The truism health is the most precious thing one has is 90% correct.
You only realize its true value after you lose it. But there is one even more important thing: FAMILY.
For without my loved ones I would not see a point in living or, put differently, I would prefer to be sick and next to them than without them.
But when profits come into play, we are never cured of anything but only managed, as “recurrent buy” yield more profits than one big lump sum.
Follow the Money
Encouraged by the very positive comments received on my previous article, from Bill and Frank, I will go further down the proverbial rabbit hole and showcase what my experience from inside the “belly of the beast” has taught me.
I have been offered a job in Marketing, the domain where I have training and experience, for a Pharma company. They offered about 2-3 times the pay I was getting at the time. I turned them down.
How would you feel if from say a salary of 50k you got offered 100k? A base of 100 and bonuses of another 50. Realistically 150k. More importantly: Why do they have such large funds available?
Because their profit margin is the highest of any industry. Running into the 5000%-10000% price increase from base substances to final product, sold into the store to an old lady who cannot see her grandchildren properly without X drug (1).
Talking about the term drug, I find myself staring at the signs that say “Drugstore” and contemplating why it is not called a Pharmacy as Europeans call them? Because it also sold initially substances that elevated pain, opioids including morphine and later on heroine!
Let me be clear, there are few forces in this world that brought more good to humanity than modern medicine. Anesthesia, root canals (tooth decay was the main reason people died in our not distant past) and antibiotics to name the most important. But when profits come into play one must take everything with a grain of salt. Which brings me to another marketing ploy my kind played on humanity.
Salt was very expensive. “Worth your weight in salt” comes to mind. But marketing men thought of a way not only to differentiate their product from the rest but also to increase profits. They came up with the idea that white salt is better looking, more pure and just better overall. This makes the “ugly” greyish one not desirable. By extracting the minerals (Calcium, Magnesium, Potasium just to name a few found in sea salt) from the salt they made it white(er) and created new products that they could add value to.
This created the hypertension epidemic we have now. As not too much sodium per say is the problem, but a lack of Potassium (mostly) to balance the sodium out (2). Continuing the “if it looks nice it is better” trend we can think about white bread. It used to be a darker color due to the whole grain used. And most of its nutrients are found in the hull. Whole grain bread was set aside for the “better looking” one that is also very unhealthy. Grain, consumed in moderation and from a healthy source and maybe, most importantly, when it is whole is not an issue. But because they could differentiate themselves from the “ugly” brownish “old” bread, they did.
But what is not known is that research shows that ancient hunter-gathers had cavities in at most 14% of their teeth, and some had almost no cavities at all. Then, roughly 10,000 years ago, humans learned to farm. Grain and other carbohydrates took over the plate, making the human mouth a haven for bacteria that destroy tooth enamel. Ancient farmers had cavities in up to 48% of their teeth (3).
It must be remembered too that in the pre-antibiotic era these bouts often lead to systemic infection and even death. In the early 1600s the London Bills of Mortality listed the causes of death and “Teeth” were continually listed as the 5th or 6th commonest cause of death (4).
I am well aware that the agricultural revolution allowed more time for thinking, inventing and developing. But this does not mean it was very healthy and it certainly does not mean that we need to make things worse by de-hulling the grain and increasing the profits of the companies.
And to finish up the “whiter is better” examples, in the first years of television, soaps and cleaning products were pushed very aggressively into the brakes between shows. The shows existed, as most do today, only to have the viewer remain in front of the TV or radio, until the next commercial and their quality, in most cases, was so low that it became obvious what thier purpose was, thus creating the expression “soap operas”.
My grandparents seldomly used soap to “disinfect their hands”, used antibiotics maybe a couple of times in their lifetime, played outside on the ground and never had sparkling tiles. They gave their immune system a rigorous training every single day of their life.
I have the upmost respect for military personnel, as I have had most of my teachers serve, as faith would have it, both in my former Soviet Satellite home country and the teacher I had when I came to the US. I am telling this next story to prove a point. The US forces were eating in the same meal hall (tent) with my countries service men. The doctors of the two companies were in a very heated debate.
