I submit that the profit motivation of medical treatment is one such cause. Time was when doctors visited their patients at home using a mixture of folk remedies, patent medicines and their own concoctions to relieve the apparent symptoms. The doctor often had a bag of pharmaceuticals that he often prescribed and he would leave a week’s dosage behind with hand-scribbled instructions for the local druggist. Medicine was a skilled profession and paid a modestly high wage as reward for long and costly training.
The second major assault on the sick and elderly was the point where the druggists, highly trained apothecaries whose main job was the compounding of chemicals and natural elements into custom treatments for individual sufferer. Urban life and the diseases of crowded living meant that sales of medicines skyrocketed the profits of corporate drug manufacturers and their high-commission sale forces, who worked the doctors offices with kickbacks and outright bribes for most of the last century with the blessing of the medical associations, both national and state. The drug peddlers discovered that even the tiniest change in the formulation of a product allowed the company to get a new patent. Thus, the multitude of brand name cures offered over the counter and by script.
Meanwhile, prescription medication is now the leading choice of recreational drugs by “abusers” as young as third grade, where ADD kids have established a black market trade in “happy pills” Tops of the pops is Ritalin, prescribed by so many teachers of “problem students” whose only desire is to turn them into quiet zombies staring into space for most of the period. These prescriptions are issued by the teachers and schools without parental or medical oversight.
The cure is obvious, but none of our political leaders will even discuss it.
Using Obama’s health care system as a base from which operate, the government must take control of the drug industry, its economics, research and distribution. Harsh enforcement of standards and malpractice awards might move reform forward.
The doctors monopoly needs to be broken up, with med schools concentrating on producing as many doctors as possible, trained under policy devoid of overworked internships and other exclusionary practices that guarantee that only the obsessive and greedy will survive to get their diplomas. A review of drug prescriptions by individual MDs could clarify where the flood of street abuse originates.
The bottom line is making health care a human right, to be delivered by a government that cares more for people than profits.
EDITOR’S NOTE: After writing this column and emailing it on Thursday, Travus T. Hipp, a longtime radio commentator and contributor to the Sparks Tribune, died at his home in Silver City. His long-running tagline described him as “The Poor Hippy’s Paul Harvey,” and though he was a member of the Nevada Broadcasters Hall of Fame he was described as unemployable in the Silver State due to his eclectic political views. Those views made him a truly unique part of the Sparks Tribune for many years.