Pill Popper Part II

Yesterday’s blog entry had some readers up in frenzy. Many stood behind the pharmaceutical industry, citing benefits derived directly from this industry.

Those who disagreed with my entry did not understand the point behind the entry however. I agree that there are times when traditional medicine is useful and perhaps necessary. I am not against the entire industry. One of my best friends and a former college roommate is actually a pharmacist.

My problem is not with a specific pill, but rather the actions of major pharmaceutical companies who feel the need to deceive the public. Why does this industry need to market so heavily (billions of dollars) to the general public?

Years ago, I worked as a landscaper while paying my way through college. One of our clients was a senior level executive at Pfizer (at the very top of the food chain). His “summer home” was as close to a palace as I have ever seen. This was no home. This was a mansion, and then some…

When I pulled up to the gates of this mansion, my first thought was, “Whoa, what does this guy do for a living.”

Regardless of your perception of the pharmaceutical industry, we need to realize that this industry is in business to make money. These corporations are raking in millions and millions of dollars.

If we lived in a healthy world, this industry would go belly up. If no one was sick, there would be no need for pills.

I agree that there are times when medicine is required, but why focus so much attention to the pill? Why not instead focus on preventive measures? Why not change our lifestyles in a way that prevents, minimizes, and potentially eliminates the need for traditional medicine?

Like it or not, but the foods that you put in your body DO contribute to your health and longevity. If you fill your body with artificial chemicals, it will catch up to you. I don’t care what a 12 week study suggests. Look at the big picture.

Jack Lalanne is a perfect example. We should all follow in his footsteps. Many believe he has found the fountain of youth. His combination of natural foods and regular exercise seem to be more effective than any lifestyle that is centered around a constant supply of pills to pop.

Pop those pills at your own risk…



  1. I am a scientist and work in the pharmaceutical industry. I agree with what ross says because you have to understand the context in which he says it. There are diseases which can be avoided by proper diet and exercises (lifestyle diseases). Pharmaceutical industry makes a huge amount of money selling drugs to combat lifestyle diseases. Now why does the pharmaceutical industry need this money?

    It needs this money to stay afloat. The cost of making a new drug is very very high. Once a drug is discovered and patented, it has a patent life of 20 years, 10 years of which goes into clinical trails. The cost of research and clinical trials till the drug can be marketed is about $500mil. Pfizer has an R&D budget of $7 billion. According to a study only 1-2 in 30 drugs make it through with all 3 stages of clinical trials. How is the money lost recovered? There are two ways: Sell the drugs which pass the clinical trails at mindblowing prices and promote drugs related to lifestyle diseases.

    Coming back to the original point. If a person works out regularly and has a proper diet, he does not need pills aimed at lifestyle diseases. But if the person gets cancer, he will need proper medication and treatment. There are pills that can be avoided. Lets avoid those.

  2. I agree with your statement that people fall back on pills more than they have to. I feel that they, just like anything in life, should be taken in moderation and at the right times. I feel this is as junk food, too much homework, or in fact anything in life. I guess the old saying “Moderation is the key” really applies anywhere. btw, great link about Jack Lalanne. I never knew where it all came from until now.

  3. One of my points however is that even with diseases such as cancer… let’s focus on preventing the disease.

    Once again, the choices that we make in life (ex. the foods that we consume) do (in some way) contribute to our long-term health and risk of disease.

    Our society is too quick to turn to the pill, rather than changing their daily lifestyles in a way that would promote longevity.

    This all falls back to the blog entry from earlier this week:


    As stated in a quote from the referenced article,

    “Once, food was all you could eat, but today there are lots of other edible foodlike substances in the supermarket. These novel products of food science often come in packages festooned with health claims, which brings me to a related rule of thumb: if you’re concerned about your health, you should probably avoid food products that make health claims.”

    And as for the need to generate revenue, this may be partially true, but if you saw the summer home that a Pfizer executive was sporting, you may have at least a shift in opinion.


