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Underworld Inc - Fake Pharma

THE LIBERTARIAN POINT OF VIEW - CONT'D

Money, monopolies and regulations

This issue of fake pharma is all about money and not about protecting the people. Politicians impose ridiculous quality control and bureaucratic processes to pharmaceutical companies. All this overhead creates huge manufacturing costs which need to be passed on to the consumer. This is true for Generic as well as R&D-based pharma (i.e. brand name or big pharma). In return, R&D pharma gets patents which are licenses to sell their innovations with exclusivity for certain amount of time; this is, they get an artificial monopoly enforced by the state. And as with any other monopoly when it does exist it raises prices considerably. In this case the raise of prices is completely arbitrary. Again, high prices of patented medications are all due to the creation of artificial monopolies based on fake so-called Intellectual Property Rights (see Intellectual Property Compilation) enforced by the state at a substantial cost to the consumer (i.e. taxes) and at a bargain price for Big Pharma. It must be nice to have the power of the state protecting your profits.

To copy or not to copy

However, the most important consideration we must have is that big pharma welcomes all these regulations because they create a huge entry barrier into the market for generics. It delays competitors a great deal. Instead of having hundreds of pharma companies competing to develop the cheapest copy once the patent has expired, we only have a few, typically around 10 or 20 maximum. This creates an artificial shortness of supply keeping prices high even after the patent has expired. Of course, patented medications cannot be legally copied without a license from the patent owner to do so.

Crime and punishment

In "developed" countries such as the US or EU, counterfeiting or smuggling pharmaceuticals is considered at the same level as drug dealing. If caught, these people face very large fines and long jail sentences. Why is it so? Because as we have shown above, thanks to government action pharmaceutical companies obtain huge profits from the existence of governments through the imposition of arbitrary regulations and artificial monopolies by the state. But there is a price to be paid and this price is votes. Politicians must be in a position of staying in power in order to be able to maintain artificial pharma market privileges. And this means avoiding political firestorms when it comes to medications. Should the sale of medications be de-regulated, people could buy them on their own thus opening a veritable Pandora's box. Can you imagine the entire medical profession, pharmaceutical profession, insurance business, hospital business and other "health care" professions losing control over treatments!? It would be a disaster! All those people losing profits…err… losing control over the "wellbeing of society"… yeah… that's better. No politician wants to be in this position.

And then we must also consider the "political contributions" that the "health care" industry gives to politicians. Full circle. Pharma profits are protected by politicians who in return receive money from those profits to stay in power in order to protect pharma profits.

This phenomenon is notoriously absent in under-developed countries. In those countries as manufacturing is so cheap and there is almost no R&D pharma there are no massive profits to protect hence politicians mysteriously show disinterest in protecting the "public wellbeing". What a coincidence… not!

Let us be clear. People who "divert" medication from "legitimate" customers to other customers get punished in relation to the amount of money politicians get from the "health care industry". So much for "ethical and moral" reasons.

Those people are nothing but intermediaries operating in a free market which is trying to correct artificial restrictions imposed by states. They are not "criminals" but simply business people with one exception: insurance. If these people buy those medications at an insurance-discounted prices using fake prescriptions then they are simply committing theft. This is so because insurance companies will have to pay the difference in cost between the true retail price and the discounted price. Yet, we must also acknowledge that if the free market would be allowed to operate freely, the cost of medications would be so low that these intermediaries would, most likely, not be necessary. In a perverse and very real sense, these intermediaries exist only because of government action.

Illegitimate medical treatment

One of the most mindboggling concepts is people "seeking medical treatment not through legitimate means". WOW! This is so shocking (we mean the statement) that has left us speechless. Almost.

Let's be clear. As any person owns their own body absolutely, they have the right to seek any medical treatment for that body they see fit. If they wish to consult with their cat or have a session of tea leaf reading or travel to Machu Picchu in order to connect with their spiritual guides to determine the proper medical treatment, they have the inalienable (i.e. non-cancellable) right to do so. Not only that, but they have the inalienable right to follow-up on the received advice without interference from the state. This is so, again, because they own their bodies and they do so absolutely. Within this proper context there is no possibility for "seeking medical treatment not through legitimate means" because people, not the state, determines what "legitimate means" are and they do so by definition because it is their body, not the state's body.

