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Drug Companies: Not As Evil As Most People Think.

Drug Companies: Not As Evil As Most People Think.

The pharmaceutical industry’s relationship with the American public is strange.  A lot of people hate them out of ignorance and a lot of people who hate them are alive today because of something that was invented on the thin dime of a pharmaceutical company.  It’s a goofy paradox.

The average response will be, “Thin dime?  What the hell is Damien talking about?  Pharmaceutical companies make billions and billions of dollars and they rob from the poor!”

Before you come to my house with pitchforks and torches,   I want to tell you a few stories about how this drug company thing works and why the public has been brainwashed by dopey people into thinking that the drug companies are evil monsters.  It all started when AIDS first began to decimate the gay population in the USA back in the early 1980s.

The first person people like to lay blame on for the spread of AIDS is Ronald Reagan.  Radical groups rallied the special interests into believing that President Reagan didn’t care about people with AIDS.   Those afflicted with this disease, which at the time had no name, screamed that since it was a gay disease that only killed gay men, Reagan was content to sit back and watch the disease kill off all the fags.  Not true.

How could Reagan have dismissed a mysterious disease when the greatest medical minds of the time didn’t even know what the hell was happening?   Any medical scientist with a 1980brain knew that no disease would discriminate based on sexual orientation, but what were they going to do?   It’s pretty certain that President Reagan and his people talked to the great medical minds of the time and the best they could come up with was a  shrug of the shoulders.  How can you do anything about something that you don’t understand?   People wanted to know, “Where is the cure?”  “What are the drug companies doing to help?”

Let me give you a quick example of how frantic this all was.   Keep in mind however that I do understand the passion and desperation of those afflicted and those who had loved ones dying from this mystery disease, but you have to be levelheaded  — you have to be Horatio Hornblower in the face of storms like these because level heads prevail.  You might go down with the ship, but history will remember you fondly as the level headed-leader who went down with the ship.

Okay,  let’s say that George Washington was set upon by angry wives and families who demanded that their dying soldier boys were not getting the antibiotics they needed to cure their infected wounds.  Because the festering wounded didn’t get the antibiotics that would have cured them, thousands died and George Washington was a no good son of a bitch who didn’t care about anything or anybody.  He just wanted to win the war.

But wait, there was no such thing as an antibiotic in George Washington’s time.   He wasn’t an evil son of a bitch — he just didn’t know anything about infections or sanitation or that all around the battlefield their were fungal spores that if cultured properly would cure just about all of the festering wounds of soldiers who hadn’t been killed by the immediate trauma imparted by the musket balls themselves.

So then it became apparent that AIDS ( not yet officially called AIDS ) was spread by anal sex — sometimes with multiple partners, and it was coming out of the gay bath-houses.  That little bit of evidence was the first proof that there was a tainted well  — you all remember the story about typhoid and that tainted well, right?  Anyway, the tainted wells were the bath houses in NYC, San Francisco and elsewhere.  That was a fact.  The great minds of the time figured that it had to be a virus or sub viral particle and it was being spread sexually — then came the lies.

Gay organizations stepped on their own feet by trying to put a heterosexual face on AIDS.  If in fact they had shut down the bath-houses and gay men stopped having unprotected anal sex, the disease would have stopped spreading — period.  Sounds very right wing, right?  If gay men stopped having unprotected sex with multiple partners, the disease would stop spreading.  As right wing as it sounds, it also happens to be true. AIDS had hit the North American continent as early as 1965 or perhaps even as early as 1959, but it didn’t get a foothold because it never reached the farmer’s market — the bath house.

But of course it was not cool to say promiscuous gay sex was spreading the disease.  It was better to point to the grandmother in Peoria who also had the disease.  This kid of avoidance and denial set back the AIDS machine at least 5 years.

Okay now you will scream about the intravenous drug addicts — bad argument.

IV drug addicts are not normal people and for the most part, normal people don’t mess around with them.   They hang together and shoot up together and they die together.  If AIDS was a disease of IV drug users only, it would eventually have hit a brick wall and stopped spreading.

On the other hand, gay men are normal people — they lead normal lives and they interact with other normal people.  Part of the normal activities of a gay man is to have sexual relations with other gay men.  At the time, however, how could you stop a normal person from having sex?  The danger of death and dying didn’t scare a lot of gay men.  Many thought that the concept of a virus that was spread by gay sex was come kind of government conspiracy and often the gay man who avoided sex and warned his friends about the dangers of unprotected anal sex were branded as  sell-outs — modern day versions of a gay Uncle Tom.  If only they had listened to these Uncle Toms.

