General Question

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

If a cure was found for a major illness tomorrow,do you think the medical establishment would embrace or reject it?

Asked by lucillelucillelucille (27545points) August 30th, 2010

Even if it was relatively inexpensive to cure and 100 % effective?

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54 Answers

llewis's avatar

If it didn’t make them a lot of money, the establishment would reject it and say it doesn’t work, or that it’s dangerous or something. Probably make it illegal for the practitioners to use it. Like they’ve done with so many things that are effective but not “billable”. (Boy, I sure sound sour, don’t I?)

NaturallyMe's avatar

I agree with @llewis, this is exactly what happens. There are many effective treatments out there that are rejected by the medical establishments because they can’t make money out of it, often times because the treatment is a natural remedy and cannot be patented and therefor cannot be profitable to the medical industry.

Seaofclouds's avatar

I would hope they would embrace it. I’m not really sure that they would, but they might. As much as people say they (the medical establishments) don’t want to cure people, I think things are changing. Hospitals aren’t getting reimbursed as much as they use to, insurance companies are paying and covering less, and people just don’t have the money to pay their hospital bills. It is really not beneficial for hospitals or doctors to continue treating people for illnesses when they aren’t being paid. With as much publicity as something like that would receive, it would be hard for someone to brush it under the rug.

iamthemob's avatar

Wow – I don’t think I’m at all naive when I say whoever discovered it would release that in a second. A second. The scenario that you’ve given is one where this thing cures a deadly disease, a major disease 100% of the time. If they didn’t have a way to profit from it, number one, they wouldn’t have invested the money to research and prove it’s effectiveness. Also, the good will that the company would engender by releasing a cheap, proven cure would be worth a fortune on it’s own, more than likely. And the ramifications it was discovered that such a thing wasn’t released? Good lord, I guarantee you that every family member of someone who had died in the period between discovery and discovery that it hadn’t be released would sue that company for god knows what.

No DOUBT that it would be on the market.

Dr_Dredd's avatar

What do you mean by “medical establishment”? I don’t think individual doctors would oppose it, particularly if it were for a common and disabling problem. My schedule is so overcrowded that I would welcome needing to see fewer people because of cure.

iamthemob's avatar

Yeah – by medical establishment I’m thinking along the lines of pharmaceutical companies and the like. Do you mean something else?

Aster's avatar

If you mean a cure for cancer it would be squashed in an instant and the discoverer’s lab would be raided then shut down. Then they’d drive him out to the middle of the Sahara and drop him off for the buzzards’ dinner.
The FDA would just be trying to protect us from him, right? They wouldn’t want us to be harmed by his “cure.”

ragingloli's avatar

Doctors would embrace it, the pharma industry would reject it. Or buy the patents and then lock them away.

JLeslie's avatar

The pharmaceutical industry could not stop the release of a new medication or cure when push comes to shove. What is tricky is this new miracle has to be scientifically proven to work before it gets FDA’s approval. You need money to do the studies. It is true that pharma probably has some people in their pockets in the FDA and other parts of government, but not enough to stop a miracle cure that is proven to effective. I don’t think doctors would stop such a discovery from being available, there are plenty of health problems, curing one won’t hurt their practice that much. I think doctors are thrilled when they can cure patient.

RomanExpert's avatar

Cure bad. Treatment good. More money.

iamthemob's avatar

@RomanExpert

Not in all cases. Generally, but not in all cases.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@RomanExpert Not when there isn’t anyone to pay for that treatment.

RomanExpert's avatar

@Seaofclouds The government is going to pay now, me and you! Lol!

iamthemob's avatar

@RomanExpert

Wait, pay for what – correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought Seaofclouds was implying that treatments aren’t going to be more profitable than a cure if, perhaps, the disease just killed all the people getting treated.

What would the government be paying for then?

Seaofclouds's avatar

@RomanExpert No they aren’t. The government isn’t giving insurance to everyone. They are mandating that everyone must have insurance and making it easier for people to get insurance (which is another conversation). Even government insurance is covering fewer treatments and procedures and reimbursing less of the actual cost than they use to. Private insurance is doing the same thing. When insurance doesn’t cover it, it’s on the patient to cover it. If the patient can’t afford it, the doctor’s offices and hospitals don’t get pais.

Fyrius's avatar

@llewis
@NaturallyMe
@Aster
@ragingloli
Holy conspiracy theories, Batman. I’m appalled at how certain you all seem to be that the medical community cares more about money than lives – having suspicions about corruption is one thing, but you’re stating these accusations as factually as if you were talking about what happens if you set plastic on fire.

