Above us, Only Sky

Politics, Philosophy, Science, and Everything Else.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

In which I reveal my conservative side

I read a book review for a book that purports to expose the bad behavior of big pharma. I'm not actually surprised by any of the so-called 'revelations', namely, that these companies spend a lot more money on marketing thanm on research, and a lot more research dollars on 'lifestyle' drugs (read: erectile disfunction) than on things that might actually save some lives. Why is this surprising, or even shocking? These are corporations: they exist to cerate profit. People within them are judged accoprding to how they enhance profit, in a well run corporation the people who can make the most money are put in the top spots. Of course they're going to spend a lot on marketing- it's better to actually sell products that you have than to invent new product lines. When dealing with a corporation, you must assume it will do absolutely whatever will make it more money in a given situation. So-called 'corportae responsibility' is probably a combination of public relations, employee relations (who wants to work for a pariah?), and liability-avodance. To expect big pharma to do any different because some of their products are medicine is absurd.
In order to get such companies to do the 'right thing', you just have to structure how they can profit accordingly. If you want companies to conform to a regulation, make non-conformance more expensive than any profit they could ever recieve from ignoring the rules. If you want them to do useful medical research, make it profitable, by gaurenteeing the copyrights. It's hard to disagree with third-world governments ignoring copyright rules on medicine when they have a medical crisis, but in the long term this means that the companies who do this sort of research will stop- their profits aren't reliable, so why should they spend the capital?
Basically I think we need to stop thinking of our corporations the way their PR departments want us too. Neither should we cripple them with stupid laws and taxes. They are an extremely powerful force, and should be used towards the goals we hold as a society.


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