So the drug companies and research scientists ( the two work hand and glove) discovered that it was a virus and in a year or so they had one drug that seemed to suppress that virus — but it really didn’t do much of anything.  They knew it didn’t but they had to cater to vox populi and get this drug (AZT) out there. In spite of its inefficacy,  in later years it was found to protect unborn babies from catching the virus from their infected mothers so the end did justify the means in that case.  They also pushed out another useless drug called ddi.

Now, here is where the image of the drug company as an evil entity comes along.

AIDS started spreading everywhere — but for the most part a lot of those “everywheres” could be stemmed.

People who got the disease from blood transfusions were the easiest to help.  It was simply a case of, “Doctor it hurts when I do that — then don’t do that.”

In other cases, like IV drug users, clean needles would stop the disease, but how are you going to get every messed up IV drug user to come in and get clean needles?

Lastly,  gay men were still having unprotected sex (as they still do today) and the disease continued to spread like wildfire.  It seemed to NYC city officials that even the most devout Catholic gays would not even give up anal sex for Lent.

By 1987 the drug companies were scrambling like crazy people to try to find a cure for this disease.  They discovered that the disease was, as previously believed, to be caused by a retrovirus.  They spent billions upon billions of drug company dollars trying to crack the genetic code of this virus in an attempt to stop it.  In 1997 they succeeded.

How could these companies who employ thousands upon thousands of people get that money back?  If they gave the drugs away, which would be nice, they would go out of business and we’d all be thrust back into the trenches with George Washington.  If the government were to make and distribute the drug there would be mass corruption and ineptitude the likes of which would boggle the mind.

Eventually some kind of deal was reached because level heads prevailed and now in the USA, most people who need anti-retrovirals, the drugs that suppress AIDS, get those drugs.  Some people fall through the cracks but thankfully many of the gay advocacy groups who hampered the truth about AIDS 30 years ago, are now the very same people who work tirelessly to make sure that no sick person goes uncared for or untreated — see?  Level heads — like I said.

There was nothing wrong with these “nutty” gay activists back in the early 80s, they were just desperate, but people today who still blame Ronald Reagan and his administration for the spread of AIDS are just plain silly.  Like I said, it was like blaming George Washington for tetanus and gangrene.

Drugs save our lives every single day.  It’s hard to believe that almost everybody alive today was treated at one time or another with a drug that might have saved their life.  Appendectomies are no big deal, but if you don’t have post-op and pre-op antibiotics, you can get a septic infection and die — we take all of this for granted.  When you get sick and you are treated with drugs,  you must remember that somebody who went through a lot more school than you did — the kid you called a nerd in high school —  worked his nerdy ass off  in a laboratory to find the drug that helps you pull through.   He didn’t earn a fat paycheck either.

Okay, so a drug company invents a drug that blocks certain nerve receptors in your body that cause you to have hypertension (high blood pressure) and it works great to treat the hypertension and the right sided heart failure that will eventually ensue.  They spent $700 million developing this drug and got past a million safety hurdles set before them by the FDA — hurdles that were rightfully moved out of the way to push new AIDS meds through.   But then, after they spend all this money, they only get a few years before the government takes away their patent and allows any pill producing company to produce that drug as a generic.  How is the original drug company supposed to get the money back?

Is Roche Diagnostics ( a huge pharma drug company) supposed to work for free?  There is a lot of unfairness pushed upon the drug companies and they have to be tough to survive.  Drug companies are a lot like airlines — they might look all big and glitzy, but they’re all just a few paychecks away from being homeless corporations.

So the next time your grandpa gets a triple bypass, kindly note that the drugs that keep him alive before, during and after the surgery, were invented by people who worked really hard at their nerdy jobs.  Don’t take it for granted and yell at the doctor,  “Well isn’t their a drug that can control the infection in his chest?”   YES THERE IS — but that drug is now a generic and while the cost of it has gone from $20.00 a dose to $1.00, grandpa’s hospital bill has not gone down one cent — as a matter of fact, it’s probably gone up about 1000% — now THAT’S nasty!  Grandpa will probably survive the post-op infection complication, but nobody is making a dime off the drug that saves him.

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