Monday, April 10, 2006

The story of drug discovery(ies)…

Ever wonder how drugs are always discovered in a timely manner these days, ie people NEEEEEDDDD them most? It almost seem like when you need a drug to treat a disease, a drug or treatment would some up with just a snap of the fingers.

When those big boys know that they are very near to finding a new “cure” or treatment, a new disease will be “highlighted” (I am “polite”, broke and don’t want to be sued. Some brave and cynical souls would just say “CREATED”). They got the $$$, well-oiled PR “machines” (“factory” would be a more appropriate word?) and are veterans when it comes to lobbying, or “bring to attention” , “raise the awareness” (whatever you call it) about “important cause”.

Of course, these are done discreetly. Reports will pop out one by one in the papers (Is it always a coincidence that journalists are suddenly so passionate about a disease???), highlighting the patients’ suffering and how their quality of life would be impacted. There will be stories on the economic impact, the social burden etc etc etc.

Patients and families will talk (and cry) about it on tv…Experts will come forward and talk about it.. etc etc etc. And when we are all sympathetic to these poor people who have to suffer from such a terrible, unforgiving disease, suddenly, very suddenly… surprise, surprise! There is good news!

Oh, thank goodness, some brilliant “scientists” announced a new breakthrough! Now, if you have that horrible disease, there is hope! Thank God! (If you don’t believe in God, thank those great scientists!) They have just announced in a conference (the “scientific paper” will appear in a “top medical journal” soon, shhhh… “after the agreement” about distribution and reproduction costs etc), that they found a miracle drug, a very effective treatment which works for this horrible disease!!! This treatment might be available for all, to all you poor sufferers; very, very soon; IF, only if those guys in the agencies are not sleeping on their job or creating unnecessary red tapes. Bureaucracy! Ahhhhh, this is what preventing people from accessing these miracle drugs and suffers unnecessarily.

Shoot those guys. Write to papers and demand for it! Talk to your MPs! YOU, deserve it.Politicians (I wonder if they understand what “statistical significance” is, and if they even read the abstracts of medical papers) won’t be left out. Very soon, they will issue statements etc etc etc…After all the hoo-hoo and hah-hahs, some chap, usually the fella who happens to pocket one of the biggest pay cheque in these agencies, will announce that they will “expedite” this process. Patients, doctors (Hurray, one more group of patients to see and prescribe for!) and the big guys will wait for the drug to come to market.

After some waiting, and there is still no drug in the market, the patients will ask “Why? What happened?” Fingers will be pointed. That fella who announced that he would “expedite” the thing, will be called again to answer. Somehow, somehow everyone will get the conclusion that it was just another big fat lie.

They were slow! Maybe they were plain stingy. Approving may mean that the government might have to pay for one more drug! (Err, why don’t people question the quality of the evidence?) The big guys and the patients are the victims. No sale, no $$ to put out more trials! How to get conclusive results if you don’t let more people “use” it? (It is a perfect world, isn’t it? When guinea pigs pay to be tested?)

More reports on papers, more meetings between that fella’s dept and the big guys. Patient groups join in. Doctors won’t be left out, too! This goes on and on for a while….In the mean time, something else caught our interest. Maybe it is another “Paris” thing, or may be someone is “cruise-ing” to another woman and baby. (Anyway, we all still wish these poor patients well, and curse those guys who are sleeping on their jobs.)

One morning, or one night, when you tune-in to the news:“Breaking news! Drug XYZ is finally approved by agency ABC for disease X, thanks to the relentless lobbying of patient groups, doctors and the big guys”.Hallelujah! (The Christians say!) Oh-mi-tho-futt! (The Buddhists chanted..) Insya- Allah! (The Muslims cried!). People with disease X now can get XYZ from the docs!If you have disease X, you shed tears of joy.

If disease X happens to be restless legs syndrome, I would be calling my husband (never mind if he has it, or he doesn’t).I will ask him to make an appointment to see our doc, get examined and get put on drug ABC! Since it is “too new” (and too damn ex!) to be covered by medical insurance (damn those guys), I would scrimp and save so that he could have this latest medical treatment. In the mean time, I will bombard the insurance guys and newspapers, demanding for it to be covered.

Hmmm… am I dreaming too much? I am sleepy again? Must be the medicines I have taken…I know from the amount of attention given to fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome in the medical journals that there isn’t going to be a big thing soon.

Maybe, just maybe, they would find a treatment for something else (eg; RLS), and who knows, they might tell you that if you treat this, then your FMS will be better.And when that happens, let’s rejoice and herald the new dawn of “family medicine”. By treating my husband’s RLS, or whatever else that makes him move or make noise when sleeping, I would sleep better. When I sleep better, my fibromyalgia will be better! Hallelujah! Oh-mi-tho-futt!p/s: Somebody please, please e-mail to tell me how to say “thank God” in various languages. When the “new dawn” comes, I would be sooo soooo sooooooo grateful, that I would want to cite “Thank God” in every available language, to thank “The God” of every existing religion on earth.

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