Medicine and the Mafia

Medicine today is a trade, the study of Medicine a business, the practice of medicine an Industry and the manufacturing of medicine – an organized Syndicate.

It is a vicious cycle. The drug manufacturers produce massive quantities of products and the demand for them is created by a well integrated distribution system, which has the noblest of professions by the scruff of the neck – thanks mainly to buying power of Money.

The entire eco system is a well linked chain. From the road side pharmacy, the scan centers, the test labs, the distributor to the manufacturer, there is a robust ‘Distribution based Commission Framework’ in place at every level of the transaction. The sales forces of these conglomerates use samples as a guise to meet doctors and actually end up transacting a business deal (rewards in cash, kind, holidays for families, gifts etc) for prescribing an agreed quantity of types of drugs. The doctor is linked to a local Pharmacist who are either attached to a hospital or has set up shop nearby. In most cases, the doctor’s themselves have some of their family members set up the pharmacy close to their hospitals or clinics. The doctor also has a hefty commission from the local labs, scan centers etc for every case registered through them.

Sheer statistics can be mind boggling. The cost of a CT Scan is anything between 9 to 10 thousand rupees in leading labs. Almost 50% of this cost is a commission to a Doctor!!!. The cost of a tablet for a common fever or a cold is less than 15 paise per tablet. The cost at which it is being sold in the retail stores vary between 1 to 5 Rupees. Now you know where our hard earned money between the 15 paise and the many rupees go . . . .

No wonder the colleges and institutions teaching the art of Medicine, are possibly one of the richest professions in the country charging hefty sums for admissions. This also has an cyclical effect on the students graduating out of these places, for they will need to recover the huge investments they have made to get into these colleges and the waiting Vultures, in terms of the Drug mafia have their best traps laid out fair and square, to grab these budding doctors into their vicious tentacles – adding another pawn to the vicious system.

Of late, the high performance industries like IT, Hospitality, R&D etc added portfolios to these vultures, with fifth generation diseases like Stress, Depressions and other psychological problems providing an avenue for easy money. These emotional imbalances are straightaway translated into a simplistic chemical imbalance in the body – lack of serotonin and one of the hoards of anti depressants are immediately prescribed to start the supply chain cash counters ticking. The serotonin loaded anti depressants normally have an immediate effect on the patient, for it is a known stimulant, of course with deadly long term effects, but who cares . . . The issue is, this is also a large trap the patient is walking into – constant use of stimulants are the first stages of drug addiction!!! Works perfectly for the mafia – another long term customer in the making . . . Our body is not just a chemical factory where you see a problem and attribute it to an increase or decrease in some chemical and then remove/add it accordingly and lo, the problem is gone. Definitely life forms are not that simple. We are much more than chemical combinations.

While we can keep adding to this vicious list, there is no simple solution to this. This is as serious as terrorism – only of a different kind and steps being taken currently to tackle terrorism will also be needed to address this global phenomenon – individually and collectively.

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