The Asian Tribune, August 21, 2010
By Shenali Waduge
They say there’s no money in healthy people. But, why is the pharmaceutical industry the most profitable industry in the world? It is because they have mastered the art of concocting the disorder, creating the drug for the disorder and then bombarding the public with advertisements to convince them they’re afflicted, leaving little choice but to get “prescribed”.
The growth in the pharmaceutical industry began to expand towards the 1970s. Pharmaceutical companies began to form mutual partnerships and began dominating the production of medicines. Advertising boomed making it possible for consumers to be enticed into believing there were miracle cures or drugs that would make people look young forever, increase sexual libido, maintain youthful looking skin with zero after effects or side effects.
Companies spend billions on “inventing” new drugs…they also spend billions on marketing them, USD53billion to be precise. But, how “innovative” are these companies? Most research and clinical trials are carried out at universities and funded by Governments. What happens thereafter is that drug companies “buy these innovations” and quickly patent them and quickly set up manufacturing plants. The only “innovation” done by these companies is to modify the existing drug something as minor as changing the color of the coating! A patented drug generally lasts for 20 years. It is only after rigorous study and testing which takes a good 10 to 15 years that Governmental authorities grant permission to market and sell drugs.
Loopholes in patent systems ensure companies are able to keep generic competitors at bay for years. These patented branded drugs naturally provides high profit margins but before the patent expires and competitors enter with a generic drug sold at far lesser prices, owners of branded drugs put out a generic version before the branded version expires…giving his company a head start in the sale of generic drugs. In 2006, the world had spent US$643billion on prescription drugs with US accounting for almost half of global pharmaceutical market. The US pharmaceutical industry is the most profitable of all businesses in the US.
It would not surprise anyone that companies spent up to $11billion annually on free samples, $6billion on sales representatives, $3billion on vague advertisements, we can only guess how many more billions is spent on bribing doctors, bribing researchers, bribing universities, bribing health officers, pharmacists, providing kickbacks and even running bogus “medical education” programs.
Essentially, what drug companies’ end up doing is using tax payer’s money to pay for medical research which they buy off, they then spend on massive advertising campaigns aimed at misleading the public about the effects of these drugs and “encourage” doctors to prescribe them!
Year in and year out drug companies end up the most successful industry with stunning profits part of which are used to buy off politicians and further promote themselves as champions of social responsibility and good corporate ethics!
There are no business ethics in the pharmaceutical industry – the industry is synonymous with money, profits, power and control. Pharmaceutical companies have mastered how to market social phobia/anxiety disorders in order to sell mind altering drugs. Does it not surprise and make you wonder why scores of people are being treated for mental disorders?
There are teenagers on anti-depressants and anti-psychotics because pharmaceutical companies want to ensure they have customers for life! Some prescription drugs are sold at more than 500,000% markup over the actual cost of their raw ingredients, naturally drug companies will do anything to sell more pills and it is why they end up inventing fictitious diseases and force parents to make addicts out of their children. There are scores of drugs available that are “habit-forming” tranquilizers?
Despite the number of drugs available why are people sicker than ever? Drugs have not helped people instead drug companies have made people addicted to drugs and suffering further from the side-affects of taking so many different combinations of drugs. In the US, over 100,000 Americans die annually from prescription drugs while a further 2million are injured by them.
The dominating companies in global pharmaceutical industry today are MERCK, Roche (fined in the US and Europe for participating in illegal price fixing cartel), Pfizer (ranked no.1, the makers of viagra the wonder drug of the 90s…. and probably soon to put out a drug that may do the opposite of viagra!), Bayer the inventor of Asprin….however hundreds and thousands of people die every year from prescription drugs? 27,000 people died of vioxx which is a nosteroidal anti-inflammatory drug which has been withdrawn over safety concerns associated with heart attacks, strokes. (though first approved in 1999 but withdrawn in 2004) It is believed that over 80m worldwide prescribed it in 2003 and its producer Merck and Co made sales revenues of US$2.5billion.
What is ironic is that there is not a single chronic disease which has been cured as a result of taking prescription drugs. What these drugs have done is to only treat the symptoms. Has chemotherapy proved scientifically accurate? It does shrink tumors but it adds nothing to a patient’s lifespan. The world is becoming sicker, fatter and more depressed than ever. The advice that people should listen to is not being given…eat healthy, avoid processed foods, avoid refined carbohydrates, avoid soft drinks etc…are rarely highlighted.
What’s more our doctors are duping us too…! In the US some mid-sized drug companies have close upon 1000 representatives lobby with companies spending over $5billion annually on sending these representatives to physician offices. The US spends $19billion annually on promotions, influencing doctors and other health professionals. As a result the physicians are lured into prescribing drugs associated with particular drug companies who ensure these physicians are well looked after and patients end up paying far more than they are required to as well as end up having to take another set of prescribed drugs to cut off the side-affects associated with the earlier drug!
Doctors are even paid to conduct fraudulent clinical trials on patients who are encouraged to take drugs for a 12month period to see its affects while the drug company profits through that particular year and the doctors enjoy the kickbacks as well. Some doctors who prescribe a particular drug company’s products and avoided competing drugs are even paid “consulting fees”. It is all a scam, and a vast majority of physicians become party to these unethical medical acts, pocketing the benefits & dosing up their patients with whatever drugs they’ve been told to prescribe. Doctors today are recipients of airfares & hotel expenses, luxury vehicles, even repairs and tyre replacements!
What is poignant and significant is that while physicians who may attend academic sessions with the thought of updating their know-how they are at the risk of being manipulated by pharmaceutical companies who pay high-profile scientists/physicians to speak on topics relevant to their products. Similarly, medical journals also help to promote specific products whose manuscripts are written by the pharmaceutical companies.
Essentially the public is at risk as a result of the direct and indirect relationships between pharmaceutical industry and the physicians. It certainly does breach professional ethics and may even bring dangers to patients.
Read the rest of this article here: http://www.asiantribune.com/news/2010/08/21/doctors-drug-companies-politicians-corruptions