the gorilla, pharmaceutical companies appear to have free rein over consumers by bombarding us with shifty marketing campaigns, draining our pocketbooks, and pilfering insurance companies with ridiculously overpriced prescription drugs.
You cant turn on the television today without being offered a drug for insomnia, depression, acid reflux, high cholesterol, or a plethora of other so-named diseases. Walk through a doctors office or hospital and you might notice that virtually every pen and notepad bears the label of a prescription drug. The lingering presence of pharmaceutical reps is also apparent as drug samples are dished out like candy in order to influence physicians choices to use their product.
Approximately 46% of Americans take a prescription drug every day and we are fast becoming a society intoxicated with synthetic molecules which our bodies are not always capable of detoxifying or eliminating.
Prescription drug companies are
shelling out millions of dollars in adver-tising, while an inappropriate consumer demand is being created for products that may be more deadly and less effective than medications already available.
According to the Journal of The American Medical Association, deadly side effects from prescription drugs are the fourth leading cause of death in the industrialized world. Every year in The United States alone, it is reported that at least 100,000 people die from the side effects of prescription drugs, and this is considered a very conservative number. That doesnt include the estimated 40,000 deaths from over the counter pain medications, or the injuries of two million others from adverse side effects.
Obviously, certain drugs are appropriate in order to save and extend lives; but critics of the industry claim that many drugs are unnecessary, highly expensive and harmful. Critics claim that improving human health is not a priority for the profit-driven drug industry.
Many prescription drugs merely mask symptoms, which is an obvious strategy in the development of pharmaceuticals. While the symptoms are being targeted, the cure and elimination of diseases are being avoided. Since the human body is the marketplace for the pharmaceutical industry, expanding and maintaining diseases can only enhance the growth of such industries.
The profits of the multi-trillion dollar drug industry outstrip every other industry by a long shot. Collectively, 10 drug companies in the Fortune 500 recently topped all three of Fortune magazines measures of company profitability in its annual analysis of Americas most recognized companies.
Drug companies claim that huge profits are necessary to further research and development. Aggressive research and development is vital, but that justification loses merit when many of these companies spend twice as much on marketing and advertising as they do for research. Next time you hand over $100 for a prescription drug, you can expect 35% of it to be used for marketing, advertising, and administration; 26% for manufacturing, executive pay, worker costs, etc.; 24% is pure profit; and 15% for research and development.
While families struggle to pay for medicine and face the threat of a bleak economic future, drug companies continue to prosper. In 2004 alone, the combined revenues for 10 of the top pharmaceutical companies exceeded $250 billion.
Its difficult to create new laws and price control regulations, when these profit-mongering corporations have such a huge presence in Washington, D.C., where they employ over 625 lobbyists.
Drug companies spent more money in the 1999-2000 election cycle to influence politicians than did insurance companies, telephone companies, electric companies, commercial banks, oil and gas pro-ducers, automakers, tobacco companies,
food processors and manufacturers -- more, in short, than any other industry, writes Katharine Greider, author of The Big Fix.
Most of that, about $177 million, went to hire lobbyists from 134 firms, including 21 former members of Congress, she adds. The industry also gave $20 million in campaign contributions and spent $60 million on issue ads.
Other nations use price controls to keep the costs of prescription drugs affordable. Its no wonder people are purchasing drugs from Canada, where you can save up to 50% on prescriptions.
Pharmaceutical revenues continue to increase exponentially with a concerted effort to simply make more and more money. The forceful creation of an artificial international monopoly is gouging Americans by maintaining higher U.S. prices and securing drug patents for up to 20 years. Although some of these corporations have been warned for misleading the public with advertisement, brochures and other materials, its apparent that they continue to pay off Washington politicians and F.D.A. bureaucrats to stand by and do nothing about it.
Sources: Reuters News, Journal of the American Medical Association, Fortune 500, Gary Lawson, Ph.D., DPA.
From my own experience, I can share a few thoughts on the exorbitant costs of
On a Personal Note
Due to a chronic medical condition, I have reluctantly endured a gamut of medications over the last three years. One of the many drugs I was prescribed is called Zofran. This particular drug is used for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, and has other uses as well. The price tag for a 30-day supply is $721. That averages out to $24 per capsule; and if necessary, I could take one a day, for an entire year, at a cost of $8,760.
Once again, this type of medication is to treat symptoms only. The potential side-effects of Zofran include blurred vision or temporary blindness, slow heart rate, trouble breathing, anxiety, agitation, shivering, feeling light-headed, or fainting. It may impair your thinking or reactions, so be careful driving or doing anything that requires you to be awake or alert. Needless to say, I decided to try it and only experienced three of the potential side effects, and a fourth one not mentioned, called sticker shock.
Furthermore, I declined an option for yet another drug called Rebif, which had a monthly
price tag of $3,600. The long-term effectiveness of the aforementioned drug has not been con-firmed and any medicinal benefits may be outweighed by the side-effects and excessive cost.
Throughout the confusing and frustrating quest for some answers to my medical problem, and more than 50 doctor visits, I was fortunate to find a physician with unwavering concern, who was willing to offer some alternative choices without jumping on the prescription bandwagon. Thankfully, some relief is being realized in the way of specific supplements at a cost of $6.25 per month, without designer drugs, without side effects and without emptying the wallet.