Ebola is not a “new” disease. It’s been in existence for centuries at least, perhaps as an endemic disease that existed among certain African animals for a long time. HIV is much the same, another endemic African disease that existed among primates before eventually “jumping” to human beings. Ebola has been known for decades now, but since it was a disease that killed only “third world” people, there was no incentive to seek a cure by the profit seeking drug companies. No drug company would spend millions of dollars creating a vaccine when those who were likely to become victims of Ebola had no means to pay for it. Drug companies are in business (like any other business) to make a profit from what they do. If you can create an expensive new drug, get it patented, you can not only cover the cost of the research, but sell it for many times what it actually costs to produce it. The price will only fall when your patent expires and generic drug makers can produce it for a small fraction of what it previously sold for as a “brand name” medical drug. For example, the popular anti-cholesterol drug “Lipitor” cost a couple hundred dollars a month as a “brand name” drug. Today one can actually get it for “free” from the Meijer chain of “superstores” as the generic atorvastatin calcium. The production cost is now so low that it is given away to encourage people to shop there! Proof if any is needed as to the cost of production relative to what the drug originally sold for! A small percent of its selling price.
What this means is that if a “cure” for a disease cannot be produced at a good profit, there will be no “cure” offered. Additionally, should a drug company discover a “cure” that cannot be patented, they will likely conceal the fact that there is a “cure”! There is some justification in that without a worth while profit, there is little reason to do research except as a “humanitarian” charitable action. This is why we shouldn’t expect “cures” for diseases where a good profit cannot be made from the drug or treatment as a rule. Especially as if there is already a “profitable” treatment available, those who now make their living from treating a disease are unlikely to switch to something from which they can earn little if any profit. Sometimes public support is sufficient if the taxpayers are willing to pay for it. This was the case with the polio vaccine, which was created through government paid research. The individual responsible for the discovery (Jonas Salk) did refuse to allow his product to be “sold to the highest bidder”, but Dr. Salk was probably one in a billion who would do so…
For example, there is some evidence that a low cost generic drug used to treat high blood pressure is also capable (from tests on mice) of “curing” or reducing diabetes. However the drug companies that make injectionible insulin make a great deal of profit off of doing so. Sufficient levels that they can get Congress to offer them a great degree of “protection” from any possible “competition”. After all, the definition of an “honest politician” is someone who when bribed, remains bribed even if someone else offers them a yet larger bribe… This is so commonly accepted today that no one now thinks anything of it. Drug companies “bribe” doctors to prescribe their product through “under the table” payments. This is one reason why American health care is the world’s most expensive. Anyone with access to a good state wide public library system (as I am lucky enough to enjoy) can find this out this fact for themselves. The drug companies are in business to make money, just like almost any other kind of business. Nor are doctors anymore likely to put your interests first over their own than you would expect from any of the other licensed professions and occupations. There are enough “jokes” about lawyers to leave no doubt what people think of them, and the same holds true with all those occupations where someone stands to gain over someone else. We don’t expect “benevolence” from business, nor should we expect it from anyone else who is in “business” of providing a good or service for profit. It is how they make their living. There is even enough evidence that our “men of God” are quite willing to exploit those who believe in them… It is unfortunate that it is this way, but most likely the trait has existed since the very dawn of the human race. Observation has actually shown that even animals will seek their benefit over another of their species, so it is likely that seeking your gain by such means dates back to the dawn of life itself here on Earth. Since drugs cannot be legally sold without FDA approval, even if someone was to discover a “cure” for an existing disease using an existing FDA approved drug, the FDA would have to authorize such a use. Effectively the government and doctors have a legal power to keep people from treating themselves with a drug that is “legal for use” for something else. Just another way that we are deprived of protecting our health and welfare by both government and the licensed profit seeking professions who are effectively “parasites” living off of us!
Nor does it appear that elected politicians can be relied upon to serve the interests of the people over the interests of profit seeking business. We have plenty of examples that this is so. The professions also buy “protection” from the government from possible competition. The tens of millions of dollars (an estimated “FOUR BILLION” in our recent election) that end up in paying for political campaigns leave little doubt that our Representatives, Senators, and everyone else is “for sale to the highest bidder”. Even if we were to switch to a system where our representatives were selected by lottery from the general population, eliminating elections, we would still have a problem with those seeking political favors and offering briefcases of cash to get what they want. No one has ever invented (yet) a form of government that can’t be “corrupted” by those seeking political favors. All countries, states, localities have people in positions of power that can be made to “see reason” by those willing to pay for such services… There may however be a solution to this problem which will be the topic of my next post.
Jerome Bigge (firstname.lastname@example.org)