End-of-pipe medicine

In the Bulletin of the American Association of Retired Persons – author Joel K. Bourne Jr. writes about health practices in the Mississippi Delta:

“The area now suffers a host of health woes, with some of the highest rates of diabetes, obesity, hypertension and infant mortality in the nation. Many millions of dollars, reflecting the mis-located, impersonal, after the illness, wasteful medical model we’ve come to know over the last decade, have done too little for the Delta’s population.”

In 2014, writing about the Ebola crisis, Leigh Phillips in Jacobin Magazine and an interview with Democracy Now points out that:

“John Ashton, the head of the UK faculty of health, (says) the know-how is there, we have five candidate vaccines, but there just hasn’t been any buy-in from the major pharmaceutical companies. (He) described this as ‘the moral bankruptcy of capitalism’. This is just an unprofitable disease.”

Then he was asked by an interviewer: “Why is it that pharmaceutical companies are more interested in funding medications that people have to take over a long term rather than investing in one-off medicines like vaccines?”

“Compare that to insulin for diabetes. that people need to take every day for the rest of their lives.  Any pharmaceutical company, if they’re trying to decide where to put their investments, are they going to invest their money into a drug that will have a low return on investment or something that is likely to have a much larger return on investment? Ebola is an example of a wider problem. Antibiotic resistance is a very frightening situation. For about three decades now the pharmaceutical companies have refused to engage in any research into new classes of antibiotics. And we are coming toward the edge – the end of the efficacy of antibiotics. We have a bout 5 to 20 years left before we see a ramping up of deaths due to antibiotic resistance.”

The reader will of course see the trend. Vaccines and antibiotics have the unfortunate and undesirable property of ACTUALLY CURING DISEASES.  What Leigh Phillips is pointing out here is that end-of-pipe treatments are preferred because they go on and on. This analysis is not limited in any way to medicine.



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