Are drug companies making their customers live longer at the expense of their customers?
This would seem to be the conclusion drawn from internal memos and emails of major pharmaceutical companies leaked last week which offer a sickening glimpse into the world of that life-extending, profit-seeking world.
The emails, made available by Wikisneaks, show pharmaceutical companies investing in life-extending drugs in the hopes that people will buy more of them.
Perhaps the most disturbing revelations come from memos written by Merc Chief Research Officer Hans Fisch, who in multiple instances urged researchers and staff to focus their efforts on drugs that would reduce the instances of early death. “It’s a win-win for everybody,” the executive wrote in a July 9th email. “Our customers will live longer and be active longer, which then means they’ll be around longer to buy our products.”
This was not just idle chatter. Corporate filings suggest that Merc poured billions into research on drugs aimed at preventing or lessening the impact of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. While this might sound innocuous, these are increasingly becoming the leading causes of death in the United States, after the incessant drive for profit led pharmaceutical companies to offer drugs combating most communicable diseases.
How concerned should the general public be about this? A lot says assistant adjunct professor Miles Rambler, who teaches socio-pharmacological equity at Keystone State Community College.
“What you see happening is the conversion of the poor, and specifically racial and gender minorities, into literal profit centers, where their lives are only valuable because of the profit opportunities offered to large trans-national corporations.”
To combat this naked profiteering, Professor Rambler suggests boycotting the life-saving products pharmaceutical companies are shoving down our throats. “We need to get back to a time when people died at a younger, healthier, more natural age, without becoming slaves of the corporations,” he tells the Daily Face Palm.
Fortunately, this issue is also starting to gain some traction in congress. Senator Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) has introduced a bill that would prohibit drug companies from selling pharmaceuticals that would artificially extend lifetimes past an 85-year maximum.
Big pharma lobbyists have promised to fight the bill, which they say represents a threat to the neoliberal order.