. . . Monday November 14, 2005

Popping the Pill Bubble?

Big pharmaceutical companies have been taking a bit of a financial hit lately as a few bad pills have hurt the outlook for the whole medicine cabinet.

Not to worry. They’ll be fine.

The one thing we are best at in this country is setting aside any misdeeds in the name of potential benefit. That’s what the whole torture debate is about after all. We all know it’s insane to legalize torture. And most of us know that there is no evidence that torture will actually lead to accurate evidence. But in the back of our collective mind we really don’t want to think about the details out there, we’re worried about the results back here.

And so it’s always been with the drug companies. We all know a lawyer or journalist who has worked on a case or a story involving a multi-global pharmaceutical company and we all know some of the behavior they exhibit is unthinkable even by normal anything-goes public markets standards.

But we all also know people who have something they need healed. And we put aside the bad behavior in the name of what we convince ourselves is the greater good.

The problems arise because no one keeps track of that moving line between what’s OK and what’s not OK. We’ve decided to look away altogether. Someone tells us about an innocent dude who’s been squatting in Gitmo for four years, or some bad blood or untested medicine that was sent to a village in Africa and we either plug our ears or write that person off as an extremist nutcase. We do that even when the source is someone who we’re pretty sure is smart and who’s work or opinion or brand we’ve trusted in the past.

This behavioral trend is understood and well manipulated by the Bush marketing team. Someone brings up a countering opinion or a fact that doesn’t fit and that person is attacked and slammed as being a liar or a kook. It feels good when they do that. It keeps the lid on a can none of us really likes to open.

Concentration is important!