  4. Great set of posts Ross. I just wrote about this this morning on my own blog. I always find myself laughing and shaking my head at these commercials, knowing that there are people out there going “I need that”, “oh and I need that too.” Big Pharma has gone from an industry providing useful drugs (insulin for diabetics) to an industry promoting drugs for made-up illnesses.

  5. Absolutely Ross, people get so upset because we have a nation full of people who talk the talk, but when the situation arises they back down and grumble to themselves. We do indeed have a nation full of people dependent on pills for everything. They believe that life is so much easier. These are the same people who are afraid of the great outdoors, and those who wouldn’t last a day in a third world country with minimal utilities. We have a soft nation who is slowly deteriorating it’s ability to survive outside of it’s comforts. If people want to pop pills, let them, and when their health gets worse and worse, and they pop more pills to counteract the effects of their old ones, then they can look back at this blog and realize that every step of the way, they had control of their actions, and chose to take the easy way out. Robert Frost said it best when he described the “Road Less Traveled By”.

  6. Ross makes an excellent point – prevention rather than amelioration. Clean diet and regular exercise ought to be the pescriptions from doctors for good health. The fact is that a majority of pharmaceutical products do not cure disease, they simply make them more tolerable. The real question is “Why do we get sick in the first place?” A great book on the subject is “Never Be Sick Again” by Raymond Francis.

    It talks about how diet, toxic environmental factors and stress can negatively affect one’s health. My family and I have been following the practices outlined in the book and I personally have not been ill for the past year. Could be luck, but as a rule in the past I would catch a major flu at the change of the season into fall and out of winter. No such thing occurred this year.

    Everyone deserves and can attain good health. It just requires a little attention to the matter to accomplish it.

  7. Frequent visitor but first time responder. I first have to say that this is the best physical, mental, and inspirational site on the net, I simply appreciate all the content on here. I couldn’t agree with ross more on this subject, we live in a capitalistic society with the primary goal to make money. These pharmaceticals are in existent to make money, and when money is the prime motivator we all get bamboozled into believing their products actually have a purpose. I don’t think drugging society is the answer, rather exercising and eating the right natrual foods are the ultimate drug that will cure society.

    Stay Strong,

  8. Didn’t Hippocrates say long ago that food is medicine? you are what you eat! Jack Lalanne, still going strong at 93, has advocated sensible diet and exercise for many years.

  9. Is the pharmaceutical indusrty motivated by health or wealth? Of the 1,200 medicines licensed between 1975 and 2000, commercial pharmaceutical firms developed only four drugs to treat tropical diseases. That’s 0.3% of the industries creativity devoted to developing medicines for the world’s least profitable 1.2 billion people. Sure seems like public health isn’t a major priority.

    Aravindan’s rhetoric, that pharmaceutical companies need to make lifestyle medicines to make profits to make medicines is as cicular as the pills we’re all popping. It’s a fine example of the muddled ethics that our society desperately needs to debunk.

    I’m convinced that many of the intelligent young scientists who join the pharmaceutical indusrty are motivated by deep humanitarian ambitions, Aravindan I’m sure is amongst them – but their ambitions don’t ammount to much in the face of career rewards, instituational presures, and the profession’s ethical guile.

    The best pills you can take are wholesome foods, exercise and a good dose of freindship. When was the last time your doctor gave that perscription?

  10. I found a recent segment on the news a bit disturbing, both in terms of the story itself, but also the way it was handled. It was about how there was a spike in the teen suicide rate.

    In the story, the only thing talked about in relation to it was the warning labels that were recently put on anti-depressant drugs for kids, lowering their use by 20% or so. They mentioned it was still too early to make direct links, but I was surprised by the narrow focus on drugs.

    Depression is serious and I know the anti-depressants help some people, but couldn’t the spike be caused by other factors like increasing trouble at home or pressures at school or any number of things? Maybe a lot of the suicides were people from Katrina effected areas, etc? Way more study needs to be on the individual teens than on the drug use rate IMO.

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