Will second patent medicine era end in 2009?

Will second patent medicine era end in 2009?

Summary: The cure for today's patent medicine craze is universal health care. Let everyone back into the market and the pseudo market dries up.


Merchants Gargling Oil ad from the 1800sWe love to laugh about the patent medicine era, that time in the 1800s when salesmen went from town to town hawking fake remedies for what ailed people. (Picture from the Hagley Museum.)

That era is said to have ended early in the last century, following passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act in 1906.

The most popular cures remained around for decades, and some, most notably Coca-Cola, became consumer staples.

History needs to be revised and extended. A second such era has been rising under our noses. What started in health food co-ops has gone Madison Avenue in this decade.

Quack cures are readily available for impotence, for sleeplessness, and for general lethargy. As was the case in the 19th century, media companies have become dependent on this advertising.

With the collapse of the car companies, the failures in real estate, and the consolidation of banking, even our big-time cable outlets now prominently feature ads for patent medicines.

Alteril from Amazon.comWhile the first patent medicine craze was fought back, in part, through muckraking journalists, the fight in this second war is being driven by science itself, which has tried out the key ingredients -- vitamins -- and found them wanting.

Regulation was the ultimate solution to the first patent medicine craze, but this second craze has risen in regulation's shadow.

The craze is said to be driven by suspicion of regulators. In fact it's driven by people priced out of the regular medicine market.

The cure for today's patent medicine craze is universal health care. Let everyone back into the market and the pseudo market dries up.

 That's the goal of health care reform. Let the strength of the patent medicine market be the yardstick by which we measure it.

Topics: Software, CXO, Enterprise Software, Health, IT Employment

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  • Good point

    I couldn't agree with you more, except for the fake diet pills market, which is huge, because no actual medicine exists right now that really works except strong stimulants. My prediction: When a real effective diet pill is finally created and patented by a drug company it will become the world's first trillion dollar drug.
    • Thanks for that..

      I'd forgotten about the diet pill scams. You're right.
      There is no drug that works.

      But I don't think there will be a drug that works. I
      use the two-handed push-off -- getting away from the
      table. I also find aerobic workouts followed by
      crunches help, by thickening the abdominals you get
      pain when your stomach expands from overeating. I do,
  • RE: Will second patent medicine era end in 2009?

    Not so simple.

    This "second patent medicine" craze has long profited from the same irresponsible government dereliction of duty that gave us the banking crisis. That is, under Reagan, Bush and Shrub, the government completely failed in its duty to regulate (the Clinton era was too short to make a difference here). The government caved in to lobbyists who saw how much money they could make selling quack cures.

    Science cannot be the answer, since neither the buying public nor the people in government who SHOULD be doing the regulating have enough faith in it.

    The answer must instead lie in understanding WHY people are ignoring the science, WHY they prefer to fall for the same fallacious reasoning over and over again. This is its own 'science', the study of urban myths, and the sociology of popular culture.

    In particular, the $64000 dollar question is: why do people prefer psychological certainty over epistemological certainty in their medical purchasing decisions?

    Answer THAT question and you will realized why even universal health care will not stop the 2nd patent medicine craze.
    • It's not a big mystery... Geeze...

      First off, the Clinton era was was 8 years in the making. That's two FULL 4 year terms. Too short? Hardly.

      [b]In particular, the $64000 dollar question is: why do people prefer psychological certainty over epistemological certainty in their medical purchasing decisions? [/b]

      This one's easy. It has to do with a subject called MARKETING.

      Or at an even more basic level - currently the TV ads for these diet aids are a better at dispensing the Bovine Feces. They play on a number of factors - namely the concept that people are getting overweight and that's a bad thing (legit science), and how hard it is to lose weight - especially if you're getting older, and how this one magic pill will get rid of the fat for you without exercise or any stress - to the tune of $193 per bottle...

      They also play the shame card - how you should be ashamed if you've got too much flab around your midsection.

      The real underlying problem here is that advertisers can exaggerate claims and say pretty much anything - including the most blatant and outrageous lies and get away with it. It's not limited to patent meds either. Other industries are just as guilty of spreading fertilizer. <coughApplecough> has had some fairly blatant lies featured in their advertising - but that's another rant all together.

      What we really need are truth in advertising laws to be put into effect and have them enforced with impunity. That would take a LOT of these herbal viagra, fat loss pills, and other hocus pocus meds right off the market and hopefully put the snake oil salesmen into prison.
      • You are getting warmer...

        "Truth in Advertising" laws, laws with real [b]teeth[/b] to them, would be a major step in the right direction. But we [b]had[/b] that in the not too distant past. But their strength was seriously eroded.

        So we need something more: we need to understand [b]why[/b] they were so easily eroded, take that into account, and make sure it does not happen again so easily.

        My understanding is that the already existing laws have only one weakness, that they put the enforcement burden on a federal agency (the FTC) whose funding was easily cut off.

        See http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/guides/ad3subst.htm for a good example of the already existing law.
  • Does any medicine work?

    Does any doctor cure?
    • Yes

      Medicines do work. Doctors do cure. We do live longer.
      But we have had a generation now of business and
      government getting closer together, at all levels,
      because we believe all government is bad.

      When you elect people who have contempt for government
      you get contemptuous government. I think that is
      proven now.
      • There's a Deeper Principle at Work here...

        You say "When you elect people who have contempt for government you get contemptuous government." You mention a generation of people who ignored this principle. But I lived through that generation, as did you, and we both know that principle is true.

        So the deeper question is: how did the voting public as a whole forget what you and I knew so well? And how did profiteers successfully exploit this forgetfulness?

        I claim that the answer lies in coming to understand how the "marketplace of ideas" on which our popular theory of democracy relies, is in as bad a condition as the financial markets. That would explain how such an obviously [b]bad[/b] idea was able to take over so completely for so long.
  • Next up...

    Universal Food Providence. Perhaps the government can contract with Old Country Buffet or something, so everyone can eat...the price of food has really gone up! Hmmm. Don't forget Universal Clothing...can't have people not walking around in style.

    News Flash folks: it is NOT the government's job to provide your health care...or your food...or your housing. Life means working for what you need, not expecting someone else to give it to you. Hard fact? Yeah, life is hard. Get used to it. Personal responsibility, folks. There IS NO FREE LUNCH.
    • News flash Techboy

      Government has been helping provide housing, clothing
      and food for generations, to provide for the general

      Do we really want to be Sao Paolo?
    • You are Forgetting Something

      And that 'something' is very important. It [b]is[/b] the governments responsibility to ensure that its citizens are protected from deception, fraud and outright theft. But the government has completely failed to do this in the health industry.

      Furthermore, since Adam Smith's "The Wealth of Nations", it has been widely understood that it [b]is[/b] the government's responsibility to support free markets. But the government has completely failed to do this in heathcare, too. It has played favorite for big business instead.

      It is because of this [b]long[/b] standing failure that the healthcare situation is so bad today. Under such circumstances, it is no longer unreasonable to ask that the government step in to undo the damage or at least control the damage, that has accumulated over so many years.

      Besides: you show no familiarity with how Britain, that most independent-minded of nations, decided to embrace national healthcare. They decided that yes, it really IS in the public interest that all citizens have government-subsidised access to healthcare, much as they all have equal access to government subsidised highways.

      The analogy is not so easy to dismiss.
  • Just Like MS

    Drugs arebeing marketed as MS do with their market. Change some lines in the patent an then go after small developers so they can't get in.