Call me naive – you probably will – but I think most people who end up devoting their lives to medicine are people who care about other people.
I know two people who have been in traffic accidents and were carried to hospital an inch from death, and they both came out alive and mostly well, with only minor untreatable brain damage. To a layperson like me, what happened in those hospitals bordered on the miraculous. That means the doctors could easily have gotten away with exploiting their patients for more cash and telling everyone they did all they could – nobody would expect more. If they only want to make more money, why overshoot expectations?

So yeah. I’m inclined to think the medical community really does want to cure people.

JLeslie's avatar

I just thought I would point out that the American federal government does medical research to find cures, not just the pharmaceutical industry. NIH is full of medical researchers from our country and others for just this thing. And the government gives money to private industry also to find cures.

shilolo's avatar

This whole thread reveals the naivety (and lack of knowledge) of people in assuming that there are simple cures for complex diseases. Is it easy to fire a spaceship into space? When your aging clunker of a car begins to break down, can you simply change the oil and make it run like it is brand new?

What makes anyone think that there is some sort of magic bullet for any disease process? Take cancer as a classic example. There are so many different cancers, and so many different processes that are dysregulated within each type, and even within a given type of cancer (like breast cancer for example) there are different molecular pathways disrupted. You cannot assume that one chemical will “cure” all cancers. In any event, some cancers have been cured by so-called “magic bullets”, like the drug Gleevec for chronic myelogenous leukemia. We have cures for most infections, some cancers, some autoimmune diseases, and some inflammatory diseases. Other diseases like diabetes, or high blood pressure or heart disease are both diseases of affluence as well as diseases of advancing age. Just like any machine will break down in both simple (flat tire) or complex ways (transmission problems), the human body has the same issues. In fact, the human body is far more complex than any car or computer, and yet people think the “medical establishment” is suppressing cures out of some sort of nefarious plot. These are the paranoid delusions of the uneducated and uninformed.

RomanExpert's avatar

@Fyrius Of course they care about helping people, but like police officers and firefighters, it turns into a job. Good point about the accidents, but out of context I think. Big difference. If you get into an accident, doctors are God and have the power of life and death and they have to help anyway. And, they are going to exploit you for as much cash as they can, if you have any, until they need to free up the hospital bed for a more “secured” patient.

iamthemob's avatar

@shilolo

I don’t know that you’re right about that – I think that the question was directed more towards what the reaction amongst various sectors of the medical/health community would be if a powerfully effective treatment of whatever kind for a devastating health issue was developed that would be cheap on release. That’s about whether an industry would be more protective of profit even if it meant harm.

We have to simplify the superfluous elements in a question in order to elicit helpful responses, right?

shilolo's avatar

@iamthemob This whole thread makes many assumptions, and in my view, wrongly. First, there will always be sick people. Even if one disease is cured, there will be new ones. We’re not all going to live to 500. Second, there are many examples of cures/treatments that save people money at the expense of “the establishment”. As but one example, years ago stomach ulcers were either fatal or treated with surgery. Then, with the advent of antacids and H2 blockers, ulcers could be suppressed without surgery, in general. Then (and finally), proton pump inhibitors were developed, and ulcers were discovered to be caused by a bacterial infection. Now we use antibiotics to treat H. pylori for two weeks, eradicating the infection and eliminating the need for lifelong medications. In a nushell, the medical establishment shot itself in the proverbial foot. Two weeks of antibiotics is a whole lot cheaper than a lifetime supply of medicines or complex surgery, but because it was proven to be more effective (and the correct treatment), that’s what we do.

JLeslie's avatar

@iamthemob the government has protections for new discoveries to recoup monies spent in research, like patents. It keeps other pharmaceutical companies from being able to market the same drug. A brand new discovery would be difficult to stop. Pharmaceutical does use loopholes in the patent rules, like in the last year of patent coming out with an extended release formula. I agree some of it is bullshit. But, a new cure for breast cancer, or multiple sclerosis, no one is going to stop it if proven effective.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

To those who think that “the medical estabishment” would shoot down cures because it cut into their pocketbook (and thank you, @Fyrius and @shilolo for your well-reasoned arguments to the contrary, and explanation of complexity), you don’t seem to know how science works.

When someone comes up with a “Eureka!” discovery it is the duty of responsible researchers and scientists everywhere to attempt to “falsify” the discovery. That’s not to say that they try to shoot it down “just to shoot it down”. On the contrary. They attempt to replicate experimental results to verify if the discovery is true (or if the discoverer might be fudging the data for his OWN reasons, for example), or under what conditions it might not be true. They attempt to test limits. They attempt to find flaws in the argument. They attempt with great diligence to find out that the discovery is “not true”. And when they fail, they prove to the rest of us that the thing IS true… and knowledge increases; society advances.

But if every quack or crackpot who went on TV were to be lionized by every researcher, doctor, scientist… and their patients… then we’d have no such thing as “medical science”.

