With criticism of soaring drug prices continuing to grow, health data firm IMS Health has forecast that the pharmaceutical industry’s annual global sales will increase by 30 percent to reach a dizzying 1.4 trillion dollars by 2020. Worryingly, the forecast furthermore predicts that by the same year more than half the world’s population will be living in countries where drug use will exceed one dose per person per day. Driven by the skyrocketing prices of new drugs, scandalous price rises for existing ones and disease-mongering propaganda that attempts to place entire populations into at-risk groups requiring drug treatment, there can now be no doubt that the “business with disease” is financially unsustainable. Unless mankind is therefore able to free itself from the strangulating grip of the Pharma Cartel, national healthcare systems will become increasingly at risk of bankruptcy.
To put the figure of $1.4 trillion into perspective, if the pharma industry was a country, a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) equal to this amount would make it about the fourteenth wealthiest nation in the world. To look at it another way, of the 194 countries whose GDPs are listed on the World Bank’s website, the amount of $1.4 trillion exceeds the national incomes of 180 of them. The annual sales of drug company Novartis alone, at over $51 billion in 2014, exceed the GDPs of well over half the world’s countries.
But the pharmaceutical industry is not only unsustainable financially, it is also unsustainable from an environmental perspective. Evidence is growing worldwide that pharma companies are polluting the environment and that even our drinking water supplies are now contaminated with measurable amounts of dangerous chemical drugs.
A study published in 2009, for example, found that fish caught near wastewater treatment plants serving five major U.S. cities had residues of pharmaceuticals in them. Testing has also revealed that at least 46 million Americans are drinking water contaminated with pharmaceuticals. Meanwhile, scientists in the UK have found cancer drugs in tap water and rising levels of antidepressant drugs in coastal waters which they fear could seriously upset the natural balance of the ecosystem and potentially damage the food-chain. The world’s highest drug levels in water are believed to occur in India, where 21 different active pharmaceutical ingredients – at 150 times the highest levels detected in the U.S. – have been found.
When one additionally takes into account issues such as drug toxicity concerns, drug-induced illness and the funding of patient charity groups as a means of gaining influence, it becomes clear that the pharma industry is holding human health to ransom. In this respect it is equally apparent that governments, while aware of the facts, are failing dismally in their duty to properly regulate drug companies.
The UK provides firm proof of this in the form of a remarkable report, entitled ‘The Influence of the Pharmaceutical Industry’. Published in 2005 by the country’s House of Commons Health Committee, it was highly critical of the influence the drug industry has upon the practice of medicine and healthcare in the UK. However, the UK government’s official response to the report essentially ignored many of the key issues it had raised and effectively brushed aside some of its most important recommendations. Seemingly attempting to excuse this, the response tellingly stated that “the pharmaceutical industry is an important sector for the UK” and that “it has an outstanding record of innovation for the benefit of patients, and of investment in the economy.”
Ultimately, whichever way one looks at it, the pharmaceutical “business with disease” is utterly unsustainable. The sooner it can therefore be replaced with a truly preventative healthcare system, based on scientific breakthroughs in the areas of vitamin research and cellular health, the better it will be for both patients and national healthcare costs alike. Meantime, next time you are asked to donate to a patient charity group collecting money for drug research, remember that the pharmaceutical industry – a trillion dollar-a-year multinational enterprise – doesn’t need your financial support.