August 29, 2008 – Whimsical, cynical mental diversion about a diabolical but purely fictional “plan” presented before a purely fictional audience of pharmaceutical industry representatives a couple of decades ago. This “plan” was formulated from my observations about the current state of affairs pertaining to the use of pharmaceuticals. While I am a lover of conspiracy theories, this is not a conspiracy theory; it’s merely intended to be wry and thought provoking.
By The Cerebral Aesthetic Vagabond
Ladies and gentlemen, I’m very pleased to be here today. I won’t attempt to start my presentation with a joke because I always seem to forget the punchline!
Instead of a joke, I would like to present to you what I believe is a road map for our industry for the next century that will make us all fabulously wealthy!
What is our business? It’s selling drugs. We don’t make any more money if our drugs “cure” an RB! For you newbies in the audience, “RB” doesn’t stand for “rube,” although that wouldn’t be inappropriate. It stands for “revenue body,” or what we oldtimers used to refer to as “patients.”
We only make money if we can keep on selling drugs to an RB. The more drugs we can sell an RB, the better. In fact, if one drug makes the RB sick and another drug can be sold to treat the symptoms of the first, then so much the better!
Now, I won’t lie to you. We face an uphill struggle to implement this plan. Americans generally like to think of themselves as strong and independent, and thus they’ve traditionally shunned taking medications for any length of time. We’ve got to change the public perception of medications from one of treating disease to one of enhancing health. Our advertising guys can probably take care of that. In fact, they’re already working on a campaign to convince the public that taking aspirin on a regular basis enhances health by reducing the likelihood of heart attacks. But aspirin is just a test case. It’s small potatoes compared to the drugs we’d like to sell. For those RBs who are resistant to advertising, it would help to enlist the aid of government to force certain kinds of medications, such as vaccines, onto the public, as well as to neutralize competing medications, food supplements and healthful foods.
In today’s competitive business climate it’s not good enough to simply wait around for an RB to get sick. So this plan contains proactive measures to help create new RBs to consume our product. One way, a bit heavy-handed but effective, is to induce illness in the public. Horrifying as it sounds, there are plenty of sanitary ways of inducing illness that are several steps removed from our industry, affording us plausible deniability. Another way to manufacture RBs is by convincing people, through advertising, that ordinary phenomena are cause for alarm and are best treated by our medications. And let me stress this point: Under no circumstances should we ever allow RBs to recognize that their ailments are lifestyle-related and correctable by making changes to their lifestyle! Empowering the RBs like that is suicidal for our business. We must present our industry as the sole remedy for all of life’s aches and pains and discomforts. Our goal should be to get every American woman, man, child and infant to consume at least one pill daily!
So without further ado, let’s get to the slides.
Currently, direct advertising of our product on television and in other media is not permitted. Our lobbyists are working now to get the law changed to permit direct advertising. Once this is accomplished we will be able to enlist the RBs themselves in our marketing efforts!
We must eliminate all competing products, including dietary supplements, vitamins, herbs and illegal drugs. The plan here is to first crack down on fringe supplements, then move on to vitamins and eventually even home-grown herbs. We must also ensure continued maintenance of existing prohibitions on illegal drugs, particularly marijuana, which unfortunately seems to have numerous medicinal benefits. Marijuana is our number one adversary.
Since we obviously want to build automatic price increases into our product ...
... we certainly want to get the government into the business of buying our product! I believe that with the right legislative persuasion we can get Medicare to start paying for drugs for RBs. Once that happens it will open the door to automatic 100% annual increases in our product prices.
Now, government can really give us a hand in the proactive area too. Once we’ve gotten dietary supplements off the market, food nutrition itself is the natural next target. If we can reduce the nutritional quality of food, people can eat as much of the stuff as they want and it won’t result in any improvement to their health. They’ll have no choice but to come to us for health maintenance drugs.
Some researchers are reporting promising results in the area of radiation. They’ve discovered that irradiating food destroys its nutritional value, especially in raw produce. The RBs might as well eat cake!
[Applause and laughter]
Of course, the public is uneasy about radiation, but it’s nothing that can’t be overcome with a few highly publicized food-borne disease outbreaks. After that the public will clamor for irradiation!
We are in the process of researching ways to accelerate dependence of RBs on our product. One of the most expedient approaches is to simply spray toxic chemicals into the atmosphere. But this is a costly approach, which is why government involvement is a must. We figure that we can spray these chemicals into the atmosphere and the RBs will assume that they are ordinary jet exhaust trails, that is, if they even bother to pay attention to the skies. This technique is ideal for creating all manner of respiratory problems requiring chronic treatment regimens using our products!
There is a huge and untapped captive market for our vaccine producing members: schoolchildren. Not enough parents are getting their children vaccinated, so if we can get the government to mandate – or at least strongly “suggest” – vaccinations for schoolchildren, we can significantly increase the size of our market overnight. Once we establish a precedent for forced vaccinations, there’s no limit to the number of vaccines we can sell. As I speak before you, scientists in our industry are working on a vaccine for HPV that they hope can be administered to girls as young as ten years old, and that’s just a hint of the bright future that awaits us!
We need the government to pass laws enforcing intellectual property rights. We can’t have low cost producers in other countries mimicking our drugs. If necessary, we can lower our prices to what the market will bear in each country, but we cannot have them making their own copies of our drugs. Intellectual property rights is equally important to our friends in the genetically modified foods industry as well, and I will discuss their cooperation with us a little later in the presentation.
