-- Big Pharma --
The Real Drugs Barons
So just what, or who is Big Pharma and why is the current state of pharmaceutical products development of any concern? You'll maybe have heard of Big Pharma, or the 'Druggernauts' as some call them, but have you really thought about the implications that the current way that we allow medications to be developed and doled-out, could be having for all of us?
Did I mention that my wife runs a website called www.DescubreSalud.com? If you have a small amount of Spanish you'll realize that means 'Discover Health' and the site is actually called ''Discover Health & Wellbeing (Descubre Salud y Bienestar). She publishes her own 'take' on many health issues that come from a long period of research and reading, trawling the 'Net and the libraries in order to tackle health concerns that were inadequately handled over MANY years by the 'qualified' medical community.
Big Pharma -- Not Short Of Support?
Well she recently received what was, in effect, a 'rebuke' from a no-doubt well-intentioned reader, from Spain as it happens, who had come across her website and took issue with some of her viewpoints and articles.
Now this person, who wrote articulately and in a well-educated manner, was obviously someone who 'towed' the establishment line. It is well known that many in the Spanish-speaking world are quite 'conservative' when it comes to questioning the 'establishment' and are probably as much, if not more, than any major group as likely to challenge authority figures as they are to say 'boo-to-a-goose'.
In fact, as I pondered on this point, I realized that most of us in the UK, and it would seem even more so the US (of course those of Hispanic decent are also the largest ethnic population in many areas within the US, too) are just as unlikely to question what are often still regarded as the 'font of all knowledge' when it comes to medical matters our 'Doctors'.
Is Your Doctor Still God?
These days maybe the standing of Doctors – well those in general practice at least – may not be quite what it was a few decades ago when the concept of 'Doctor as God' was pretty widely accepted (often most of all by the Docs themselves!). Yet even so we still fight shy of questioning their ability to diagnose and treat us, don't we? And maybe this is because we dearly want to 'believe' that our GP (or MD for those across the pond!) actually DOES know what he (or she) is talking about.
But have YOU ever asked yourself HOW does the Doc keep up with the fast moving world of medical science and discoveries and developments in the arena of health? I recall some years ago learning about Helicobacter pylori from a BBC documentary about the 'Ozzie' specialist who put forward the case for the 'bugs' involvement in stomach ulcer formation. As I was then suffering from an extended period of digestive problems stemming from possible ulcer-related causes I went to the Docs with a hopeful query about the new 'treatment' outlined in the documentary to try and be sure that Helicobacter was exterminated from my system! He hadn't a clue what I was talking about! (NOTE: Some 6 months later, when on yet another visit to the surgery, it was then HE who suggested I should try this 'great new' treatment for Helicobacter pylori rather than just keep going for more tests...it took THAT long for 'local medical knowledge' to catch up with the TV!...BUT SEE NOTE BELOW...)
Is Big Pharma Cultivating YOUR Doctor?
So how does YOUR doctor know what he is talking about? Well after leaving University clutching his degree (a time when any graduate knows as much as he is EVER going to about his degree topic having crammed for a few months before finals)...his ONLY real source of information (for MOST busy GP's/MD's) is simply the drug companies bulletins about their range of products and especially any 'new' money spinners they have brought onto the market.
True the odd Doctor might keep an eye on the press, or on the Lancet, or other medical research journals BUT rest assured these folks are FEW and FAR-BEWTEEN! With patient numbers rising and daily demands at a high, your local Doc just does not have time to keep up with everything that happens in the medical world. It is humanly impossible...and they are after all actually human and NOT God!
This is where Big Pharma has its Ace-in-the-Hole! It pays out literally hundreds of thousands of Reps to travel around plugging their wares to Doctors and pharmacists (That is the numbers of Reps alone in the US approaches 100,000 and there is well over 100,000 throughout Europe!) Generally these guys offer a variety of incentives (sometimes even worth cold hard cash to the practice, if not actually to individuals themselves) to the hard worked Docs to prescribe or promote the use of their latest, greatest innovation in the world of health. And -- given what are invariably 'rosy' and oh-so-polished reams of research papers that the Reps can provide to support their claims for efficacy of their latest 'billion-dollar-profit-potential-pill-or-potion' -- who can blame OUR poor Doc's for swallowing the spoonful of sugar that comes with marketing of these massive medicament money-spinners?!
So Just Who Is Big Pharma?
