Thursday, September 01, 2005
Fear Mongering, Profit Driven Drug Companies
The above is an ad I saw in Time Magazine by a drug company trying to enforce its communistic grip of the US drug monopoly that these types of companies have enjoyed for so long. They are using this as a scare tactic to convince you that anything made overseas in some "shady" country could not possibly be trusted. If that is the case, then don't ever shop at Wal-Mart, buy another pair of shoes or buy a car from any American car company ever again.
Why is it that we can trust a place like China to make our baby strollers, safety seats, children's toys and every piece of baby clothing but we can't trust them to make a boner pill? Why is it that this is one area where capitalism and free trade is bad? Why are they so afraid of the competition?
Is it because the top 7 pharmaceutical companies earn 20 billion in annual profits, that the top 12 make more profit than all the top 24 automotive related industries, including GM and Ford, combined? Could it be because a company such as Merck made 6 billion dollars in profits in 2004? Could it be because these companies make an 18.5% return of revenues, which is 8 times higher than the average of other industries? Could it be that the pharmaceutical industry wants to remain one of the most profitable industries in the world? Or could it be that we as Americans are just being taken for a ride since we pay around 45% more for drugs here than they do in other western countries, and we account for nearly half of all world wide drug revenues?
In 1990 Americans spent 37 billion dollars on prescription drugs but by 1997 it was almost 79 billion. In 2001 the top 10 US drug companies increased their profits by 33%. Prescription drugs are the fastest growing portion of health care costs as they typically increase 17% per year and will soon overtake physician compensation as the 2nd biggest expense in medical care.
You may say that they need to keep competition out because they are developing cures for cancer and AIDS and need the revenues for research and development, and to make sure their drugs are safe, right? Wrong. Only 1 out of 5 dollars made in the drug industry goes towards research and development; most companies spend twice as much on marketing and advertising. Most drug research comes from small biotech companies who later get their breakthroughs pushed by the major drug companies. The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) states that over 100,000 people in the US die per year due to side effects from their medication; that's almost three times the amount of deaths from automobile accidents. The FDA claims there may have been as many as 28,000 deaths from the drug Vioxx alone.
Now, to address all the bullshit in the ad; I know the thought of buying medicine from the Neanderthals in third world nations such as New Zealand is terrifying so I have come up with some statistics from the CIA to break down the threat.
Greece, Canada, Israel and New Zealand all have longer life expectancies than the US. If these countries can keep their people alive longer than we can, then I want to take the drugs that they are taking; clearly they are working.
The Czech Republic, Greece and New Zealand all have higher literacy rates than the US. Maybe the reason our drugs kill so many people here is because the pharmacist can't read the labels and end up putting the medicine in the wrong bottles.
Here is another thought; half of the countries listed on their map are now or were at one time nuclear powers. So does this mean we trust them with the power to wipe out humanity but we can't trust them to cure humanities menstrual cramps and swollen prostates?
I would also like to point out that the company who made this ad is a British, not American company. China and India both have a larger GDP than the UK (2nd and 4th) and both have plans of going to the moon within the next few years. Oooh, I'm scared; besides, when was the last time you saw a doctor or a pharmacist who wasn't from one of the countries that were mentioned in the ad?