Monday, February 23, 2009

Skeptical Sunday!

But a day late...ah well.

Big, Greedy, Unscrupuous Pharma

Corporate Conspiracy Theory #4:

“The pharmaceutical companies are making up diseases to sell us their drugs.”

I’ve heard this actually come out of more than one person’s mouth. This makes absolutely. no. sense. if you think about it. Are they advertising drugs to treat existing diseases? Yes, they are, and they market them to the hilt. You can certainly accuse them of “repackaging” or “rebranding” diseases, and giving them a sexy acronym, but they aren’t making diseases up out of thin air, and then bilking you out your money.
Drug companies have a very powerful incentive to make things that actually do something, and treat very real diseases that they spend millions of advertising dollars on: reputation. If they sell millions of sugar pills, that treat a fictitious disease, they are going to get sued sooner rather than later, no one would ever trust a company that got caught selling a sugar pill, ever buy their products again, and the company would die.

If you buy into the above Big Pharma conspiracy, here are the assumptions you have to make:

1) That they really make up diseases (which, you can look up on PubMed and see, yes, there is literature on each and every disease advertised), and that a television commercial, or magazine ad is going to somehow convince a large number of people who do not have the fictional disease that they do. This assumes an ridiculous amount of gullibility on the part of the general public.

2) That they do this instead of making real drugs to treat real diseases. So they're what, spending hudreds of millions of dollars just looking busy?

3) That all these now-convinced people, victims of marketing, will go to their doctors, who are also in on the conspiracy, because what doctor isn’t going to lie to someone who could sue him into the poor house for a box of logo pens, demanding the drug for the fictitious disease, and the doctor will, of course, oblige, sniggering in his complicity.

4) That these sugar pills are actually loaded with stuff that mimics side-effects, which will enhance the placebo effect, and remove the symptoms you don’t have for a disease you never did.

5) And all this while, you’d have to assume that not a single person within the pharmaceutical company has a shred of morality, that every single doctor in the medical community has a lifetime’s supply of pens to keep her mouth shut, and that everyone in the FDA is so far in the pockets of every Pharma, that not a single one would ever speak out.

“But, but, but they have to make up stuff and sell drugs, because they’ve invested so much money into their drugs.”

Well, yes, that’s why real drugs that work are so expensive. You’re not just paying for all the testing for the one that works, but for all the others that didn’t! It takes years to develop a drug that works and doesn’t kill people, and it’s not 7-11 employees doing the researching folks, but highly trained,educated, expensive people. They deserve to be profitable, or else there’s no point in making the drugs. If you think they should be giving the drugs away because it’s wrong to charge people who are sick, take that same logic to your grocer and see if he’ll give you food because you get hungry. Heaven help you if he buys into your philosophy because he’ll be out of business in a New York minute, and then where will you be?
Good Lord, people, everybody loves a multi-million dollar Hollywood blockbuster, which is completely frivolous, uses insane amounts of resources, is horrific for the environment, usually contributes nothing to the intellectual or artistic progress of anyone, and hopes it makes buckets of money. Manufacture a drug that may relieve human suffering, possibly offering hope for the first time in history for its sufferers, perhaps even save someone's life, but make so much as a dime, and you're a greedy, evil fucker. Am I the only one who sees the moral inversion necessay here?

Yes, bad things have happened. People make mistakes, some things aren't found out before damages are done, and yes there have been cases of corruption. Nothing's perfect, but the nature of the industry is such that it's pretty much self-correcting.

Pharmaceutical companies are not making up diseases to sell drugs. They are marketing their drugs in the hopes that if you have the very real disease, your doctor will prescribe it. They are expensive because it was expensive to make them. The more profit they make, the more new drugs they can research. And some of that profit is fun money for a job well done, and they deserve it. Why is this last paragraph so difficult for people to believe, but the gigantic conspiracy theory, with millions of people keeping their silence in its interdependent assumptions is the preferred reasoning for some people? These are the same people who would never be fooled by that bogus advertising, but insultingly think everyone else is being fooled. Unreal.

1 comment:

Gretchen said...

YOU know who was going through my head whilst reading this.
Well done. I totally agree. (And by the way, I've actually not heard THIS particular brand of crazy come out of the aforementioned person's mouth before. Guess I've just not been in the wrong place at the wrong time.) :)