If what the conspiracists think is true were the real way of things, we wouldn’t have any of the things we take for granted each day: electricity, pure running water, safe food, refrigeration, television… the internet. All of these things displaced “the way things were” and “vested interests” at other times.

Don’t be ridiculous.

If cures are “found” they are rigorously and relentlessly tested to see if they really ARE cures, and then they are used.

iamthemob's avatar

@JLeslie

Absolutely – that’s what I said from the beginning (see my first post above).

@shilolo

That’s a lot of technical information – but the assumptions that were made were in order to address how the industry would react to something which might have a profound impact on future profits – if it’s profitable to prevent to drug from making it to market, will they? (and again, as I stated vehemently earlier, attempting to block something like that would be a big, big mistake). You’re addressing the mechanics of it…tell me if I’m missing how these assumptions, which I agree are simplifications (although not automatically indicating ignorance), but does a revision of the issue to include the proper mechanics of how it would work clarify that issue?

LuckyGuy's avatar

Of course they would embrace it. They embraced antibiotics, surgery, radiation therapy.
If one disease is cured, plenty of others can take its place as billable.

lillycoyote's avatar

I’m with at @worriedguy of course they would embrace it. The questions is regarding a cure that is 100% effective, I am assuming that means proven 100% effective, as @cyanoticwasp discusses, and @shilolo there actually are quite a few “magic bullets;” antibiotics are one of them. They are generally extremely effective in curing a number of diseases and vaccines are the big magic bullet, and they are relatively cheap, extremely effective and have not only been embraced, but championed by the medical profession. Vaccines have either completely eradicated smallpox, and reduced the incidence of a tremendous number of diseases that have plagued humans for centuries such as polio, measles, scarlet fever, etc. And @ragingloli is right too. Doctors would embrace it, but something like that might make the pharmaceutical industry a little pissy.

JLeslie's avatar

@iamthemob my mistake. Your response to @shilolo threw me off. I think @shilolo point about the complexity and abundance of disease and maladies is directly tied in with this question.

iamthemob's avatar

@JLeslie

Hmm…I feel like I see your point about the complexity issue…but can you explain?

lillycoyote's avatar

@CyanoticWasp Sorry, I only just got around to reading your whole post, as opposed to skimming it, and great answer. You’ve got it pretty much covered.

JLeslie's avatar

@iamthemob I am wondering what exactly you were thinking when creating the question? Were you thinking about herbal remedies? Or, an actual pharmacological discovery that would be kept from the market place because if there are fewer patients it hurts business?

See, the every day GP will still see patients to check their health, because we aren’t going to cure all disease in one shot (no pun intended). The will still be strep throat even if we cure the common cold. We will still need our cholesterol checked even if we cure congestive heart failure.

Women will still go to the GYN, even if we completely prevent all strains of HPV with a vaccination, women will still need birth control and can still get ovarian cysts, and will still be getting pregnant, having trouble getting pregnant, going through menopause. GYN’s don’t need cervical cancer caused by HPV to exist to stay busy. If they cure type 1 diabetes, probably type 2 will still exist, and so will thyroid troubles, and other hormonal disorders, so the endocrinologists are still busy. If you cure smokers related lung cancer, there is still other types of lung cancer. I don’t think there is a conspiracy to keep patients sick.

The herbal remedies are not proven so doctors can’t really prescribe them. If they go under the rigors of testing, then the doctors can.

There is what I call a certain amount of legal corruption in the process of bringing drugs to market, it is not a perfect system for sure, but I would say practicing doctors definitely would not stand in the way of a cure. They sometimes are unaware of research, or are narrow-minded that is true, but I don’t think it is about money in those cases.

iamthemob's avatar

@JLeslie
Wait…what/which question?

JLeslie's avatar

@iamthemob crap, I’m sorry I was thinking you were the OP, you are the OP on a different question I have been responding to. Sorry for the confusion.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

They’d shelve it until a way was worked to make it profitable.

Rarebear's avatar

The cynicism on this thread is depressing to me.

If a cure to a medical illness were found, of course they would accept it. And not necessarily for profit. And it has. Has anybody forgotten about what Jonas Salk did for you? Yes you? And for free?

JLeslie's avatar

@Rarebear I wonder if the drug business was not such a big business back then? Although, I do agree, as you can see from my answers, that I believe the cure would be put on the market. I doubt anyone would be doing it for free like Salk though.

Rarebear's avatar

@JLeslie Based upon what evidence do you make that allegation? The Human Genome Project released its results into the public domain. The NIH is a governmental organization with public funding who releases clinical results by publishing scientific papers, as do most academic medical researchers. The CDC and WHO are governmental and world organizations that are working on eliminating many illnesses in the absence of profit. Oh, and aspirin saves lives from heart attacks.

