Torching the Myths of Expensive Medicines

A Malawian man, weakened by AIDS, stammers. He is overwhelmed.

Doctors have just told him he will be among the first to receive newly affordable AIDS medicines. Given the previously high cost of these drugs, he could not have expected relief from his illness except through a death that would soon come.

Now, he says he will accept the new medicines “with all my heart.”

This is just one of the arresting scenes in the new documentary Fire in the Blood detailing the lives saved because AIDS activists brought down the global cost of AIDS drugs in the early 2000s. But despite this, today’s pricing structure of many essential medicines—just as then—shows no “heart.”

Patent protections allow for inflated monopoly pricing and keep generic drugs, which are cheaper, from going to market. Secret international trade deals impose the pharmaceutical companies’ high prices on foreign nations. And corporate lies about drug innovation fool people into believing that high prices are inevitable.

But Fire in the Blood asks us to see the successes of the struggle for affordable AIDS medicines as a rallying cry for action today.

The film features intellectual property activist Jamie Love from Knowledge Ecology International, a grantee of the Open Society Foundations. During the height of the AIDS crisis, he did not accept that AIDS drugs should be unaffordable. He and others kept digging until they found how little it could really cost to treat AIDS with generic ingredients and at-cost production—less than one dollar a day.

What astonished Love was that, because of corporate influence, no government or international body had tried or even seemed want to answer that question.

A panel discussion last week at Doctors Without Borders examined why this was so, and explained that people all over the world still cannot afford the medicines they need to survive—whether for hepatitis C, cancer, or tuberculosis. The film’s director, Dylan Mohan Gray, chastised the media for eagerly believing the myth that drug research and development justifies high drug pricing—even though it accounts for less than 4 cents of every dollar of revenue, and they spend magnitudes more on marketing.

Open Society’s Els Torreele, who heads our access to medicines work, sat on the panel and told a story from an unfamiliar side. With a background in biomedical research, she spoke passionately about the scientists she knows who feel shackled by their corporate employers.

These experts yearn to use their skills to develop new life-saving medicines, but their companies have them chasing non-innovative medicines, like redundant copies of fad drugs that are easy to market. Selling us drugs they can convince us we need but don’t is better for company shareholders.

And the situation at universities is not much better. Public research funding is often geared toward pharmaceutical company priorities instead of addressing public health needs.

This system is failing patients across the world.

An important first step to fixing this is to change the narrative about why our expensive medicines are expensive. Fire in the Blood is a vital reminder that this change is possible, and that we must win these same struggles of behalf of other live saving medicines.

For more information on the film, visit the Fire in the Blood website.

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This is the same Government-BigPharma-HealthcareIndustry-FDA conspiracy that prohibits the use of endigenous medicines such as cannabis from being used by the people who need them in order to protect the billions of dollars in profits that are being made at the expense of the lives and health of persons who cannot afford the patented and FDA-approved versions derived from naturally occurring medicines which should be free and not the blood money of a capitalistic healthcare monopoly that values profits over saving lives!

In my home Country, there is a recently ongoing debate about non-affordable medical treatment for patients with kidney problems!

As this debate is ongoing I tend to be reminded of the heroic struggles for HIV & AIDS treatment a couple of years back and conclude that we can take lessons from that past in ensuring that no human lives are lost due to this myth!

I get more concerned that our government does not seem to be making any attempts at coming to the rescue of these patients that are required to fork out a hefty amount of M 3000.00 a month for dialysis in an economy where 40,000 of its' workforce only earn less than M 1000.00 a month!

I keep asking myself:' Why this insensitivity?'.

Is it pure insensitivity or is it drug pharmaceutical companies that are behind this myth in a country where kidney illness has become so common making its' treatment as essential as that of AIDS!

My simple conclusion is simply that the 'fattened' brains of our political leaders have been dubbed by these companies of the expense of this treatment while actually making hefty profits when People are dying for an illness that could otherwise be treated.

