Empty Days

Sunday, February 08, 2004



The evil world of Pharma Inc

Everyone is afraid of drugs. Legal and illegal. And the legit industry that produces them is plain scary. NASA too would be scary if we had to ingest its products - because they're incomprehensible and they go wrong on you (look what happened to Columbia).

But of course the scariest part is not so much the complexity of the drug as the fact that it's presented as your best friend - and it tells you: "eat me!" And that's about all it wants from you.

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And where does it talk to you? It talks to you on tv. The drug is advertised on tv in flashy colors, with nice chubby people happily jumping around and singing in chorus: "eat it!" And since you really trust what tv tells you, the next day you demand an appointment with "your doctor" (even if you don't have one), and you go to his office and you demand the drug, and you say: tv told me to eat it. And you don't leave until you get that prescription. Because you're an "informed consumer" - albeit a sick one.

I don't know what it is but we don't get many drug commercials on canadian tv. But we have american tv too, and that's where all the beautiful drug commercials are. There you have young football players feasting on viagra and extremely fit baby-boomers recommending hormone drugs and sleeping pills. There you learn that your doctor loves you so much you should really see him more often. There...

Yes, that's where Pharma Inc has its home and preserve. That's where illegal drugs are hated and legal drugs are loved. That's where FDA lives too. And it lets all those pills talk to you on tv - so you might eat more of them.

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This is the evil world of Pharma Inc. The world where incomprehensible, terrifically complex stuff, thrives on your informed ignorance so it may produce more pills. It doesn't care which pill you really need - it fact it doesn't want to know what you need. All it wants is for you to eat more of this stuff.

Why would a young football player need viagra? Couldn't he just mash some red-peppers or how about a few beers? But no - it gotta be the magic pill. No magic ever happens if it's not a pill.
The case of viagra is perhaps the most blatant example of informed ignorance. The idea you get from the ads is that it's a legit aphrodisiac (as opposed to beer). Hell, it's not. It's more like steroids (football players anyone?) so you still get wood, even when you can't take it anymore. Very misleading - for all parties involved.

And viagra is nothing but a kid's toy compared to some of the other stuff they throw at you - everywhere, all the time. And the sad truth is - those family doctors you go to and demand the pill, they don't really know what it is they give you. They get their "advanced" info from the same Pharma Inc who talks to you on tv - and what do you think it tells your doctor? It's really good, let them eat it.

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A doctor in a documentary on undesirable and unpublicized side-effects of some popular (note the word) drugs, said something wise and important to remember: every drug is always in beta phase and you're the one it's tested on.

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[ There is a viable counter-argument to the above and it comes from Gene's Blog (he's canadian):
This is why I think that our health-care system wouldn't have been so "enviable" if it weren't because we are effectively getting a free-ride from American research. Also, we (and the rest of the free world) are at least partially responsible for the health-care crisis in US due to the higher costs of drugs that we imposed on their citizens. ]






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