Monday, September 24, 2007

Drugs and Profits

Profit is just one reason why it is time for national healthcare program. It is immoral to reap millions in profit from another person's health issues. That is not to say that I do not think doctors should make a good living; I believe they should. It takes a lot of dedication and commitment to science to become a doctor and I am not against rewarding that.

However, I also believe garbage haulers have done more to promote public health than have doctors. By removing our collectively generated waste and sticking it somewhere else, garbage haulers prevent disease, improve our life span, and create overall public health. I think they too should see receive compensation for the social good they do. The training is not long, but the health benefits are great.

Drug companies, on the other hand, are so greedy that even middle-income people cannot afford their prescriptions.


It is difficult to figure out how much it costs to develop a new drug, mostly because the drug companies want to obscure that information. Not only do they receive billions of our tax dollars to subsidize their research, but they play shell games to hide their actual costs. Nevertheless, there are other ways to see how drug companies molest the public trust.

For example, take the generic drug, Diphenhydramine (Di-fen-high-dra-mean) Hydrochloride or Diphenhydramine Citrate. (Let's call it DH; much easier to say and spell). It has been around for years and very cheap to produce. All patents on the drug expired long ago.

At a dollar store, I can buy 100 generic DH for $1.25. I guarantee that the dollar store is not selling it at a loss. Sometimes stores do sell things below their wholesale costs to draw people into the store; so they buy other, costlier, items. DH is not one of those items in the flyers or ads.

DH sells under a variety of names, for a variety of ills, at much higher prices. For example, it sells as:

  • Benadryl is an anti-allergy anti-itch medication. A bottle of 100 sells for $15.00 at my local pharmacy.
  • DH is also the active ingredient in every over-the-counter sleeping pill.
  • Nytol (Block) $28.28/100 pills
  • Sominex $11.63/100
  • Unisom Nighttime Sleep Aid, $22.81/100
  • Simply Sleep, 11.97/100

Companies also blend DH with other medication to try to continue to rip off consumers.

  • Tylenol PM ($8.52/100) - Tylenol is a brand name of the drug, aceminophen (Ace-i-min-o-fen) Anyone can buy exactly the same drug as Tylenol generically for $1.00 for 100 pills. By taking two generic aceminophen and two DH, you have exactly the same drug effect as Tylenol PM. Aceeminophen is a pain reliever and fever reducer.
  • Advil PM ($14.03/100) - The generic name for Advil is ibuprofen (i-bu-pro-fen); you can buy generic Ibuprofen for $1.50/100 pills. Take it with two HD and you have exactly the same drug as Advil PM for a lot less money. Ibuprofen is a pain reliever and fever reducer.
  • Excedrin PM ($9.99/100 pills); Bayer PM ($14.47/100 pills), Alka-Seltzer PM (22.21/100 pills) are aspirin and Diphenhydramine Citrate. Generic aspirin is super cheap, 200 generic pills for about $1.00.

I could go on and on and... However, I do not want the point to get lost in a litany of hard to pronounce generic drug names.

Who Are These Guys?

The companies responsible for this are some of the most recognized companies who we know and trust through their advertising.

  • Pfizer manufacturers Benadryl and Unisom
  • Bristol-Myers Squibb makes Excedrin
  • Bayer produces Bayer and Alka-Seltzer PM
  • McNeil Products (a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson) makes Tylenol PM
  • Wyeth manufactures Advil PM
  • SmithKline Beecham makes Sominex

The Point is Drug Manufacturers’ Insatiable Appetite for Profit

Even when a drug has been around for eons, drug companies are not happy unless they find a way to repackage and re-rip off consumers. There is no reason why generic drugs should cost that much. The drug company that invented a certain drug has recouped their research and development costs, gazillion times over. What about the other companies who didn't own the patent? They are riding the cash cow just as far as they can. And we let them.

It is obscene that people must choose between food and their medication. It is unconscionable that drug companies’ endless and unfettered greed determines whether people live or die.

A good national non-profit healthcare plan would make this medical catastrophe disappear with the stroke of a pen.


misscripchick said...

let me be the first to say aaaaaaaaamen.

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