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New Year’s Resolutions for the Pharmaceutical Industry

Our Reps Will Wait Their Turn To See The Doctor

They will not be dressed to star in music videos. Prior experience at Hooters or Work Out World will not be sufficient for hiring. They will not call the doctor dude. We understand others waiting to see the doctor are sick.

We Will Leave Poor Countries Alone

We’ll stop conducting clinical trials on people who can’t give informed consent and think they’re getting medical care. We will stop marketing cholesterol drugs, HPV vaccines and lifestyle drugs to poor people whose major health problems are malaria, diarrheal diseases and potable water.

We’ll Stop Extortion Pricing and Looting Medicare/Medicaid

We admit that pricing drugs at $52,321.80 a month (Actimmune), $42,570 a month (Chenoda) or $87,800 for a course of treatment (Harvoni) is extortion. Frankly we’re amazed we have gotten away with it.

We Will Stop Financing Patient Front Groups (“Astroturf”)

We admit the flash mobs that materialize at FDA hearings to beg for an expensive drug to be approved are paid by us. So are groups that swarm Medicaid offices demanding that a cheaper drug not be substituted for an expensive one. We admit we originated the meme that “one out of 4 has mental illness” to sell psych drugs. It’s working.

We Renounce Our Love Affair With Biologics

Sure Humira, Enbrel, Remicade etc. make us multi billions every year but we admit they are the ultimate dupe. Despite our cagey marketing, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic plaque psoriasis and Crohn’s disease are hardly the country’s main health problems. Worse, they invite cancers in the young, frequently-lethal T-cell lymphoma and two types of skin cancer.

We’ll Stop Selling Diseases

We admit we convinced people with real life problems and their doctors that they had depression, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety and assorted “spectrum” disorders and made billions doing it. We further admit that almost no one has exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, shift work sleep disorder and non-24-hour, sleep-wake disorder despite how much we advertise them but hey, people are gullible.

We’ll Stop Selling Risk of Diseases

We admit that scaring people into taking meds for abstract risksthe risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes, cancer, asthma, osteoporosis, menopause and old age–is one of our most successful marketing gambits. Patients never know if the expensive meds they take every day are even working–so we have a lifelong customer.

We’ll Stop Causing Antibiotic Resistance

We acknowledge that the ten million pounds of antibiotics we sell a year to keep caged farm animals alive are going right into people’s dinners and waterways. In addition to creating obesity (why farm animals get them) they also create resistant bacteria which kills thousands a year. We admit we have no interest in creating new antibiotics because there is no money in it compared with drugs people take for life.

We Will Stop Testing Drugs on the Public While the Public is Using Them

We admit that we often market drugs before their safety is known. Think Vioxx, Bextra, Baycol, Trovan, Meridia, Seldane, Hismanal, Darvon, Raxar, Redux, Mylotarg, Lotronex, Propulsid, phenylpropanolamine (PPA), Prexige, phenacetin, Oraflex, Omniflox, Posicor, Serzone and Duract. But hey, even after the injury suits, we still made money.

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Martha Rosenberg is an investigative health reporter. She is the author of  Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health (Prometheus).

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