Rarebear's avatar

I meant to add that aspirin saves lives from heart attacks, and aspirin has always been a generic drug. If we follow the cynics logic, that result would never have been published because a drug company didn’t profit from it.

JLeslie's avatar

@Rarebear Whao, I was the one who brought up NIH at the top. And, that government grants are even given to private companies for research. I think Salk made nothing on his discovery if my memory is right. NIH doctors make a salary as researchers. Maybe he was paid as a researcher also? Or, was he a doctor? If I remember correctly, as far as the genome project goes, don’t companies own certain sequences, or something like that?

JLeslie's avatar

@Rarebear Drug companies do profit from selling aspirin.

Rarebear's avatar

@JLeslie Hardly. $5.71/500 is about a penny a pill. Spend one penny and save a life. It doesn’t get much cheaper than that.

JLeslie's avatar

@Rarebear This in wikipedia reminded me of the story I heard about. Seems the company that tests for the breast cancer gene has a patent. The test is very expensive, and they have the corner on the market so to speak. The patient has no option but to pay whatever they ask to have the test performed.

Meanwhile, I am on your side remember? But things are never perfect. There is plenty of altruism in medicine, but there are some who want to make a lot of money, and money is more important than health to some of these companies. They can’t just make a profit they have to make a fortune. Their greed is dispicable.

shilolo's avatar

@JLeslie It’s a fine line. If you want innovation and expect that at least some of that (if not the majority) will come from the private sector, then the companies that make up the private sector have to have some leeway with respect to making a profit. Now, I’m not in favor of anyone gouging the consumer for massive profits, but some people fail to realize that for every successful drug/treatment, there have been many expensive failures. In order to stay afloat, companies must recoup the total cost of research and development of many drugs in the few successful ones.

JLeslie's avatar

@shilolo If they were getting by, by the skin of their teeth, maybe I would have more empathy, but drug companies many times make huge profits. They are profitting while paying for sales meetings in tropical places and buying lunches or doctors and their staffs. I actually am in favor of advertising directly to the consumer, which a lot of people are against because of the expense. but much of the money spent on “selling” to doctors, rather wooing doctors, I resent.

I am fine with them making a profit, I just think sometimes a line gets crossed. An integrity line. It happens in lots of industries.

I believe we are agreeing in the end. It’s a fine line. There are good examples and bad examples to be had in regard to the original question.

Rarebear's avatar

@JLeslie There is no question that much innovation and medical advance does come through a profit motive, and that’s a good thing. I save lives every day based upon technologies that were developed with a profit motive.

The original question of this poster, and subsequent posts, was to imply that the medical establish would REJECT any medical advance if there wasn’t a profit motive. That is simply untrue as I have demonstrated.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I agree with @Rarebear in believing cures wouldn’t be REJECTED but I do believe they’d get shelved until studies could discover as many possible uses as possible and marketing strategies developed for maximum profits. If the cure would also cause male erections then I think that would fastlane the cure to availability.

JLeslie's avatar

@Rarebear we are in agreement.

JLeslie's avatar

@Neizvestnaya I disagree. Testing for new drugs being brought to market usually studies one use. Sometimes during trials it is discovered to cure or help other conditions, or to ha an unexpected positive side effect. Even if some of these positive side effects are not part of the study, the drug might be used off label so to speak once approved for market. The pharmaceutical company might later do an additional study so they can advertise the drug for the other use and get FDA approval for that use.

Rarebear's avatar

@Neizvestnaya What you wrote makes no sense. You say that you agree with me, but then your next statement is opposite to what I’ve been arguing.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

@Rarebear: I agree with the part where you say the medical community wouldn’t REJECT a cure outright.

@JLeslie: Somewhere along the way I left out a tilde in reference to the side benefits of drug to cause erections.

amberrae's avatar

Reject it for sure! There is no money in the cure, only the “treatment”... Our healthcare system is without a soul! The only thing that matters to the ones running this system is profit and keeping the wealthy and other government official rich!

Rarebear's avatar

@amberrae Attaboy. You keep spouting that nonsense until you break your arm with your bone sticking out. You will, of course, let it fester because the healthcare system is without a soul and they don’t care about you—all they want to do is get rich. Rotsa ruck.

iamthemob's avatar

I don’t understand how people think this would be suppressed – of course there is a concern in every industry about profit, but I think this is one of those instances where the general benefit would by necessity overcome any concern about profit.

People also seem to forget that there are ancillary benefits to the value of a company releasing such a cure even if it reduces specific profits in other areas. Consider: Pfizer releases a pill that cures cancer, all cancer. It costs $10. Outlandish, surely. But consider this…Pfizer releases other products. How much good will advertising, consumer loyalty, would such a profound release cause for Pfizer. If it did such a thing, I would be inclined to buy stock in the company, and every product it put out that I could afford even if I didn’t need it…just as a “THANK YOU!” to it.

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