09 March, 2015
Dumit Memo 2
In the fifth chapter of Dumit’s book he discussed how pharmaceutical companies “move the lines” (Dumit, 135). In this chapter Dumit argues that pharmaceutical companies decide what is going to be researched and what should be left behind. Money and power make all the difference no matter what industry you are looking at and medical testing and trials are very expensive. If pharmaceutical companies are willing to pay for a medical trial then they also get to decide how that trial is ran, they are not only choosing to find treatments for illnesses that will make the most profit but also conducting trials in a way that alters the facts. This is seen on page 136, “They also determine how those markets can be stretched wider by designing trials that will indicate that more of the population needs treatment”. The more people that we can define as ill the more people who will buy prescriptions. Dumit also makes the argument that pharmaceutical companies use numbers to keep people on treatment for as long as possible, evidence for this is seen in the kupfer curve. Dumit feels that pharmaceutical companies use numbers and trails to convince people that you will never be okay again without medication. If you are depressed and begin taking prescription antidepressants then you must continue to take them for the rest of your life or you will become depressed again. The argument is that pharmaceutical companies strategically avoid what causing depressing and the idea that people do get better. Dumit also discusses in this chapter how pharmaceutical companies decide what information is used when creating statistics. What results will produce the most revenue, if a prescription works really well at treating a rare form of cancer, and works okay at treating leukemia, which form of cancer is that pharmaceutical company going to promote the drug for, how will the facts be curved to appeal the leukemia patients and doctors?
In the sixth chapter of “Drugs for life” Dumit argues the importance of “knowing your number” (Dumit, 182). Knowing your numbers is similar to knowing how at risk you are. Pharmaceutical companies promote testing and screening for every possible condition as seen in “the “know your level” campaign in the 1970’s…to identify the 25 percent of people with undetected high cholesterol” (Dumit, 184). The more people who are screened the more people who will discover that they are at risk for obtaining a future illness. People are tested for everything from high cholesterol to cancer and diabetes. Pharmaceutical companies have created a world in which individuals live in constant fear of the possibility that they may become ill at some point in the future. Numbers are used to increase the fear, if told that 1 in every 4 Americans die from heart disease every year
then people will fear that they are included in that number and get tested. According to the CDC 49% of the population have at least one risk factor for heart dieses. That means that if pharmaceutical companies can get those 49% of people tested, they can also sell preventive prescriptions to almost half of the population. By simply making people more aware of their risk factor and their personal numbers pharmaceutical companies are able to make billions of dollars. Simply getting people tested is enough because everyone is at risk for something, when looking at family history, diet, lifestyle, and a dozen other factors there is no such thing as a healthy individual. “Health is not a state to be achieved but a form of vigilance in which one is always behind, always at risk” (Dumit, 190). Dumit uses this statement to show that the entire industry is aimed at making people sick. The pharmaceutical industry promotes the idea that illness is always present and the only way to protect yourself is through prescription drugs.