Finally, we need to press for new laws to protect us from product liability lawsuits. This agenda is even more important as we embark on this aggressive development and marketing program.
It goes without saying that once the government legalizes direct advertising we will need to substantially boost our advertising budgets. I’m talking about a saturated campaign, in print media, on television and radio. I’d like to see every RB exposed to at least ten pharmaceutical ads a day!
Through effective advertising, we can recruit the RBs themselves as unwitting representatives! We’ll make sure the doctors are so overburdened and properly motivated that they’ll simply prescribe whatever the RB asks for. Once that happens, our advertising team will do the rest.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this presentation. a big problem for us is the disease stigma associated with medications. We need to change that image and make it OK for RBs to be taking medications daily, even multiple medications. We need to make consumption of medications look like fun, and even be seen as sexy. We need to cast medications in the light of enhancing health rather than treating disease, so our advertisements must show RBs engaged in active, fun activities and always smiling, while making it clear that our product is responsible for their vitality. Think of the old cigarette advertisements as a model. We can also indulge in a little stealth advertising, perhaps by getting late night comedians to tell jokes about our products and their side effects. The jokes may be on us, but we’ll be the ones laughing all the way to the bank!
[Applause and laughter]
I always say America is the most innovative country on earth. Let’s apply that innovation to our industry. If a malady doesn’t exist for a drug we have to sell, let’s invent one!
The other day my wife was telling me about her friend who was having trouble sleeping because her legs moved around a lot during the night. My wife’s story inspired an epiphany: Why not create a disease – call it “restless leg syndrome” – and then sell a drug to treat it? That’s the kind of innovation we ought to be exploring in our industry. In case you think I’m joking, I took my idea to our R&D department and they think it has promise!
Now, there are a lot of obstinate Americans who won’t go along with our program. Unfortunately, they might set an unwelcome example for others to follow. So to nip that sort of thing in the bud it’s important for our advertising campaign to paint such people as Luddites at best and guilty of dangerous negligence at worst. For example, some high-profile legal cases involving parents who refuse to vaccinate their children would go a long way toward demonizing such people and cement our product in the category of conventional wisdom.
Finally, although we are campaigning to avoid having to list side effects of our medications in advertisements, there’s a good chance we will have to do so. By all means, people, don’t make the mistake of listing the side effects in a sober, frightening way! List them quickly and in a cheery voice! Heck, make the side effects sound like fun too!
I cannot overemphasize the value of giving free samples of our product to doctors. It’s the second part of an effective two-pronged marketing strategy, the other part being direct advertising to the RBs.
Of course, ingratiating ourselves to the doctors is also a good way to get them to “push” our product. Spare no expense wining and dining doctors, paying for their travel to medical “conferences” and giving them gifts. Just remember to put your company name and phone number on the damned gifts!
We should cultivate contacts within medical schools and medical journals to emphasize drugs over other approaches to health maintenance, especially lifestyle changes!
We should encourage a greater and greater dissemination of information, especially contradictory information. The idea would be to so overload the doctors and RBs with confusing information that they will have no choice but to take our word for it that our drugs are effective.
We should work with the health insurance companies to emphasize drugs over other treatments and tie this in with government participation in paying for drugs. If we present our proposal properly, we can appeal to the health insurance companies’ natural predisposition to share in the profits. By diverting health care dollars from doctors to drugs we can also increase the workload on doctors, making them even less likely to resist our marketing appeals.
In order to maintain our product image, we must control studies of our product’s safety and efficacy. There are a few simple rules in this regard.
First, if a study reveals too many samples that don’t show any sort of benefit from our medications, simply omit them and retain the samples that do show benefit.
Second, if a study just plain makes the product look bad, by all means terminate it! Find an excuse, any excuse, to terminate the study prematurely and figure out another way to present our product in a more positive light, perhaps even rebranding it to treat an entirely different disease.
Third, if independent studies are critical of our product or show negligible benefits from it, hire a sympathetic expert to refute that study. If nothing else, confusion about the product’s efficacy improves the effectiveness of our marketing efforts!
As with irradiation, genetic modification promises to significantly decrease the nutritional value of food, while simultaneously inducing disease in the RBs. Our friends in the chemical industry have really taken up the reins of research in this area. Thank you Sanmonto!
Other areas of research hold promise for inducing disease as well, especially artificial sweeteners and artificial fats. The beauty of these chemicals is that they will sell themselves. Americans are so desperate to shed pounds they will eat anything that promises to accomplish that without any effort!
We should definitely encourage the use of more plastics for food and beverage packaging. There’s growing evidence that plastics can be a ally for us, silently contributing to the ill-health of the RBs.
Non-stick coatings on cookware also hold promise as a vector for introducing toxic chemicals into the RBs. We’re working with chemical industry representatives to identify more types of cookware that could be coated with these materials.
Finally, we must work with the chemical industry and governments to get fluoride added to all municipal water systems. If nothing else, studies show that fluoride is helpful in producing a docile population, making the RBs more receptive to our future marketing campaigns.
I apologize for the length of my presentation, but as you may have gathered from it there are many opportunities for future growth for our industry. By leveraging off other industries, advertising and government, there’s almost no limit to our future growth potential. That means money, money, money my friends! Thank you, and good day.
[Wild applause and standing ovation]
On a serious note, here’s a great video titled, Pharma Not in Business of Health, Healing, Cures, Wellness, from an self-proclaimed insider who explains most succinctly our for-profit “health” care system. In reality, as this lady explains, we have a sick care system because keeping people sick and constantly in need of treatment or medication is far more profitable.