Re: capitalist religion (was: NANO: _Forbes_ cover story)

From: Technotranscendence (
Date: Wed Jul 18 2001 - 08:29:20 MDT

On Tuesday, July 17, 2001 8:28 PM Miriam English wrote:
> > Exactly why was that a huge commercial success for Astra, if they could
> > have gone on selling palliatives for ulcers instead?
> > Now the market for ulcer treatments is much smaller.
> I don't know of any ulcer cures marketed here in Oz. It has been known for
> maybe a decade, maybe two, that the pylori(sp?) bacteria are the cause of
> stomach ulcers,

The problem is the bacteria only causes some ulcers. A lot of physicians
and patients jump to the conclusion that they causes all ulcers and that
treating for them will cure all ulcers with few exceptions.

> but I haven't seen anything other than quackery about them
> at chemists (acid-neutralising alkalis, clay drinks, etc.) and quack
> palliatives are advertised heavily on TV and in the print media.
> However I am not a doctor or a chemist (I'm a lowly artist) so I can't
> really say cure are not available. I will be stepping out today to go to a
> computer club, so will drop in on a chemist and ask about this.

Generally, though not always, ulcers have a dietary or other lifestyle
cause. Most people, however, would rather pop pills than make big lifestyle

> >You are likely thinking of why so little is spent on malaria vaccines and
> >cures for other tropical diseases. That is a real problem, but the issue
> >isn't that cures are unprofitable (they aren't) but that it is hard to
> >any profit commensurable with the investment in the current regulatory
> >climate. The base costs of pharmaceutical development are high, and if
> >try to get FDA approval or something like it they will be even greater.
> >That will make the potential market in the developing countries small,
> >given the latest anti-patent moves on pharmaceuticals you might end up
> >funding competitors instead. If you just sell something less well tested
> >cheaply or do the tests in the developing nations you will be crucified
> >the media as a ruthless profiteer exploiting the poor. It is a lose-lose
> >situation which any sensible corporation will try to stay out from,
> >it to far less well funded organisations. Too bad.
> Yes. This is part of my point. Capitalism fails here.
> It is not really the fault of regulations either. The regulations are
> for a very good reason: to try to eliminate unethical business practices
> and honest mistakes (think thalidomide).

It's funny that thalidomide should be brought up, since the FDA first
approved it.:) Also, the FDA has kept life saving drugs off the market as
well as approving of life threatening ones. See "An Inside Look at the FDA'
s Sordid Drug Approval Process" at

This is merely one example -- the FDA's approval of Rezulin. FDA approved
drugs kill tens of thousands of people in the US every year. (See

The FDA also does not freedom of speech. See "FDA Regulation:At Odds --
Again -- with Your Health Freedom" at

> And those costs would come about
> one way or another eventually, perhaps by total distrust of all medical
> companies and associated loss of sales, or by insurance costs after
> up disasters, or by general damage to the drug-buying public.

The FDA creates an aura of credibility which lulls the drug using public
into a false sense of security. Instead of being informed consumers, most
people become trusting consumers -- because they think, like you, the FDA
does good work and has their best interests in mind.

> What it comes down to is that the phamaceutical companies are motivated by
> money. That is neither a good nor a bad thing. But it does mean that
> humanity can't depend upon capitalism alone.

And FDA regulators are motivated by? Money! Status! Power! This is not
to be totally cynical. I don't think that every last person at the FDA is
corrupt, but the system itself definitely allows and even encourages
corruption. A lot of FDA regulators retire to become... high paid
consultants for big pharmacueticals. (The same sort of thing happens
between the military and arms merchants.)

> This is where non-profit organisations shine. They help humanity where the
> money won't lure capitalism.

At least one big drug company -- Burroughs Wellcome -- is a nonprofit.


Daniel Ust
    See "The Many Births of Free Verse" at:

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