doctors, pharmaceutical manufacturers & priorities

This past weekend I worked with students at Kaneland High School to create a new play, which they’re producing in November. It’s pretty exciting, and I’ll write more on the process tomorrow.

But, today, I received an email from the director, my mother, and I want to address it. The question regarded how I characterized doctors in the play based on one line:

“The videos he left behind for me to learn were FAC-inating! Legalizing, regulating, doctors sharing with patients! That’s me. A regular Dr. Like Seuss…only I make the things he wrote about HAPPEN!”

This character talks about his father, who was a pharmaceutical manufacturer (the target here, not the doctors), and he taught his son how to make more drugs (after all the adults died). The character’s created a place where he enslaves other teenagers to create “chemical candy” for his own personal pleasures. I’m not trying to say all doctors are “bad.” That’s a gross generalization, and it’s not what the play is about. The note took issue with the idea that I’m demonizing doctors as people don’t provide any real service, or who are only feeding patients medicine that doesn’t really help them.

Doctors do “share drugs with patients.” General practitioners put people on anti-depressants all the time as a “band-aid” for bigger problems (or for people who don’t have problems at all). I’m certainly not suggesting we get rid of doctors. This whole scene, which takes place in an old pharmaceutical manufacturing plant, is a commentary on the Pharmaceutical industry focusing all their time on making drugs like Zolft, etc., spending all their money marketing these drugs, and not spending the same time and money on vaccinations for HIV or H1N1 flu virus. There is no reason we shouldn’t have a vaccination for either of these viruses; however, people are chomping up Prozac and Paxil like candy.

Every year overdoses from prescription medications are growing, and it’s due, in part, to doctors over prescribing and patients having too much freedom to get whatever drug they want whenever they want. To wit: “1 in 5 teens has abused a prescription (Rx) pain medication. Cocaine, Ecstasy and methamphetamine are each roughly half as prevalent as prescription drug abuse.” These companies are poisoning our youth (and our adults).

The other problem I’m addressing is Americans (especially) eat fast food, sit in front of computers and televisions for hours on end, and when our bodies start falling apart, we wonder why we need surgical procedures and extreme diets to aid our ails. We need to maintain our bodies, not fix them when they break down.

If we continue allowing pharmaceutical and insurance companies to drive production based on “making people feel better” and “if you can afford it,” doctors continue being slaves to these companies. This is where I believe some doctors have gone wrong. They rely on quick fixes that only temporarily help – or worse yet, they make people believe they were helped when they’re only sedated (ironically, this sedation also contributes to the sloth-like society in which we currently live). They receive kick backs from pharmaceutical companies, and that is a real shady game.

Do I think doctors are generally good, save and improve lives? Of course I do. Do I think pharmaceutical companies have grip of addiction on many Americans and push their agenda through compromised physicians who are paying for a summer house, a speed boat or a new car? Absolutely. Greed drives the companies, and greed drives these doctors.

As far as the moment in the play, the note certainly made me think about this issue more in depth, and if anything, I realize I need to clarify what the scene says. That’s the best thing to come out of this. If the play gets better, this whole thought tangent was worth it.

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