The greed of the modern world has come to put profits above human life!!

Profits: a way.
Power: the ultimate goal.
Control the biosphere: seeds, food, fertilizers, farmers, herbal products, medical drugs, medical schools, health care.
A road to serfdom we must stop, with democratic power.

I work with HIV affected people in India where the government provides free antiretroviral drugs produced locally. When you look at the cost of these same drugs to UK National Health Service they are way over priced even though said to be off patent. I wonder why NHS can't buy them from India. Indian laws are very favorable towards generics and there have been some goodd rulings on "evergreening" recently. So some things are good!


Please list the chemicals or your source for them if you would be so kind, thanks.

Following should at least begin to answer your question:
Cannabinoids are a class of diverse chemical compounds that activate cannabinoid receptors on cells that repress neurotransmitter release in the brain. .... There are at least 85 different cannabinoids isolated from cannabis, exhibiting varied effects.[5]

Health (like, life) is a right, and not a privilege.

I would advice Jose Carranza to stop being pig headed and go and read for himself about the findings on marijuana. He apparently is one of those myopic doctors who prefer by all means to poison people with toxic chemicals that do not work.

I have a career history of developing new medicines, implantables and devices. I through my corporation developed a broad range of nutraceutical medicines and had one MD tell me I have a gift, a calling to bring my new medicines to the people of the world. Following bilateral rotator cuff surgery, using my proteolytic enzymes I approached three times the projected rate of recovery and my surgeon said "I am a case for the Journals". I have been threatened with arrest by ignorant Newport Beach Police, had my yacht raided, had all my medicines stolen with authorities refusing to do anything even when I identified their whereabouts. Fact: Chicago organized crime controls the Pharmaceutical Industry and they are part of the black cabal. They created the laws as barriers to trade to preserve their monopolies.

They control the FDA which is why Director Krout stated he would never allow any company without "infinite" financial resources to bring a new drug to market. People are expected to suffer and die to preserve the corrupt maintenance system. Now the FDA wants to enforce a provision of an earlier bill giving them the authority to require clinical trials (5 to 7 million dollars and 5 to 7 years minimum) on any new dietary supplement or nutraceutical medicine. This is why a 2000 WHO report rated American medicine 37th in the world, one place ahead of Slovenia.

The amazing part is in the comments. :-)

I agree with Sam Bhattacharya (above) that "Health (like life) is a right." But I question the assumption that only drugs can deliver it, when so many people around the world have proven that health has a spiritual, rather than a material, basis. The book "Science and Health, with Key to the Scriptures," by Mary Baker Eddy, is worth a read--by doctors and theologians alike.

Is what Jose Carranza indicating the whole truth? What are the 400 chemicals? Are there any of them that can be used for medical and other works? What are the properties of the 400 chemicals? What research has been conducted to that effect? What were the findings? Are there any possibilities of using the cannabis plant for timber and its by-products? How about the manufacture of ropes? I hear that Cannabis timber cannot be eaten by termites? Is there a good Samaritan to guide us on this? I hear also that Cannabis is useful to treating ear infections which are predominant in infancy. Any findings to help us argue objectively? Why are people incarcerated for possession? Is it possession which is wrong or is it the effects that come with use? What is the link between possession and harm? What reformatory programs are there for offenders? How helpful are they? Are they based on equity or it's simply equality? What is our interpretation of the PUBLIC HEALTH way of Primary, Secondary and Tertiary interventions? How helpful can this interpretation be to the following persons:
- Non-Drug users?
- Users without personal or inter-personal bio-psycho-social-spiritual problems?
- Users who present with Bio-psycho-social-spiritual problems?

Let's Talk.

Drugs are dangerous, it kills and could lead to complete extinction of the human race. The whole world must wage war to eradicate it. And the war must be now.

Thanks everyone for sharing your thoughts here -- impassioned and vital. In particular, my compliments go to Sam B for being at once so concise and so correct.

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