What do you say to people who think “Big Pharma” is hiding a cure for cancer from us?
Let’s see the sequence of events and the players who would have to be all on the same page to hide a cure for cancer by a Big Pharma company.
There’s this brilliant scientist, Dr. Jennifer McFly, who leads a team of other brilliant people working out of East Snow Dump, Massachusetts site of the Big Pharma company. These people are very smart. I mean they were glasses, lab coats, know how to use pipettes, can do multiplication in their head, and all.
Without going into the complicated and boring details of drug discovery, let’s say this brilliant bunch discovered the “cure” for cancer.
With that info, Jason can write and publish papers, do presentations at prestigious conferences, will have his name on all the patent paperwork, be a rockstar of the healthcare industry, have his picture on magazine covers etc. He may also win the Noble Prize, be on the list of Time’s most influential people and be invited to dine with the royalties and the heads of state. There may be a bunch of other accolades but this is just a start. I mean his team just cured cancer.
Then there is Marty Lanster, the head of the analytical group. Jason just couldn’t find the cancer treatment on his own, he needed the analytical lab to analyze his samples. He’s brilliant but not that brilliant. He needs analytical people to run the assay and verify the results.
When the analytical results proved that they’ve cured cancer, Mary was ecstatic. After all, she lost her father to cancer which is why she joined the pharma industry to begin with. She’s also looking forward to co-authoring the paper by contributing the analytical section.
Well, you can’t just say that you’ve cured cancer. You need to prove that it will work in mammals. That’s where Dr. Jack Holding who’s running the clinical trial program for the Big Pharma company comes into the picture. His group ran the clinical trials on rats and humans to prove that the damn thing will work on humans. He can publish his own work in the field in addition to putting it on his LinkedIn profile.
Then there are quality, and development, and tech services, and operators, etc. and it takes ~15 years to develop a new drug.
So, you have literally hundreds of people working over ~15 years on something.
Now let’s talk about someone who’s likely to benefit the most from this discovery – the CEO of the company.
The poor guy has to answer to the Wall Street analysts every quarter and tell them how the company is going to make more money. Instead of new vitamin pills, he’s got the cure for cancer. Literally the only thing that will stand between life and death. The society will figure out a way to pay for it. The patients pay a lot more for a lot less health benefits and he’s got the holy grail of the healthcare industry. The company stock will double or more just by the announcement. He’s guaranteed a huge bonus and a permanent place in the healthcare history. The future generations will know his name as the CEO of the company that cured cancer. His kids may start liking him again.
But none of this people share this with public, not even their families or friends when they get drunk at a summer bbq. No, they all kept it a secret. Not even a peep. Not as much as a tweet or a Facebook post.
What can they possibly gain or lose by keeping this a secret? Is every person being bribed or threatened by the big pharma? And who’s bribing them? The CEO, CFO, the Board of Directors?
If you contributed in any way, shape or form to curing the cancer, you’re almost guaranteed a great career for the rest of your life. Not to mention, almost everyone has a loved one they lost to cancer or one battling right now. But every single person decides to hide this from the public.
If a bunch of truly evil people takes over a pharma company with a cure for cancer and try to hide it, there will be a shite-storm like never before. One tweet or a post or blog article is all it takes to bring something out in the public that was hidden before. Have you followed the biggest news stories of the last two years? Theranos? Weinstein? Spacey? Before you can memorize the bad guys’ names, they’ll be on the Capitol Hill saying, “Yes, Senator” and “No, Congresswoman” and “By the council of my lawyer, I choose to take the fifth on that question”.
But this question brings out a good point which I’ve been trying to emphasize.
On Quora, and at social gatherings and other forums, you will see people ask questions like this over and over again. And you can’t blame or be annoyed with the person who asked the question. You may have answered the question 20 times, but he had it for the first time. He googled and there’s not much available on the subject. He came across few movies and TV shows and they almost always portray the pharma industry as one-dimensional comically evil. So, he asked when he had an opportunity. But why did he ask the question?
It’s because of the available information the questioner has consumed. How can you blame him if that’s the only information available? There isn’t a single good source that explains the drug development in an informative, inspiring and entertaining way. I don’t mean some boring paper, but an engaging, creative tool. Something that can hold attention of a twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Youtube user.
Someone from the pharma industry has to prepare a tool to explain the drug development. It shouldn’t be that difficult or expensive. It should cost less than the cost of running one of those “Ask you doctor if Suckitall is right for you”. Then maybe the informed public will stop asking these type of questions and we can focus on the real issues.