The Pharma drug rep-MD interactions stun even the most vivid imagination, far worse than even the “ask your doctor” TV appeals to patients, which in their, “Viva Vigra,” musical spots and their mendacities (such as defining viral infections as a “mild side-effect”) are horrendous in their own right. Everyone who believes that “for-profit” and “health care” are somewhat inconsistent ideas---at least the way the enormous profit taking is currently structured--- should read and absorb every word, every tactic described in the aforementioned article. It simply offers some of the best evidence that the current system stands to serve the agendas of the super-rich drug barons as much, if not more, than it serves the health maintenance of the patient; it offers some evidence regarding tangible factors underlying the U.S.’s decline from the best health care in the world, 50 years ago, to, by some measures, one of the least efficient, considering the per-capita cost and less-than-superb outcomes. How good can a healthcare system be, driven by Madison Avenue on the one hand, and by disingenuous play-theatrics on the other, while the percentage of healthcare spending on drug therapy continues to grow annually?
Now picture this scenario in 20 to 50 years. As presaged by the website of the FDA itself, the products being hoisted onto physicians consciousnesses by drug reps will likely include snippets of human DNA, potent little genetic powerhouses capable of some fancy biological-radio tuning. The site ( http://www.fda.gov/cber/gene.htm ) tells us the following: “. . . the amount of gene-related research and development occurring in the United States continues to grow at a fast rate and FDA is actively involved in overseeing this activity. FDA has received many requests from medical researchers and manufacturers to study gene therapy and to develop gene therapy products. Such research could lead to gene-based treatments for cancer, cystic fibrosis, heart disease, hemophilia, wounds, infectious diseases such as AIDS, and graft-versus-host disease.”
And more, undoubtedly. Used wisely, judiciously, using genes as therapy, to replace or enhance biological functionalities lost or diminished either through heredity (cystic fibrosis) or through disease (cancer) could be a great boon. But the story could readily grow from there; what about creating physiological advantages----athletic or otherwise---through gene therapy. It’s easy to scoff at such “brave new world” scenarios, but picture gene therapy, likely very expensive, in the context of our current for-profit healthcare scenario, with the decisions about its application to some extent determined by interactions between the Big Pharma patent-holders of the gene sequences and the MDs who would serve as conduit to the potential patient population. Is it not daunting enough to have non-psychiatric MDs freely, even loose-cannon-like, prescribing Prozac and other anti-depressants, motivated by the just-described system of drug rep-to-physician gift-giving? Imagine this scenario translating to genes, potent snippets of DNA, as the product to be aggressively marketed in this fashion. Should we persist on our current course, fail to take this opportunity to follow the world’s other first-world nations into some form of universal health care (where profit-motive is at least somewhat diminished), this troubling scenario may well be a portion of the inheritance that we pass on to the next several generations!