The questionable commitment on the part of the research and pharmaceutical communities to healing people who suffer with MS (q.v. last week’s part one) was brought home to me once more this week. A friend of mine (Thanx, John!) sent me a link to an article on the BBC web site. (That’s one of the advantages of telling everyone you have MS. They’re always passing along interesting and useful information they find.) It concerns a potentially powerful treatment for MS, especially suited for the progressive variety, for which there is no “approved” treatment.
We’ve heard about applications of stem cells in treating MS. This one involves taking a person’s own stem cells and, after annihilating the patient’s immune system with chemotherapy, reintroducing those cells, thus “rebooting” the system. Think “ctl-alt-del” for the immune system.
As you’ll see in the article, reputable medical professionals have had what their patients describe as miraculous results. So, like the biotin findings I mentioned in my last post, why is this treatment not more widely publicized and generally available? It isn’t the price tag. The treatment costs no more than a year’s worth of regular MS meds. The answer can be found in this quote from the article:
Because the procedure involves no new drugs and instead re-purposes an existing therapy using the patient’s own cells, there is little profit incentive for drug companies to get involved.
Yup, it’s that old story. If Wall Street can’t get its cut, the treatment might as well not exist.
It was only a month ago when everyone was up in arms about Martin Shkreli, the so-called most hated man in America. He’s the scoundrel who raised the price of a cancer-related drug 5000%. In a rare bit of candor, I heard a news anchor refer to him during a regular newscast as a “scumbag”.
I have bad news for that newsman and for the rest of us. He ain’t some one-off scam artist who came out of nowhere to screw everyone out of their hard-earned cash. No, he’s the poster boy for 21st century capitalism. Most corporations live by his philosophy as he stated in an interview:
No one wants to say it, no one’s proud of it, but this is a capitalist society, a capitalist system and capitalist rules, and my investors expect me to maximize profits, not to minimize them or go half or go 70 per cent but to go to 100 per cent of the profit curve.
“Profit curve?” Is that a euphemism for extortion?
Even the most reputable companies will readily admit that their number one priority is profit. They say it’s because without profit, they’ll cease to exist. There are at least a couple of problems with that reasoning.
First, if it puts money ahead of human lives, a company doesn’t deserve to exist. Second, at some point profit becomes gouging. Who draws the line? And where is that line? Most would say it’s well below Mr. Shkreli’s level. But who are they to judge?
This isn’t rare. When someone asked one 0f my former employers, a medium sized software firm, if they had any kind of philanthropic program, the head honcho said, “Our stockholders don’t pay me to give away their money.”
Bingo. If the stockholders aren’t interested, it doesn’t happen, including curing or even treating MS. Am I being harsh? I suppose so, but that’s not the question. The only question is: Is it true? From my vantage point, the evidence leans toward “yes”.