Not that you asked

Friday, July 27, 2001

by: John Boxley

I had several topics in mind for this week, and I couldn't decide which one to write about, so I thought 1 would just mention all of them in one column. This way I don't have to put much thought into any of the subjects, which some of you might think I am guilty of every week anyway.

Consider first the issue of advertising prescription drugs on TV and other mass media outlets. I wrote a column against that practice some time ago, and three recent developments have reinforced my arguments. For one, the AMA has recently come out against the practice. They have the same antiquated idea that I do that doctors, not patients, are the ones who should prescribe medicine.

Second, a consumer group released a study that shows that the leading drug companies are spending most of their money not on research and development but on marketing. For years they have excused the high price of their products on research, and now we know that is a lie. They spend much more of their dollars on those ads.

Third, the drug companies have come out with a new ad campaign that doesn't promote any drug. It promotes their industry as wonderful people who save lives. Nothing is said about the nice profit they make by doing so. You may have seen one of these commercials. One features a woman who survived breast cancer, while another one has a father telling how some miracle drug saved his daughter from leukemia. They both say that if it hadn't been for these wonderful drug companies, death would have been the only option. The only thing missing from the ad is a shot of the CEO of one of these companies riding up on a white horse as it fades out.

I can't wait for this consumer group to put out ads with people telling their stories about how they lost a loved one because the drugs that could have saved them were either too expensive or not covered by their insurance. That would really be truth in advertising.

Second Topic: Stem cell research- As I understand it the argument against using embryonic stem cells is that it kills the embryo, but they are going to be taken from embryos that were going to be thrown away. In other words, they're going to be killed anyway. These people that are against this research should be arguing against the practice of discarding the embryos, not taking cells out of them that could hold the key to curing everything from Parkinson's Disease to paralysis.

Interestingly enough, even some anti-abortion advocates are for stem cell research. One such person said that these embryos weren't really life because they weren't inside a woman's womb. With thinking like that Clinton could have used him during the Lewinsky mess.

Final Topic: The Tax Cut-Last week the government sent out notices to everyone telling them how much they would get back, and when they would get it. That's government logic for you. They spent hundreds of thousands of our dollars to tell us we were going to get a small part of it back.

Let's be honest, this tax cut is nothing more than a political gimmick. The reason we are given for the cut is to stimulate the economy by increasing spending. Most of you will get back just enough to make one purchase. It isn't going to change your spending habits. Heck, most of us will end up putting it in our gas tanks.

One last thought about the cut. Last week vice-president Cheney announced that the tax cut was already stimulating the economy. That's incredible since the checks hadn't been sent out yet. If he keeps making statements like that, it might actually seem that Bush is the guy running the show.

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