Do you feel down and sluggish? Are your feet itchy? Do you have second thoughts while standing in a crowd of twenty to fifty? Does sneezing make your eyes twitch, and stiffening the muscles on the tip of our right little finger? There’s probably a pill that can fix you.
Amazing medication advertisements urge us “to ask your doctors today” about the benefits of tomorrow. Thinking we are healthy, we discover that some vague symptom we have is being advertised on an infomercial. With the marketing department’s imagination, these symptoms instantly conjure up a wide market of ‘sufferers’. To the industry’s benefit, more drugs are then prescribed to counter the original drug’s side effects. The prescription numbers grow and the dosages increase.
Canadians spend over $20 billion on prescription drugs each year. This is the pharmaceutical industry, or Big Pharma’s, cut of our health care spending. Not denying the necessity to some lifesaving drugs, but in 2002 the top ten drug companies in the Fortune 500 earned a profit of $35.9 billion. The remaining 490 businesses earned a grand total of $33.7 billion, including banks and petrochemical industries. We may have a drug problem. These numbers indicate that we are overmedicated and must wean off of Big Pharma’s monetary overdose.
The industry pawns its cures upon the masses. As Dr. Marcia Angell writes in The Truth About the Drug Companies, Big Pharma is the chief informant keeping both the public and doctors up-to-date on the latest-and-greatest illnesses. The psychotherapist’s bible is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, presenting a psychological lock for every pharmaceutical key. The first version, published in 1917, was a sixty-five page booklet; the 1994 DSM-IV, was 886 pages. That’s a whole lot of sickness and a whole lot of fixes.
Of course, a cure would be great for the federal health budget, but it prescribes doom for the pharmaceutical industry. Our psychological and physical health are of secondary importance to increased stock returns for their investors. A cure equates lost business for Big Pharma; it doesn’t promote a growing economy. It is equivalent to killing off the customer, which is more profitable when done slowly.
The legal drug dealer runs on an exponential cycle of consumer dependency, not unlike narcotics. We are test beakers to the pharmaceutical marketing department, ingesting chemical concoctions and living out the mixture’s effects. So, where would we be without Big Pharma? Aside from some life-saving products, probably healthier and saner.
 Reynolds, John Lawrence, Prognosis: The Current State and Shaky Future of Canada’s Health System (Toronto, Penguin, 2008) 54
 Angell, Marcia, M. D., The Truth About the Drug Companies: How they deceive us and what to do about it (New York, Random House, 2005) 11