Don't get me wrong. I'm grateful, really I am.
I routinely swallow pharmaceuticals that keep me alive (and cost over $2300.00 a month)-and because of the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), I don't pay full price for these meds. I know that if I'd been sick ten years earlier, I may not be alive today. And I know it's mostly because of scientific research and money from the pharmaceutical companies that I am living a healthy life. I know this and I'm grateful to them.
I'm grateful but I'm not an idiot.
Pharmaceutical companies are a business. A big business. If I think they're looking to save my sorry little ass solely out of kindness, beneficence, altruism and love, I'd be sorely mistaken. They're looking to make money. Saving my sorry little ass is just a side benefit. A very nice benefit for me and my ass, but a side benefit, nonetheless. Why?
Because big business is not personal.
So when we received this press release from PhRMA (The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America) about a new report detailing 97 HIV treatments in development, I got a little excited.
That fundamental part of me (that probably lives in you, too), the part that "wants to stick it to the man" got all passionate and ready to rumble. I thought of all the angles involving profits, drug prices, small company buyouts, etc. that I could use.
But I also heard from another part of me, the part that doesn't want to bite the hand that keeps me alive. The part of me that's thawing the turkey for dinner with my partner and family tomorrow. The part that's grateful.
So I'm doing the only smart thing I could think of.
I decided to offer my thoughts, the press release and report to Bilerico readers and watch the responses from enlightened, passionate people shape a discussion in ways that I never could.
Have a look:
New Report Shows 97 Medicines and Vaccines
Currently in Development for HIV/AIDS
Washington, D.C. (November 24, 2009) -- America's pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies are testing 97 medicines and vaccines to treat or prevent HIV/AIDS and related conditions, according to a new report [read it here] released today by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). December 1 marks the 21st anniversary of "World AIDS Day" - a global awareness campaign that originated at the 1988 World Summit of Ministers of Health on Programmes for AIDS Prevention.
"We are greatly encouraged by these critically important medicines and vaccines in development to treat and prevent HIV infection," says PhRMA President and CEO Billy Tauzin. "Pharmaceutical researchers are continuing their efforts to develop new therapies and vaccines to improve and lengthen the lives of HIV-infected patients."
The report found that the 97 products in development include 23 vaccines and 54 antivirals. These drugs are either in human clinical trials or awaiting approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Thirty-one medicines to treat HIV/AIDS have been approved since scientists first identified the virus that causes AIDS more than 20 years ago. The first HIV/AIDS medicine was approved in 1987, just four years after the virus was identified.
Although the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that more than 1 million Americans were living with HIV infection at the end of 2006, the increased availability and utilization of newer prescription medicines has helped to reduce the U.S. death rate from AIDS substantially in recent years, according to government statistics. In fact, the CDC estimates that since the introduction of highly active anti-retroviral therapy in 1995, the annual number of deaths in the U.S. due to AIDS has dropped by more than 70 percent.
Despite this progress, AIDS remains a devastating and growing health problem in developing countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, China, India and the Russian Federation. According to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, in 2007 an estimated 33 million people were living with HIV, 2.7 million were newly infected with HIV, and 2 million people died from the disease.
From 2000 to 2007, America's pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies contributed more than $9.2 billion to improve health care in the developing world, according to the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers & Associations.
The projects they supported included clinics to treat patients with HIV/AIDS, education and prevention programs, initiatives to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV, and donations of medicines for AIDS and related diseases. A number of companies also provide AIDS drugs at reduced prices in many countries.
"As a result of HIV/AIDS medicines, a disease that was once a virtual death sentence can now be controlled and treated as if it were a chronic disease," states Tauzin. "And the new medicines our scientists are working on right now bring hope for even more promising results in the future."
"While researchers are making exciting progress in the search for new treatments for HIV/AIDS, these efforts are wasted if the medicines that are developed don't get to the patients who need them," says PhRMA Senior Vice President Ken Johnson.
Help is available to patients in need through the Partnership for Prescription Assistance (PPA), a program sponsored by America's pharmaceutical research companies. To date, the PPA has helped more than 6 million patients nationwide. Since its launch in April 2005, the PPA bus tour has visited all 50 states and more than 3,000 cities."
And to be fair, the Partnership for Prescription Assistance has helped some people I know. But right now we face catastrophic crises in California, Chicago, many rural areas and much of the South regarding prescription medication funding and basic necessities for PWH(Persons with HIV). Prescription assistance is a great idea, and if you're losing meds funding/assistance, please, check into it immediately.
I just don't know if it will be enough to stem the rising tide of treatment failures from PWH who can't get their meds- which are may be coming down the pipeline a helluva lot faster than the aforementioned treatments.
But here's a thought: If so many persons will need to apply for prescription assistance, maybe the pharmaceutical industry will become more compassionate, caring and understanding in the face of huge losses of revenue.
~Sigh~ I'm such a cock-eyed optimist.
But enough about me. What do you think?