Thursday, February 26, 2009

OCD for profit?

Pharmaceutical companies have perfected the American dream. They have created a market and are now capitalizing on it. They work hard to get people obsessed about a 'disease' and then they charge them for the cure. And now they've either run out of new medicines  to invent to treat new diseases they've invented (or legitimized - see ED and fibromyalgia ) or they're just getting greedy (or have they always been and I'm just now noticing!) or maybe they are smelling the fires of 'the barbarians at the gate' - a la government-sponsored healthcare. In any instance, they certainly are capitalizing on 'unintended positive consequences', aka side effects that can be marketed. Used to be Viagra, by another name, was a drug to help with pulmonary hypertension. A disease, for sure, but not one with enough victims to really make a buck. But guess what happened on the way to improving the circulation in your lungs? Voila! Viagra. The rest is history - they've already done the research and development and proven that it's at least safe enough to try, if not use regularly, on humans. So now it's all about marketing. And you think I use reverse psychology? When did we get so gullible that a warning of a four hour erection is used to sell something? How hard was that? No pun intended.
There are others - recently the drug for hair loss, Propecia, was mentioned as a prevention for prostate cancer, sort of a reverse of the Viagra story, going from cosmetic to internal medicine. Now there is a glaucoma treatment with a curious side effect - it makes eyelashes grow thick and dark. Which is reminiscent of the first marketable side effect of which I was aware - Minoxidil, a blood pressure drug, had the nasty side effect of making patients grow hair in places both good and bad. But applied topically to specific areas it caused hair growth in just that area. And what do you get? Rogaine.
OK - so they have created markets from discontent, usually over appearance or performance. Is that really bad? Doesn't everyone have the right to be pain-free, have a full head of hair, an erection and great lashes? This is America, after all.

1 comment:

the.fortes said...

Your posts are funny and frightening. You should get a tour going around the US. I laughed really hard (and became slightly concerned over what our medical care is coming to) over your last posts.