The medicine production industry is presided over by a handful of huge organizations. What were already only a relative handful of large corporations at the turn of the millennium have in recent years become further agglomerated into an even smaller oligopolistic group that literally controls production of the vast majority of the world's 'legal drugs'! Some major players in the Big Pharma league include:ABBOTT LABORATORIESASTRAZENECA PLC ADSBRISTOL MYERS SQIBBCELGENE CPGLAXOSMITHKLINE PLCJOHNSON AND JOHNSON DCLILLY ELI COMERCK CO INCNOVARTIS AG ADSPFIZER INCSCHERING PLOUGH CPWYETH
(...Check the box on any current, or the next, medication you are prescribed and you'll likely see one or other of these 'Big Pharma' names emblazoned thereon...and if, by chance, you don't then likely it will be a wholly owned subsidiary!)
In a world where there seems to be an ever increasing number of health challenges in both the developed and developing worlds the omens are all that in years to come the place to guarantee major returns on your investments (if you can aspire to share ownership) is by buying shares in the Big Pharmaceutical sector. These 'Druggernauts' are now too large, and too powerful to stop them from making many more multi-billion annual increments in their turnover figures! (Annual 'legal' drug sales turnover is in the ball-park of US$500 Billion and rising rapidly!)
And in a world where money talks, be sure that that Big Pharma ploughs plenty (if still only a fraction of their profits) into paying not only an army of Reps as discussed to 'butter-up' the purveyors of pills, but also lobbyists to keep their agendas firmly in front of political decision makers.
Big Pharma Profiting From A Sick Society
Using a combination of multi-faceted-marketing, smchoozing, and other more questionable practices, Big Pharma pretty much 'governs' the way that our tax dollars are defrayed on medicaments. This is why the data reveals that over the last quarter of the 20th century, of almost 1400 new drugs that were given the green light by Governments for use on the public, less than 20 were aimed at dealing with the truly major WORLD health issues that plague the developing world and cause millions to suffer and die each year.
Far and away the 'chart topping' drug developments in the last few decades have been treatments for the hugely profitable, 'first world world' illnesses that have largely boomed as a result of over-indulgence and ill-disciplined lifestyles. In other words drugs that seek to mitigate the effects of (rather than cure) health issues arising from problems such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, stress.
So, best selling drugs in recent years have been those related to lowering cholesterol, assuaging ulcers, reducing blood-pressure, and defusing depression. Notably almost all of these emerging treatments require 'lifelong' medication. Naturally, what commercially sage corporation would shoot itself in the foot by killing its 'Golden Goose' and actually developing a CURE for anything!
But Who'll Dare Ask The Big Questions?
There are BIG problems with the currents state of the medical world. It is becoming clear that in many respects the human body is a genuine case of 'the more we know the less we know!'.
It is also the case that some medical theory 'thinkers' and health researchers who have refused to be 'bought-off' by the 'gifts' and 'freebies' that have hooked too many of our GP's and MD's over recent decades are beginning to question even the most fundamental tenets of the 'germ theory' that so-called 'modern medicine' is based on. But it is largely still regarded as a heresy, on a variety of fronts,to suggest the foundation of medicine might be wrong (even though we have evidently, generally been making NO substantial head-way against many of the major diseases prevalent in today's world). But more of all this in another article!
It has also been shown that in a pinch, when even supposedly incrementally better version of a current drug (let alone a NEW treatment) cannot be found to further enhance the profits Big Pharma is not beyond selling a product that actually has NO proven benefits for ANY know illness! (Pfizer were fined US$240million in 2004 for doing just this!)
For now it seems Big Pharma are safe given that there are currently many educated folk who, like the no doubt well-meaning respondent to my wife's website, are 'stuck' in a old-world view of the 'sanctity' of medical science and belief that all those who work in the 'medical professions' MUST be right! Would that the world were that simple and reliable.
And it has often been seen that -- In the age of Big Pharma -- anyone with 'credentials' who puts their head above the parapet and questions the current medical-treatment ethic, or queries the power of these multi-multi-billion dollar businesses, can be sure that they will get picked off by the well-paid snipers that are widely placed to quell any 'rumbling in the ranks' that might cause even a tiny ripple in the sea of money that continues to flow from OUR tax coffers into the Big-Pharma-Phat-Cat-Directors' bonus accounts!
Regarding the Helicobacter pylori 3-week multi-anti-biotic treatment referred to above!...Of course I NOW would not thank you for Big Pharma's devasatating 'blow' to the natural flora of the digestive system -- and consequently bodily health as a whole. I now realize that this huge dose of anti-biotic is enough to knock-out a good deal of any remaining good bacteria in your gut. If you HAVE taken this questionable remedy for your possible Helicobacter infection recently -- be sure to look into taking a follow up course of good Probiotics to re-establish better 'gut and digestive health'!
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