The pharmaceutical industry is constantly a point of contention for me. I continue to have ambivalence regarding its worth or maybe its motives. I am aware of the benefits that certain drugs impart. They can be as simple as treating a headache, rash or infection, to managing a chronic condition > improving quality of life > preventing the chronic disease from becoming a less treatable one, to curing cancer, dissolving a blood clot and many things in between.
My life and the lives of those I love have been enhanced if not saved, with medicines, the positive side of the drug industry.
However, because I keep track of financial news on drug companies, I am acutely aware of the free market, for profit side of our medicine making. In this context, it doesn't feel like an altruistic "save lives" venture, but a capitalist driven "make money" one. And making money is OK! The investment and the risk for companies is great. I understand and that is why I am conflicted.
In order for companies to profit, more people need to take the drug, the drug needs to be used long term and it needs to be a multipurpose drug. This results in a great number of people taking drugs they do not need and people taking drugs for longer than is medically necessary.
Currently, some of the big drugs - ones that treat conditions a majority of Americans have (like high cholesterol), are coming off patent. Companies stand to lose billions when generics enter the market. This is so scary for shareholders and CEOs that one blogger referred to this and the next year as Pharmageddon. That declaration speaks clearly of the profit making drive of the companies and their investors.