Geeks will appreciate the end of this post, I think. Michael Buckbee posted a link to an article by Malcolm Gladwell a couple of years ago on the pharmaceutical industry, which I found to be well-presented. An underlying theme seemed to be less about blaming the drug companies for high prices – and casting light on consumers for (a) not thinking for themselves, (b) yielding too much control and decision-making power to the media, (c) being equally a part of the problem.
The fact that volume matters more than price also means that the emphasis of the prescription-drug debate is all wrong. We’ve been focussed [sic] on the drug manufacturers. But decisions about prevalence, therapeutic mix, and intensity aren’t made by the producers of drugs. They’re made by the consumers of drugs.
Remember when gas was .99 a gallon here in the United States? Those were the days. Remember when that jumped to $1.50, and we swore we’d change our habits if it went any higher? Remember when we thought we’d do something different when it topped $3.00? Even when (not if) gasoline hits $5.00 per gallon, I’m certain we’ll still accept the price.
Addicts create demand, and drug pushers are more than happy to feed our addictions. An addict does not “get clean” by complaining about the drug or its supplier, nor does an addict seek salvation through the source of the drug.
To stop the problem (the drug, the price), you must stop supporting it. And yes, Oil is as much of a drug as any given pharmaceutical’s gelcap.
The core problem in bringing drug spending under control, in other words, is persuading the users and buyers and prescribers of drugs to behave rationally, and the reason we’re in the mess we’re in is that, so far, we simply haven’t done a very good job of that.
When members of society overwhelmingly maintain an external locus of control, this is the outcome. The doctors trust the FDA, the patients trust the doctors (and the media, who are OVERTLY supported by the pharmaceuticals), and the pharmaceuticals trust that nobody’s going to bother thinking for themselves. To this end, there is no end in sight for this pricing madness – and expecting the FDA to intervene in the matter is again reinforcing the dangers of maintaining an external locus of control.
We will continue swallowing our pills, paying any price for the “privilege.”
For sellers to behave responsibly, buyers must first behave intelligently. And if we want to create a system where millions of working and elderly Americans don’t have to struggle to pay for prescription drugs that’s also up to us. We could find it in our hearts to provide all Americans with adequate health insurance. It is only by the most spectacular feat of cynicism that our political system’s moral negligence has become the fault of the pharmaceutical industry.
I’d argue that the two are tied together: America’s political system and politicians (on all sides) and the pharmaceutical drug companies. Your beloved Hillary Clinton is as corrupt as your beloved Rudy Giuliani – as is every “leading” 2008 American presidential candidate. You’re an absolute moron to accept that as “just a fact of life” or to (worse yet) believe otherwise. If you want the drive-by version, there’s The Skeleton Closet. If you want a much better researched version, there’s the Special Interest Fact Sheet from Citizen.org.
While the following argument was not raised by Gladwell’s article, I believe it speaks to the dangers in blindly trusting the FDA (read: government) to make “health” decisions for us.
The government tells us is that it’s perfectly legal for manufactured drugs to be sold for public consumption at any price, but it’s absolutely illegal for organic drugs to be purchased and/or consumed by anybody for any reason. The war on drugs is more like a war on control – and seeking any kind of control is a tantamount to seeking illusion. One could argue that using marijuana for medicinal reasons is unjustified – but let he who hath not medicated cast the first pill.
And lest you throw the dangers of “illegal” drugs in anybody’s face, you might bother to read into the possible side effects from today’s “legal” drugs first. Thank you, I’ll take my chances with mother nature – and continue to point out America’s ongoing illogically-accepted hypocrisy.
Mind you, I’m not saying that prescription drugs are unwelcome – but I am saying that your stance on body-altering substances should either be all-in or all-out. Those who want to do something to their own body will find a way to do it at any price, and they shouldn’t be judged for that so long as that action does not directly impact another human being. If anything here is immoral, it’s the action of imposing your own (internal or external) locus of control upon others.
Trust yourself, and nobody else – and support like-minded individuals. If you’re tired of paying higher prices for anything, find alternative ways of achieving (roughly) the same outcome. This is what has motivated users to adopt open source software, what drove people to circumvent content delivery mechanisms that music labels and Hollywood officially delivered, and what will hopefully push citizens to understand that they can change this country’s direction by making “radical” decisions for themselves first.