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MagicalMystery's avatar

Do you think there are less chances of finding cures or vaccines for diseases now, since pharmaceutical companies make more money maintaining people on meds for a lifetime?

Asked by MagicalMystery (895 points ) April 28th, 2010

Do you think that since it’s more profitable keeping people on a lifetime of medications rather than finding a cure for diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, MS, Parkinson’s, etc., there is at present, less chance of finding cures for major illnesses?

So many elderly people are now maintained for decades on very expensive medications, it seems as if there is little incentive to find cures. What do you think?

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23 Answers

CMaz's avatar

It’s always about the dollar. Sad but true.

bandeka's avatar

the “finding” of these cures is also very profitable.

rpm_pseud0name's avatar

What’s worse, is that if they did find a cure, they would try to figure out the best way to squeeze every little profitable cent out of it before figuring out how to give it to everyone who needs it.

Coloma's avatar

I don’t think we SHOULD find a cure for everything.

Jesus…we are SUPPOSED to grow old and DIE! lololol

Be happy with the time you get and move on….make room for the next circulation of life.

CMaz's avatar

I am a stock holder. You find a cure. My stock goes down the toilet.

Can’t have that.

DominicX's avatar

I’m not much of a conspiracy theorist. It certainly is a possibility, but I doubt it. I think most people want to find a cure.

What if the person who’s profiting from the medications suddenly comes down with cancer? Wouldn’t they then focus on the cure? What if someone really close to them had a disease that does not yet have a cure? I find it hard to believe that everyone in the pharmaceutical business is corrupt and has no close affiliation with any illness like that.

I think you’d have to talk to people actually involved in pharmaceuticals.

Kayak8's avatar

Actually, I think the lifetime of medications is a result of how we do health insurance in the US as an example. If company A is only going to care for me while I work for this employer and they have pretty good evidence that I will move to a different job and a different insurance company at some point and from there to a different job, etc., there is absolutely no motivation to put money into preventive efforts.

If one insurance company knew that they would have me on their rolls for my lifetime, there is a very different motivation to put money into real prevention activities so that I cost them less over my lifespan.

As for big pharma—the GlaxoSmithKline advertisement that says, “Today’s medicines funding tomorrow’s miracles” pretty much sums it up: We jack up the price of what you are taking to invest in R&D for what other people may need to take in the future and to keep our company profitable . . .

CMaz's avatar

“What if the person who’s profiting from the medications suddenly comes down with cancer?”

Minority.

rpm_pseud0name's avatar

@Coloma I don’t think we are talking about age defying cures (which I agree is a little bit wasteful), we are talking about cures that would benefit children too. To tell a child with cancer, ‘tough it out, we all die’, just seems a bit ridiculous.

Coloma's avatar

@rpmpseudonym

I hear you…just saying that everyone has to die of SOMETHING, of course saving a childs life is a beautiful thing, but, generally speaking, I think our culture is obsessed with immortality, youth,fear of death.
How much is healthy and noble vs. how much is the byproduct of the gross narcissism that is so all pervasive and growing worse.

deni's avatar

yeah, i think because companies like that make sooo much money on medicine and its such a big part of our economy now (i dont know numbers but im assuming it plays a huge role), there is way less of a push to find cures for things, or better treatments. kind of like cigarettes…they’ll never be illegal because even though they kill people, they bring in way too much money, and like @ChazMaz said it’s all about the benjamins.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

Unfortunately, the motivations work out this way. If the US would go to a cradle-to-grave single payer system, not associated with employment, things might be different. Such a fix would also involve tort reform balanced with mandates on pharmaceutical companies on product costs. The “cures” may have to be sought by state funded entities, as is other research that has no immediate prospect of profitability.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

ABSOLUTELY NOT! There’s a huge flaw in your theory, which is the fact that after a certain amount of time, pharmaceutical companies lose their patents, and generic manufacturers begin to make and market the same drugs at much lower costs, so pharmaceuticals don’t make any money at all on medicines whose patents have expired, thus they have a huge incentive to continually develop newer better medicines.

Coloma's avatar

And a short 100 years ago or so, you sat on the porch, sipped a little opiated elixer for your old bones or whatever ailed you and died at home, naturally. lol

If you were wealthy you paid the doctor for his housecall, if not, you paid with a few eggs and a chicken and a basket of potatos.

