Pubdate: Fri, 7 Dec 2007
Source: Tucson Citizen (AZ)
Copyright: 2007 Tucson Citizen
Author: Jeff Smith
Note: Jeff bought his own insurance policy before he sailed off 
Broke-bike Mountain. It was a stroke of luck, not of brilliance.
Bookmark: (Chronic Pain)
Bookmark: (Heroin)
Bookmark: (Oxycontin/Oxycodone)


The giants of pharmaceutical drugs in the United States of America are
committing mass murder, selective genocide, remote-control homicide on
a monstrous scale.

But what the hell, the remote-control part puts it so far offshore
it's clear on the far side of the planet, on the shores of the Bay of
Bengal, near where mobs of millions swim in the Ganges, whose waters
you wouldn't put in your own toilet.

And given the role of overpopulation in the myriad aspects of global
epidemiology, one might make a case for casting a blind eye toward
forcing the Third World's sick and dying to shuffle off this mortal
coil to make room for the sacred cows that share their living quarters
and occupy an upper floor in the high-rise house of caste and higher

If I sound like a cynic with despicable disregard of human suffering,
allow me a little slack. I'm a drug-addled addict. Not just any drug
either, morphia, the storied syrup of the Amapola, pretty little poppy
of your parents' favorite song and your bad uncle's opium, mother of
morphine, father of heroin, source of every painkiller worth a damn
and every needle in the arm that led to death . . .

. . . until cocaine came along, and then pharmaceutical designer

So you might have as much reason to mistrust my word as the propaganda
of the pharma-giants, except that I have a legit reason to be hooked
on opiates, and the pharmas are in it strictly for the green. The two
sides are inextricably bound.

I had a motorcycle wreck and wound up crippled in my southern
hemisphere and busted up in the north. I take enough OxyContin every
day to knock a rhinoceros sideways. If I didn't have the drug - an
opium derivative - I couldn't live with the pain. Fact.

When I graduated from straight morphine to OxyContin, my monthly cost
for the scrip was upwards of $1,800. Just that one drug. OxyContin is
the brand-name for Oxycodone ER, a generic opioid with an extended
release coating that makes it dissolve over roughly 12 hours. A lot of
cheap aspirin tablets come with the same coatings.

Plain Oxycodone costs $2.15 a month. That is not a typo: $2.15 for
Oxycodone, $1,800-plus for the coating.

Hold that thought.

Half a planet away from here, Dr. Yusuf Hamied runs a pharmaceutical
company called Cipla, one of the most financially - and one must add
spiritually - successful operations in India. The doctor's father
started Cipla in 1935, was pals with Gandhi, and passed it all along
to Yusuf, who didn't miss a trick.

Under Yusuf Hamied, Cipla developed a generic "cocktail" of AIDS
drugs, an anti-retroviral, that reduced the costs of treatment by more
than 97 percent. A godsend for India's sick and poor.

Cipla was able to sell its AIDS anti-retroviral for 3 percent of what
U.S. and European sources were selling the same drugs for, in India
and 170 other countries - including ours - and still make Dr. Hamied
healthy, wealthy and wise.

Which makes you wonder why U.S. and European pharma-monsters still
spend lavish sums of m-u-n-n-y lobbying elected officials to guarantee
them patent protection, price protection, so-called "intellectual
property" protection.

And why government goes along with this conspiracy.

And still does. India joined the World Trade Organization in 2005 and,
as a condition of membership, agreed to change its laws regarding
generic drugs.

Now Dr. Hamied's company can no longer copy expensive patent drugs and
sell them for pennies to the poor. Which means, literally, that
India's AIDS patients, 90-something percent of them, will die. Because
they can't come within cannon shot of affording the cost of

Same as Africa's patients.

Same as Mexico's.

South America's.

Our own, many of them.

The pharma-killers could sell their anti-retrovirals somewhere near
Dr. Hamied's prices and still make big profits, but not the way they
do today.

Today pharmaceuticals stand second only to petroleum in the Fortune
500 rankings of corporate profitability.

They stand there on the bodies of millions worldwide who have died of
AIDS for want of the price of the only medicine that can save them.

Bought any pharmaceuticals lately? 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake