Saturday, 24 May 2014

Capitalism Kills

The sight of abject wretches living in absolute squalor and filth on the banks of the River Irwell in 1850’s Manchester was a key factor in the development of Frederich Engels' political thinking. Engels would be saddened to find over 150 years later that human beings have learnt very little. Poverty shortens lives. Absolute poverty kills. 

The news that diseases have evolved to become anti-biotic resistant has been prominent recently. The world was warned this would happen thirty years ago - and did very little. This time the warnings are sounding with great urgency.

Why does this matter? We have become so used to popping a course of antibiotics to treat throat infections and other everyday ailments that we take them for granted. Without their efficacy, many minor problems become potential killers. Scrapes and grazes which become infected can kill. Broken bones which pierce the skin can be lethal. Operations will revert to being as fraught with risk as they were at the the end of the 19th century.

So why aren’t the big pharmaceutical companies not making more and different antibiotics? That is a good question and the simple answer is that there is not enough profit in developing and producing antibiotics. Research time, development and testing are all costly. The finished product may be useful for small numbers of people and lose its effectiveness relatively quickly. No money to be made there! 

Unlike something like statins which can be taken by everyone over 40 and will keep the accountants happy for many a year……..Or Viagra which prevents erectile disfunction and is another nice little earner. 

Leaving matters of health to capitalists is in the short term dubious and in the longer term potentially deadly. 

Do you understand that concept messrs Lansley, Hunt and Cameron?

In the days of the Black Death, being wealthy was little protection against the plague.

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