Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Resistance is the Question

By Rich Kozlovich

This article appeared entitled, Resistant Tuberculosis Sweeps Across Europe at ‘Alarming Rate’ which naturally started me thinking about bedbugs and how they have become a plague due to pesticide resistance, and why we are having this problem. The answer is the same in both cases; government interference.

Let’s start with the problem with TB. There are a number of strains of TB that are resistant to very resistant to normal antibiotic treatments. The current answer is to blast them with a battery of drugs that have to be taken over a long period of time and in the right sequence.

To understand why this is becoming a major problem, even beyond the problem with TB, we have to understand a number of things about pharmaceuticals, bacteria, cost analysis and criticism of drug companies. First, let’s start with the fact that bacteria are really tough little devils. They have developed ways of defeating or deactivating antibiotics in ways that have researchers stumped. That is an expensive obstacle to overcome, and the drug companies won't start working on things that may cost a billion dollars to develop and then told they have to sell their drugs at cost or even give them away. This has been done, especially involving HIV/AIDS drugs.

In an article from the American Enterprise Institute they outline the problem in a much broader way than most of the information you read. There is a lot of criticism of the pharmaceutical companies that is in my opinion completely accurate. They spend a lot of money on ‘me too’ drugs, they spend a lot on advertising and promotion (part of which is giving drugs to doctors), and they spend a lot on administration. Probably all true, but so what…it is their money, it is their company and it should be their choice. This whole argument is a logical fallacy because their critics are mixing their sense of morality and social responsibility with a company’s right to run their business as they see fit, which is based on profitability. Who has the right to decide which direction a company should go, or how socially responsible a person or a company has to be?

These companies are in business to make money, not to do charity. How can you force someone to turn his company into a charitable institution? You can’t if you want them to continue producing new pharmaceuticals. If a company chooses to go the route of social responsibility as outlined by the activists I don’t have a problem with that because they have to right to do so. If they choose a path of social responsibility based on profitability, I not only don’t have a problem with that, I applaud them. Because they will be around producing life saving products long after those who give their products away (if they really exist) Furthermore, no matter how convoluted the problems over patent rights and patent extensions become, eventually these products will go out of patent and become public domain, and will be allowed to be produced by anyone, provided that they are developed in the first place; but then, that is the rub isn’t it? If there are no patent rights that are honored there will be no profits; and then there will be no drugs to become generic.

Of course we could have the government pay them or force them to follow the politically popular path, but his must not be the answer. Most of the rest of the world has socialists systems in place that allows the government to set all sorts of standards regarding medical care and medicines. They are also the ones telling U.S. pharmaceutical companies to give them the products at reduced prices, or give it to them outright and even demanding patent privileges. Let’s face it; if that system worked they would be developing the new and most effective products themselves, and the world would be beating a path to their doors. Drug companies are criticized for all sorts of things, and I think most of those criticisms are true, but these are red herring attacks, it still doesn’t change the fact that they are in business to make money and have the right to follow a course of action that is the most profitable, and they need to be applauded for it. This is a case of enlightened self interest, although many or even most will categorize it as greed. If that is what it takes to save lives I don’t have a problem with it. What all businesses require in order to give life to and possibly expand their companies are profits. If they can’t recoup their costs and make money (and I'm not talking wage money here) they will not produce the life saving products that mankind needs. This is a clear cut case of capitalism versus socialism; individual initiative versus central planning. This brings me back to bed bugs.

When the boys came back from WWII bed bugs were ubiquitous; Why? Because they were here when they left! Bed bugs have been with humanity for eternity. So how did the United States become the first country in the history of the world to eliminate bed bugs? We produced DDT and allowed the public to buy and use it. The answer in 1945 was inexpensive, easy to use chemistry that was available to everyone, i.e. DDT. When they became resistant to DDT we switched to malation and other organophosphates, and long with carbamates we finished off bed bugs. They have only returned because of the EPA's insane hate of pesticides and the unscientific regulations they impose. Remember...they don't ban anything any longer. They created hurdles that work even better because banning requires science. These hurdles only required corruption of thought and science... or lack thereof!

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