154. Drug Dealing for Fun and Profit

I finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up – a drug lord.  I want to own a pharmaceutical company.  What a gravy train!

Here’s some of the reasons pharmaceuticals might seem like a winning source of income for you, too.

1.  Where else can you produce a pill for a penny and then charge $35 for it?  Every night my son Matt has to take one such drug, and I never cease to be awed at the entrepreneurial moxie behind such a phenomenal markup.

2.  In the pharmaceutical game, you can do just about anything you want to do.  Like with the Columbia drug lords, there’s no troubling price regulation or checks and balances to muddy up the profits.

3. You’re allowed to solemnly tell big fibs.  Pfizer recently announced that it costs their company about 15 billion dollars to develop a single drug, and nobody snickered or asked to see the books.  No matter how much you inflate your so-called research and development, nobody will challenge it.  And you don’t even have to mention that billions of dollars for that expense is actually federally funded.  Or that some of the drugs are developed in other countries.  You’ll love being able to play “Let’s Pretend” and many of the other kiddies will join right in.

. Whenever one of your patents on a drug is expiring, you can jump right in, change a single molecule on it, give it a new name and introduce it as a brand “new” product, with a new 20 year patent. You can easily claim that it cost billions for “research and development”.   Whee!  Most of the drugs that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves each year fall into this category.  They call them “Me Too” drugs. They’re fine with it. As an example, at last count, there are now six drugs on the market to lower cholesterol: Mevacor, Lipitor, Zocor, Pravachol, Lescol, and the newest, Crestor, all variants of the first.  So be creative. And, of course, you can raise the price, because it’s “new”.  Talk about easy money!  Kinda like selling the Brooklyn Bridge over and over again only more legal and more profitable.

5. As a by-product of your participation in the pharmaceutical industry you may help save the magazine publication business.  The drug companies are now spending more than twice as much on advertising than they are on research and development.  I appreciate how they’re saving Time magazine, for instance.  Each issue has featured multiple full page ads for various drugs, and the price of those ads is more than you’d be spending on craigslist.  Recently, Time included a whole section that must have been six or eight full page ads.  You could finance another war with that much money.

There are those soreheads out there who think the whole industry is oozing with rapacious greed.  They might advise you against going into it as your dream job, but don’t you listen to them.  There are naysayers everywhere and you must learn to ignore them.

Take this lady, as an example.  Marcia Angell, M.D.  She’s a physician who lectured at the University of Washington.  She wrote a book called The Truth About the Drug Companies: How They Deceive Us and What to Do About It. (September 2010)

And dear me, here she is in person, spouting her very radical ideas. Listen in and tell me what you think.


This is a review of her book from the New York Review of Books. http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2004/jul/15/the-truth-about-the-drug-companies/

Hmm.  Maybe I should give my investment advice to you a little more thought.  Maybe the pharmaceutical industry isn’t the place we should invest all our future lottery winnings, after all.  What do you think?

All kidding aside, below is a lecture Dr. Angell gave at the University of Montana last year.  It’s an hour long but it’s fascinating.  I hope you can make time to watch it.


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2 Responses to 154. Drug Dealing for Fun and Profit

  1. Denise says:

    Ummmm….in case you haven’t heard…. THE GREEN BAY PACKERS ARE THE WORLD CHAMPIONS!!! Best game EVER!!!

  2. Gretchen Covey says:

    Great info, Mom. As always, clever writing. Hard to believe the pharmaceutical companies are getting away with this.

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