The Ugly Side of Pharma Economics

Just how big or how influential is big pharma? Well to begin with, big pharma which is a group of handful of pharmaceutical giants accounts for over $100 billion in revenue. They generated $10 billion in profit and paid a humungous $2.7 billion towards lobbying. The above statistics make it clear that big pharma also has big influence.

However, making a lot of money or having a lot of influence are not bad things inherently. The problem arises when companies start toeing the ethical line to keep the profits going. That is exactly what has happened at big pharma. A noble profession has been hijacked by a bunch of profiteers and the whole world in paying the price. In this article, we will explore some of the most unethical measures undertaken by big pharma.

Rising Cost of Drugs

The cost of prescription drugs in the United States is alarmingly high. In fact, the average United States citizen pays at least 50% more for their drugs than people of developed countries do. This is the reason why the Canadian pharmaceutical industry next to the border is thriving. What they do is technically smuggling. However, the purchase of drugs from Canadian pharmacies to American consumers is rampant.

This anomaly has happened after George W Bush signed an order that prevented the government from negotiating drug prices with big pharma. Why would George W Bush sign such a devastating order is perplexing. However, it becomes less perplexing when you see the lobbying funds and campaign donations that big pharma has generously contributed to.

Bribing politicians to get their way is just the tip of the unethical iceberg at big pharma.

Privatizing Government Research

The drug industry is divided into two kinds of drugs i.e. patented and generic. Patented drugs have no competition and allow the companies to charge more. The idea is that the research and development costs incurred by the company should be allowed to be recovered. However, nowadays pharma companies are not doing any research themselves. Instead, the money for research is being spent by the United States government.

If the research fails, then the government bears the cost. However, if he research is successful, big pharma buys the patents in auction. Then they continue to profiteer by adding unreasonable markups to the products. If pharmaceutical companies are not conducting research, why do we need them at all? The government could sell the drugs at a far lower price itself. Once again, big pharma lobbying has worked hard to make this arrangement work wherein losses are public and profits are private.

Doctor Kickbacks

Big pharma has been repeatedly said to be bribing doctors. In fact the competition between them is not based on price or quality or any other attribute. Rather, the company that can market most effectively to doctors is the company that will generate the highest sales. This has been cited as being unethical by several consumer groups. There is even a law being proposed that requires the doctor to disclose all their kickbacks to patients so that the patients can understand if their advice may be biased,

Sponsored Research

Not only has big pharma been buying research for free from the government, but they have also been manipulating the research. Critics have regularly condemned that most of the research papers that are presented at medical conventions are simply pharmaceutical funded. They therefore do not provide the best and cheapest way to cure a disease. Instead, they provide the most expensive and harmful way to treat a disease.

The ethics of big pharma have been called into question several times. They have been subject to several lawsuits and have had to pay several million dollars in settlements. However, their tendency to influence research to favor their cause has only increased. No research ever shows how consumption of medicines can be reduced. Instead people are medicated more and more and are made sick by the several side effects.

Disease Mongering

Pharmaceutical companies are also known for disease mongering. This means that they have simply invented several diseases which do not exist. Psychological symptoms such as moodiness and irritability are being given fancy names such as ADHD and addictive drugs are being sold to cure them.

In most cases, the cure is worse than the disease itself and gets the patient hooked on to these drugs. The inability of these patients to lead a normal life once they ingest these substances meant to cure them is a huge black mark on the moral report card of these pharma companies

Defaming Alternate Therapies

Allopathic medicine is not the only field of medicine. There are several other medical systems. Nowadays, they are called alternate therapies. They include fields such as Homeopathy, Ayurveda, Acupuncture etc. in reality, these therapies may be more effective in the treatment of many chronic lifestyle diseases. However, allopathic doctors will defame these therapies by providing wrong and misleading information.

To sum it all up, pharma companies are raking in big bucks. However, there is a huge human cost to these profits. The extremely questionable ethics of these pharma companies is rapidly transforming them into subjects of mass hatred.


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