The United States accounts for only 5% of the world’s population, however; the U.S consumes approximately 50% of all pharmaceutical drugs manufactured. The Pharmaceutical Industry has an annual net worth of 300 billion dollars and is expected to increase to 400 billion in the next three years. While Pharmaceutical drugs are supposed to help you heal and cope with ailments, they have many adverse effects on your body. Many people spend several years trying to find the right drug to help them deal with an endless list of ailments, yet there’s never seems to be the perfect answer (Goldacre, 2014). As people enter their elder years, they are noticing the side effects of long-term pharmaceutical drug use, weakening liver, failing kidneys, heart problems, and a rotting brain ultimately leading to death. Many of these symptoms have been chalked up to be signs of old age. However, these symptoms are just unnatural when looking at the anatomy of humans. There are hundred upon hundred of proven homeopathic remedies to treat nearly 99% of all aliment’s. When you go to the doctor with an issue they will always write you a prescription and rarely will they inform you of natural remedies. Medical marijuana alone has proven to treat and cure many forms of cancer, epilepsy and heart disease. By just eating well and exercising regularly most people would completely avoid most ailments (Scherer, 2007). The Pharmaceutical companies are getting rich off our bad habits, not only that but homeopathic remedies/ cures are extremely overlooked, and if the pills don’t kill us, the medical bills will. This paper will have an in-depth analysis of why pharmaceutical companies are out just to mint money rather than help people improve their health.
To start with, as Americans, we have built our lives around poor habits and prescription drugs to mask those habits. Perhaps one of the biggest issues we face in America is the food we are provided with. Unregulated food products, GMO foods, and fast-food are making the pharmaceutical company’s triumphal, but why is this? Americans are known for having a higher than average rate of obesity, according to the NIDDK (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases) approximately one-third of adults in America suffer from obesity. Now how does that link to the Pharmaceutical companies? Well, the richest pharmaceutical company in the world makes a huge chunk of money off a little drug known as Lipitor (Goldacre, 2014). If you’re not familiar with the drug, Lipitor is a Drug produced by Parke-Davis to treat and lower the amount of bad cholesterol as well as strokes, heart attacks, and type II diabetes. The number one cause of all those ailments is poor eating and exercising habits. And The Pharmaceutical companies love it. Lipitor alone rakes in a whopping 13.5 Billion dollars a yeah just because we eat bad and don’t exercise.
Now, what’s even more peculiar is the fact that Homeopathic remedies are extremely overlooked. Not often do you got to the doctor and not leave with a prescription. But almost every ailment can be a treat or even cured using homeopathic remedies. Medical Marijuana is beginning to see the light, but not by the government, but by the patients. Marijuana alone can control epileptic seizures, anxiety, pain of multiple sclerosis, Glaucoma, Spread of HIV, Alzheimer’s, and can even help stop the spreading of various types of cancer and even cure multiple variations of cancer. But that’s not the only natural medicine, local honey is known for treating air born allergies, sage is even used as a natural form of anti-anxiety medication (Scherer, 2007). But if there are so many alternatives to pill then why don’t doctors recommend them? Perhaps it is because they are in cahoots with the Pharmaceutical companies.
It is also imperative to understand that most of these pharmaceutical companies spend a substantial amount of their resources in the intensive marketing of their products rather than in research and development. For instance, a recent survey of the top 20 pharmaceutical companies in the world none had brought a new drug in the market for the last few years, especially for treatment of malaria, sleeping sickness, TB or any other neglected illnesses. In fact, it is alleged that they only spent 1% of their budget on research and development. The few innovations and new drugs introduced in the market are as a result of funds from taxpayers to academic institutions, small biotechnology companies or the National Institutes of health. The new drugs discovered by these institutions are then sold to the Americans at inflated prices by the selfish pharmacists. The pharmaceutical companies are profit driven and hardly do they think to spend on research and development to help in curing persistence illnesses.
On the same note, even the ‘’new’’ drugs introduced in the markets are rarely new but rather are just variations of older drugs already existing in the market (‘’me-too’’ drugs). The producers of these drugs are driven by the idea of grabbing a share of the established, lucrative market by producing something similar to a top-selling drug (Goldacre, 2014). This has brought about the concept of generic drugs which have devastating effects on human health. It is prudent to note that these variations are at times even worse than the current one. For instance, we now have six statins in the market (Mevacor, Lipitor, Zocor, Pravachol, Lescol, and the newest, Crestor) all of which are expected to lower cholesterol. It is essential to point out that all of these drugs are all variants of the first. Most drug manufacturers find it easy changing slightly an existing product with a ready market than introducing a new product that would take the time to penetrate the lucrative pharmaceutical market (Scherer, 2007).
It is also sad to point out that over the past two decades the pharmaceutical industry has drastically changed from its original high purpose of discovering and producing useful new drugs. Unfortunately, it has turned into a marketing machine selling drugs of dubious benefits. The industry has consistently used its wealth and power to co-opt every institution that might stand its way, including the US Congress, the FDA, academic medical centers and the medical profession itself (Goldacre, 2014). The massive wealth accumulated in the industry has led to the industry being looked to for political donations and lobbyist paid to put pressure on Congress to ensure that the business flow is uninterrupted. Corruption is evident in the industry and has consequently undermined the role of Food and Drug Administration which is indeed underfunded to limit its influence.
And lastly, if the drugs themselves don’t kill us the medical and insurance bills will. The average annual cost of insurance for one person is approximate $6,000. Even if you fail to visit the doctor at least once a year, you are still paying through the nose for coverage. Even worse, If you are diagnosed with cancer and stick it out and come out on top and beat the illness, you can almost count on being millions of dollars in debt. This can be terrifying for those of us who do not have millions of dollars lying around to save our lives (Elliott, 2013). The average cost of cancer treatment is approximate $10,000 a month, and that’s the bare minimum of treatments. However keep in mind cancer is not an easy battle nor is it a quick one. Many patients fight for years before they beat it. Many people who are diagnosed with cancer and beat it live very financially restricted lives.
In a nutshell, the pharmaceutical industry in the United States is out just to make profits rather than help improve the health standards of the Americans. It is prudent to note that the top ten companies in the industry make more profits than the rest of the Fortune 500 combined. The companies are always in intensive marketing campaigns where they usually featured beautiful people enjoying themselves to confuse Americans on the suitability of these products (Elliott, 2013). Nevertheless, the truth is that the firms are less concerned with people’s welfare but rather an extra coin earned from additional prescription. This explains the reason why there is few innovations and release of new products in the industry. Despite spending a small percentage of their earning on research, the companies sell these drugs at inflated prices. Also, doctors and other practitioners will always write prescriptions even for illnesses that can be cured by alternative means (Scherer, 2007). The cost of medication in the United States is quite high and with the low-quality drugs, then Americans are doomed. Corruption and increased monopoly rights in the industry have only made the matter worse, and it is high time that we look for alternative drugs such as natural drugs and body exercise to avoid illnesses such as diabetes and cholesterol in our bodies. The policy makers should also stiffen rules and regulations governing the industry to ensure that the safety of citizens is not compromised.
Elliott, C. (2013). The truth about drug companies (again). BMJ, 346(jan30 1), f632-f632. http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f632
Goldacre, B. (2014). Bad pharma. New York: Faber and Faber.
Scherer, F. (2007). The truth about the drug companies, by Marcia Angell, Random House: New York, 2004. xx +305 pp., $24.95. Managerial And Decision Economics, 28(4-5), 521-522. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/mde.1361
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