What had happened is that the US soldiers had digestive issues for the last 2 weeks, since they came to the operational theatre, where as the former communist ones did not. The doctor from my country was making the point that the soldiers that were kept in perfectly sanitized conditions, with air conditioning units that also have purifiers and that alcohol is used on all surfaces had little training in urban-normal-living-germ-“warfare”.
As it turned out, the next week all the US soldiers were back in tip-top condition, as their immune system gained the needed experience. But money is pushed in advertising to convince us otherwise. So much money one could hardly believe the figures. Let us look at two examples:
Firstly, to settle lawsuits brought by patients who were injured and killed by drugs that include the painkiller Vioxx, which led to a $4.85 billion settlement with the drug maker Merck in 2010 (5).
Secondly, two German journalists showed that out of all the biggest 50 international conglomerates that most have profits of 1-2% of their Total Revenues (6). Walmart with its $500 Billion revenue has profits of 9 Billion (7) , that means 1.8%. Where companies like Pfizer have revenues of 50 Billion and profits of 25 Billion (8). So a WOPPING 50%.
And this is after they pay off with very significant salaries of marketing and sales people.
But they get paid for their “high degree of intellectual labor” as was the case with the cheerleaders that are hired to push your father’s or your wife’s drugs to your MD.
“Anyone who has seen the parade of sales representatives through a doctor’s waiting room has probably noticed that they are frequently female and invariably good looking. Less recognized is the fact that a good many are recruited from the cheerleading ranks” (9). And some even selling themselves to some doctors so they would get their bonuses.
There are 3 profession that hold up and push forward this civilization: teachers, doctors and law enforcement (also include here is the military). But sadly, there are rotten apples in any yard.
The commercials also benefit from very high budgets and their quality is stellar, I must say. But the message is grotesque, and they misinform and plain out lie on occasion. But that is subject to debate and I will steer away from a lengthy argumentation regarding omission and its effects.
I will however point out what was shocking to me as a European. Being used to different quality of commercials (voice, video, actors) and also different endings, to hear after seeing beautiful people smile and laugh and dance with their loved one, or holding their grandkids to their chest, to hear at the end:
“This might cause stroke, infarction, increase the risk of cancer and the risk of sudden death. Use XYZ for your skin challenge”. All whilst showing puppies or the grandson stroking’s the woman’s face.
By giving vary vague and general symptoms, if one watches TV long enough he will feel like he has ALL OF THEM.
Not only that they are stealing our money, they are making us sick and weak with the crutches of disinfectants. By all means, clean the house, but do not destroy the NATURAL flora found around us. Mother nature equipped us beautifully to fight it off and flourish after these training sessions, like a body builder gets better after a weight-lifting session.
Our bodies are extremely well adapted to survival on this planet and the bodies know very well what to do. But marketer’s minds are also extremely adept to seeing opportunities. As it is sadly proven by the Baby Killer Report published in 1974 (10). Nestle was donating powdered milk to mothers, which sounds good right? But besides the fact that it negates some nutrients that powdered version did not have, some enzymes it still does not have and the very important connection between child and mother, it also did something much worse.
They calculated that on average it takes 3 months of no suckling, so the mothers breast stops producing milk. Thus, after lactation stops and the baby still needs milk, they are FORCED to buy. When they add markup to the ingredients by a factor of 10X the 3 months free is a great advertising gamble.
Our bodies know what we need, are ready to protect us, and work 24/7 to do so. With a little help from nature, relaxation once in a while and, as I said in the beginning of the article, being with our family, we have the power to overcome a great many problems.
(1) The Drug With a 5,000 Percent Markup from The Atlantic
(2) Sodium Potassium Balance from Harvard Health Review
(3) Tooth Decay Archeology from USA Today
(4) Dental Health and Diseas in the Past from Digitised Diseases
(5) Big Pharma Has Higher Profit Margins Than Any Other Industry from AndrusWagstaff
(6) Klaus Werner, Hans Weiss. 2003. The Blackbook on Brand Companies.
(7) Walmart page on Wikipedia
(8) Pfizer page on Wikipedia
(9) Gimme an Rx! Cheerleaders Pep Up Drug Sales from The New York Times
(10) Baby Killed ebook from BabyMilkAction