Insurance?

Man…WTF happened!

CyanoticWasp's avatar

I’m astonished at the outright cynicism of the responses. How do y’all manage to hold a job with any company making any product if you really believe this kind of nonsense about pharmaceuticals?

I agree that “Big Pharma” and every other for-profit corporation in the world is interested in making profit. I not only admit and agree to that, but I maintain that the only purpose they have for existing is to make profits for their owners and investors.

But I don’t believe that pharmaceutical companies have a vested interest in “nearly” curing or “simply prolonging life” so that they can maintain built-in markets and milk patients for every dollar that they’re worth, and specifically and intentionally prevent cures.

Simply astonishing.

Of course, many of you also believe in the existence of the 100-mile-per-gallon (and affordable) automobile engines that have been deliberately quashed by the cabal of auto and oil companies. Give me a break.

mattbrowne's avatar

If that were true, how do you explain the invention and availability of corrective eye surgery hurting the business of selling glasses and contact lenses? In free market societies if some companies do not research on cures eventually they will lose all their business to some (new) competitor who will.

Kayak8's avatar

@La_chica_gomela Actually there is not a flaw in the theory. Here are some examples:

Abbott has a drug called Norvir used in the treatment of HIV. It has to be refrigerated. They had hopes that the drug would be used in a certain dosage and priced it accordingly. Over time, it turned out that 1/5 the dose actually helped make the other drugs a patient was taking be more effective. Abbott did two things—1) they raised the price of the drug 500% and 2) they created a aversion that didn’t require refrigeration, but did not make it available (until recently) except as part of a combination with another drug they created (Kaletra).

Then there are Combivir and Trizivir. The drug company knew their drug (AZT) was going to go off patent and be available as a generic. So they put AZT with one other drug in a single pill to make Combivir and with two other drugs in a single pill to make Trizivir. Obviously patients would rather take fewer drugs, so although AZT is available as a generic, very few people take it.

Then there is the entire history of AZT itself which was originally developed, using government dollars, as a failed cancer drug. When HIV came along, it showed some efficacy, so BurroughsWellcome (at the time) fought to have the patent for 17 years at the price the market would bear for something that was developed with tax dollars and sat on the shelf.

Then there is Lexapro which is pharmaceutically the same as its predecessor, Celexa. The drug reps gave samples to docs who started their patients on Lexapro when Celexa was going off patent.

It goes on and on. If consumers are well informed, they can avoid some of the nonsense but many folks just take what is prescribed without awareness that their doctor got money from this or that drug company. The good news is there has been a recent change in the law that limits what drug companies can do to persuade doctors to use their products.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

@Kayak8: What are those stories supposed to prove? They don’t say anything about cures versus treatments.

Kayak8's avatar

@La_chica_gomela I was responding to your post above in which you indicated that drug companies don’t continue to make money when patents expire and was giving examples of the underhanded things they do to continue to make money even after a patent expires by manipulating the market, not necessarily inventing new and better drugs.

KungFuPanda's avatar

I doubt if we will ever find cures to diseases like cancer, diabetes or multiple sclerosis in conventional medicine. If somebody here is ready to believe a person who was diagnosed with ‘incurable’ disease and then got well through alternative therapies.. then here it is: I have come to believe that a lot of so-called ‘scientific research’, ‘technological innovations’ and all that are, a lot of the times, purely money-driven in some form or other. Cancer is a 3 billion dollar market (please check it, I could be wrong). Finding a cure (if we are heading with our current lifestyles, how many ever times we get cured, we will get it back) would most essentially also establish as to what caused it and then people probably would get it lesser. And the moment you get a one time cure, all the years of money you could make from a single patient go down the drain. I doubt hence if such a thing would happen.

If anyone is interested in not just discussing their opinions here but want to look at some potentially verifiable information, please read medical scams . I have personally read a ton of the website, I don’t agree with a few things but I don’t think the guy has written things intentionally to dupe people. He probably has just written with a clear conscience with an intention to educate. And I applaud that.

KungFuPanda's avatar

Looks like Cancer is a 200 billion dollar market – not 3 as I’ve said in my reply above.

snowberry's avatar

Point well made, @KungFuPanda. Appreciate the link. It’s a winner.

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