire process), but I do think that PCs get a bad rap. They do provide a valuable service. Without medicine, we would scarcely recognize the world in which we live today.

It would be nice if they didn’t have to be such dicks about it, is all.

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Entry filed under: Medicine, Science. Tags: , .

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