There is an incredible amount of controversy surrounding pharmaceutical companies & the medicated culture that exists in a large portion of the western world today. With 70% of Americans taking at least one pharmaceutical drug &their largest growing marketing being children, it does beg the question, are these drugs the best solution? & are they safe? Firstly I would like to let you know where I stand as the person writing this article- I believe that a lot of pharmaceutical drugs are dangerous & an industry that makes money from us being sick should never be in charge of making us healthy. Pharmaceutical “companies” are just that- companies. So if there was a miracle tablet that made us all healthy & they released it they would lose trillions of dollars. So just from a business standpoint, it makes no sense for them to make us healthy. Health should always be a non-profit area, because while profit is not always a bad thing, the dynamics of the pharmaceutical industry will always breed corruption & I am not saying all pharmaceutical drugs are bad, I am saying that they may not be the best option.
7 Shocking Truths About Big Pharma
Every year for the past 17 years pharmaceutical companies have spent more money on lobbying than any other industry. Outdoing their nearest rival by nearly a billion dollars. Last year they spent $230,932,063 & collectively they have spent $3,103,588,993 Lobbying is when you attempt to influence decisions made by government, an example of pharmaceutical lobbying is marijuana. It could potentially replace lots of expensive prescription drugs, so they hire people to make marijuana seem ineffective & dangerous & try to halt the progress of its legalization. (In 2013 alone PhRMA spent nearly $18 million on lobbying against marijuana.) The only reason they lobby against alternative health is because it affects their profits & historically they have started all kinds of scare campaigns the video below is a real film that was created about the dangers of marijuana. Remember that marijuana has now been proven to have medicinal properties & is effective in treating a wide range of illness. 1,2
Extortionate Pricing & profits
Considering America is 49th in life expectancy across the globe it’s a mystery as to why they are number 1 in health care costs. Ultimately healthcare should be just that, care! But in 2013 there were nearly 2 million people in the United States made bankrupt from medical bills, that is not taking into account those who have been financially crippled but not bankrupt. 56 million Americans under age 65 will have trouble paying medical bills & over 35 million American adults will be contacted by debt collections agencies for unpaid medical bills. This is due to overpriced drugs, overpriced treatment & shady insurance company practices (as having insurance doesn’t always stop people going broke). With some of their drugs marked up at over 1000% profit margins & global pharmaceutical revenue sitting at $980.1 Billion in 2014 you would think they might have a little room to lower their prices & put the care back into healthcare. 3,4
Spending more on marketing than research-
Pharmaceutical companies spend more money on selling the drugs than they do developing them. The biggest spender in 2013 was Johnson & Johnson who spent $17.5 billion on sales and marketing, compared to $8.2 billion for research & development.
Medical negligence is part of their expenses
The 20 largest medical lawsuits have amounted to 19.3 billion dollars & most of those lawsuits have been for false claims. Which means they can make things up about drugs & if/when they get found out they just pay a small fraction of their profits. No criminal charges, no accountability & they can continue with business as usual. Just to put things into perspective- someone is more likely to go to prison for an unpaid parking fine than they are for giving millions of people drugs that are not fit for their purpose & in the worst cases result in death. 5
They trial the drugs themselves
They talk about the process of bringing a new drug to market being a really thorough process & it does take years, but ultimately they submit their findings themselves & since we have tens of billions of dollars’ worth of false claim lawsuits going on, these pharmaceutical companies may not be the most trustworthy people for submitting data. Here is a piece from the FDA’s website- “Some companies submit a new drug application (NDA) to introduce a new drug product into the U.S. Market. It is the responsibility of the company seeking to market a drug to test it and submit evidence that it is safe and effective.” This means the process of drug approval is not independently verified giving the drug companies free rein to submit whatever data they want. When you take into account there previous tendencies to lie & the fact that the FDA is funded mostly by the pharmaceutical industry it does open up the doors for corruption. 6
Multiple prescriptions drugs are not tested
Drugs are not tested in combination with other drugs, think of it like this- if you mix alcohol with certain drugs you can get side effects ranging from lack of focus to heart & liver damage, all the way up to death. So what about drugs used in combinations? A recent study from Mayo Clinic showed that 70% of Americans are on at least 1 prescription drug & 50% are on at least 2. Which begs the question how are these drugs acting with each other? & are they safe in combination? 7
Doctors accept payments from pharmaceutical companies-
Doctors accept payments for marketing their drugs & while I spoke earlier about pharmaceutical companies spending more on marketing than research most of that marketing is directed at health care professionals. While an estimated $4 billion spent on direct marketing to the consumer, a massive $24 billion is being spent on marketing to doctors. This is a double edged sword as it not only promotes corruption from doctors who want to boost their income, but it also makes victims of trusting naive doctors who are unaware of the corruption that is going on. Luckily now you can check if your doctor is accepting payments & from which companies, although we are talking about an industry which has tendencies to be dishonest. So it is hard to trust the data, but it is a start in creating accountability. 8
Death caused by pharmaceuticals
According to the LA times in 2009 there were more deaths caused by pharmaceutical drugs than traffic accidents. There are also more deaths due to prescription drugs than there are to heroine & cocaine combined & since there seems to be this big war on drugs why are we not tackling the most dangerous ones, the legal ones being pushed on us by the people who are supposed to be the most trusted in society, our doctors. You have to remember that a lot of the lobbying efforts from pharma companies are against alternative health & trying to prove its dangers. If it wasn’t for the health ramifications that these dangerous drugs caused the hypocrisy would be almost laughable. 9
I think a lot more researching needs to be done in natural health solutions, being that most pharmaceutical drugs are derived from natural materials. I think it is important that we return to that natural state & start focusing less on the shelf life & profitability & more on lessening the side effects & increasing the effectiveness of the drugs. Alternative health is not as profitable & not as easy to monopolize as drugs so there are no financial interests in its research, the problem with natural solutions is that you cannot patent them, meaning that if a good natural solution was found it would be available to everyone. Think of it like this if everyone could create an iPad Apple would quickly go out of business as part of the reason they do so well is because they own the technology. The same works for drugs, if we could all create our own medicine using natural materials it would make pharmaceuticals obsolete. The pharmaceutical journey seems to be never ending road for many, with drug A causing a side effect that drug B will fix, the only problem being that drug B has side effects that drug C & D will fix & this can be a never ending cycle that goes on & on. As I said before maybe pharmaceuticals do have a place in our future or maybe nature is our best solution. But this is something we will never know the whole time there is profit in our health & we are looking for economically viable solutions, not the best solutions.
I understand scepticism & maybe you are sceptical about this article, but if you look back just a few short decades ago our doctors were taking payments (like they are now) to push tobacco on us. Tobacco was touted as a healthy solution to our problems & we now know it to be one of the most dangerous products out there. Watch this 1 minute video to see- “the brand which most doctors smoke.”