10 Biggest Lies Drug Companies Tell You
TRIPS' greatest weapon TRIPS is its yawn-inducing legalese. It takes a few years of law school to truly understand this mumbo jumbo. That's why most people are content with the one-line explanation: "TRIPS is there to protect the intellectual work of artists, singers, writers, etc. all over the globe." It is true, TRIPS does guarantee that a book written in the U.S. can't be photocopied and resold in India. But TRIPS also applies to patents, and specifically, pharmaceutical patents. This means that a drug developed in the U.S. can't be remade for a cheaper price in India.
Why is this bad? TRIPS guarantees that multi-billion dollar companies have that same 20-year global monopoly on lifesaving drugs. Big Pharma claims that it needs these global protections in order to fund further research. The thing is: most of the world can't afford brand name drugs, which typically cost 10 times more than generic varieties and are no more effective.
Though certain exceptions are made for drugs that combat diseases like malaria, India is currently embroiled in a legal battle with several large corporations about intellectual rights to anti-cancer drugs. If the defendants win, drugs proven to fight kidney and liver cancer will become 30 times more expensive and therefore out of the reach of all but 1% of India's population.
7. They Don't Bribe Doctors
Between 2008 and 2011 at least 15 pharmaceutical and medical-device companies have paid $6.5 billion to settle accusations of marketing fraud or kickbacks. Of course, it is illegal for drug companies to pay doctors to prescribe their medication over others. As Rod J. Rosensetin, U.S. attorney for the District of Maryland says, "Health-care decisions must be based solely upon what is best for the individual patient and not on which pharmaceutical company is paying the doctor the biggest kickback."
Of course, drug companies found a way around this "moral dilemma": they pay doctors… not to prescribe specific drugs, but to attend conferences and speak about specific drugs. Does this mean that a doctor who earns the price of a new car in one weekend for extolling the virtues of a certain painkiller will be more likely to prescribe that painkiller in the future? The question is currently under consideration by a federal health commission.
8. You Shouldn't Go au Natural
As a reaction to a world that is too processed and preserved, many people are choosing to go organic and holistic. Most grocers welcome the shift back to nature – after all, organics cost more than food soaked in pesticides. Drug companies, on the other hand, stand to lose billions if consumers chose to spend $10 on St. John's Wort rather than $1,000 on, say, anti-depressants. Instead of attacking herbal remedies directly, Big Pharma has invested significant resources in lobbying against natural medicine on both sides of the pond and has often gotten results.