In this context there is no difference between seeking "mainstream" or "alternative" or "farfetched" medical treatment. They are all valid and every person will make a subjective decision as to which is best suited for themselves just like with any other product. It then follows that any person providing the means to do so does so legitimately. Therefore to persecute people for "seeking medical treatment not through legitimate means" or people providing the means to do so is downright insulting, not to mention invalid. Yet, when was the last time a state, any state, concerned itself with such "details"? Never.

Let's be clear. What people do with their bodies is their business. Period. Having said that, we consider that ignoring mainstream medicine is downright stupid and dangerous, but we are fighting down to our last electron to make you aware of this right. To make you evolve politically just a little bit faster.

Licensed establishments

Yet another big issue with "law enforcement" is that all these counterfeit and smuggled medications are sold just about anywhere instead of in "licenced establishments" (i.e. "state licensed establishments") such as pharmacies. This is, yet again, nonsense. Any person that buys a product for resale owns that product and they do so absolutely. If they wish to resale this product in pizzerias or popcorn carts or shoe outlets that is entirely their business. As we stated before, medications are simply a product. Just like screws, doors, pants and Zhajiangmian (chinese noodles with sauce). There is no valid argument for those products not to be sold anywhere. Yet, this is not the "legal" case. Why is it so?

In order to answer this question we need to go back in time. Since humans figured out how to use medications (i.e. herbs) people have sought advice from specialists with the knowledge to use such medications. Specialization is simply a free market process called a "division of labour". These specialists were sought out not because they had a "license" but because they had the knowledge. Can you imagine people in ancient Greece asking Hippocrates for his "licence"? Licenses were invented by state-cities to extract money from university graduates. Licenses are nothing but a tax. Licenses imply schooling, not knowledge. Over time professionals figured out a way to use the state in order to guarantee them a nice and tidy monopoly: the requirement for a "licence". Typically a state grants a professional organization the right to issue or deny licenses and by law the state enforces such monopoly. And what do such licensing organizations do? They raise the bar to ensure the supply of "licenseable" candidates is low. In other words, they make sure that the supply is low hence their wages remain high.

One of the places where this is more obvious is in pharmacies. Why is that only pharmacies are allowed to sell medication that is "controlled"? Only very few over-the-counter medications can be sold outside pharmacies. Why is it so? The traditional answer is that because pharmacists will safeguard your health. The main job of a pharmacist is to protect the patient from the mistakes doctors do. Statistics showing prescribing errors just astronomical. Without pharmacists a great deal of people will be harmed and/or die. However, despite pharmacists efforts a great deal of people still gets hurt and die due to prescription errors. The conclusion is obvious, yes, pharmacists do provide a valuable service but its effectiveness is mediocre at best. How is this possible?

Because prescription liability is almost impossible to enforce. If it would be easy to recuperate damages from doctors due to lousy prescription practices, then doctors themselves would take all the necessary precautions to get it right in the first place. However, as neither doctors nor pharmacists can be sued easily or successfully, this does not happen. Proper prescription prophylaxis (i.e. prevention) is not hard these days. There are plenty of computer systems that do just that. This is not rocket science, just a set of database searches. Heck! you can do this yourself in the internet and most likely with the same effectiveness as a pharmacist can!

This "traditional" rationale for having "licensed" establishments no longer applies. Knowledge is now in the hands of doctors and the people. Pharmacists have very little to offer in terms of added service in terms of providing medications. It is only through state action that "licensing" still exists. Now, this is not to say that pharmacists have nothing to offer; they do. They have extensive knowledge which overlaps with doctors and as such they are as competent as them to diagnose and treat many illnesses. If pharmacists wish to provide this service then they are most welcomed to do so, even for a price. But this provides no rationale for "licensing" their establishments. It is simply an extra service and nothing more.

Note: please see the Glossary if you are unfamiliar with certain words.

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