Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Trusting Those that Promise to Cure Us

Two articles have just been released (see links below) providing further evidence that pharmaceutical companies are in business to make money and are willing to take risks to raise profits even if it means killing a few customers in the process. You usually trust your doctor, but when he hands you samples for a drug and a slip of paper containing a prescription you have to wonder if he truly believes that it is the best drug for you. Is he basing his decision on his own research or has he been psychologically persuaded to dish out the drugs because some beautiful twenty-something pharmaceutical sales rep took him out to dinner and gave him a bunch of documentation on the drug that is slanted in favor of the company that manufactures the drug?

It seems that Baxter International was selling Heparin to people that contained a "heparin like" substance that was cheaper to produce. Now, Baxter says you can't blame them. They didn't intentionally alter the formula, it was their Chinese manufacturers that decided to taint the drug to make a profit. This raises a valid question. Should we trust a company that hires a factory in a foreign country to provide medicinal components to the drugs we take on a daily basis? We're already told to be weary of lead tainted toys, now we have to worry about the medicine that we may rely on to keep us alive. Where are the labels on our prescription bottles stating "Made in China"? The consumer has a right to know if their medicine is being off shored in order to cut costs for the producer of the drugs. When you think of China made goods, you think of cheap labor and often substandard materials. These two ideas are not what we should be equating with our prescription drugs.

Another appalling example of the direction drug manufacturers are taking is the case brought forth against Merc and their drug VIOXX. It seems that Merc hired outside "professional writers" to write what they provided as "solid academic research". This "professionally written" material was delivered to doctors as valid scientific information. These for profit pharmaceutical companies are hiring for profit writing firms to produce material that is marketed towards your medical provider in the hope that he/she can be manipulated into prescribing the medication to you. It is in the best interest of the pharmaceutical company to sell the drug. They market medications as if they are marketing a pair of shoes or a cup of coffee. A cup of coffee or a pair of shoes won't necessarily kill you, but a drug manufactured and marketed based on lies could.

The government is not helping regulate this to the extent that it should. It seems that our capitalistic system lets the consumer down hard when it comes to health. Drug companies should not finance studies into their own products. Doctors should research medicines and should not allow pharmaceutical sales reps into their offices, no matter how pretty they are and how many baseball tickets they offer or how many free lunches they provide the staff. The concept of ethics has deteriorated all the way around.

Visit the Google health news feed for at least a year and take note of the news stories there. You may come to the conclusion that things are good for you one week and bad for you the next. Breakthroughs are mentioned and then never heard of again. It seems that health news is hard to put your trust into because the medical field has lost its way. The truth is that these economic powers are wrestling to keep you buying what they have to sell. It appears that they don't care if it is good for you or not. They market to you and manipulate you and in the end they say it was your decision to take the medicine or to smoke the cigarette or to drink the soft drink. It's hard to make your own decisions when you have been brainwashed since your youth while you innocently watched your Saturday morning cartoons along with the heavy dose of commercials pushing goods in order to build brand recognition in your developing sense of self. We are just fodder for the systems we have developed. We are a renewable resource that feeds the non-sustainable consumerism machines.

One must be paranoid when it comes to health and trusting the "system". We must all wonder if we are given drugs to just simply "maintain" our illnesses. If a cure for something is discovered, then the pharmaceutical companies lose. They don't want to lose. They sell drugs and want to continue selling those drugs. It is in their best interest to develop drugs that offer a way of providing relief without providing a cure. It may sound sinister, but it is basic economics.

Further reading:
Hired Writers, not Scientists, Create Information for Doctors
Drug Altered for Profit
Fighting the Drug (Ad) Wars

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