Friday, June 17, 2005

Drugs and War

The most recent issue of The Economist has a bunch of articles on the pharmaceutical industry.  Most are premium content, but the lead article -- Prescription for Change --is openly accessible.  They also have an article on the WOT: That Not-Winning Feeling, also openly accessible.  Irritatingly, The Economist says that the article is about the WOT, but then they go on to talk about the war in Iraq; this perpetuates the myth that Iraq had something to do with terrorism.  It did not.  That aside, it occurs to me that there are some parallels between the two topics.

The pharmaceutical industry carries great hope for humankind, but even greater hype.  It started out with a bang, but now is getting bogged down.  There were great advances, from penicillin to Prozac, but lately what we've seen has been a bunch of me-too drugs.   It seems that for every breakthrough (Gleevec), there is a setback (Vioxx).  A quick experiment: Google Gleevec.  The Google ads say: Save Big On Gleevec! Breaking Cancer News! etc.  Google Vioxx.  The ads: Injured by Vioxx? We Help.  Vioxx Lawsuit. The Vioxx Claim Center.  Vioxx Lawyers.  Vioxx Injury Claims (www.DreamLegalTeam.com -- they're joking, right?).

Likewise, the WOT seemed to carry, if not great hope, then at least some hope for the betterment of our world.  The hype was was out of proportion.  The war started well, but is turning into a quagmire.  The shift from Afghanistan to Iraq has turned into a wild goose chase.   I would like to call it a me-too war, but at least there is some utility to having, say, five SSRI's; the war in Iraq has nothing to do with terrorism, and is a complete waste of blood, money, and time.  For every terrorist kingpin we capture, there is one that got away; for every power station we get running, there's another pipeline that gets blown up.  

The pharmaceutical industry has an image problem.  They've fallen from about a 50% approval rating, to about 10%:

<rant-tangent>I must say, the oil companies are really taking a beating in the public opinion area.  They deserve it.</rant-tangent>

The stats for the Iraq war are pretty dismal as well.  37% of Americans approve of the President's handling of the war, down from 45% in February.  50% of Americans want the troops home soon, regardless of whether the situation in Iraq is stable, up from 43%.  Those are scientific polls.  In a snap poll, MSNBC found that 93% of Americans think that the argument for war was based on lies. (link courtesy Mousemusings)

One last parallel: Pharmaceutical companies employ scientists, and business/marketing people.  The scientists are, by and large, decent; the problems come from their administrators.  

War is conducted by soldiers, and by the Administration.  The soldiers, are by and large, decent people; despite the talk about bad apples, the real badness is in the Administration.

Is there are real significance to these associations?  No, but all correlations must be blogged, whether significant or not.  Someone has to do it.

Category: armchair musings