Author: Julian Todd
What NEED does this meet?
The international public, as well as NHS organizations, are remorselessly targetted for the sale of inappropriate pharmaceuticals at inflated prices. The corporations work within a system of legalized monopoly and hide important information. We need a presentation of the facts drawn from different sources that can be used as the first line of defence. It would also point out what information we do not know, suggesting the questions that investigators should be looking into.
What is the APPROACH?
Very helpfully, new pharmaceuticals are given new invented unique names, so it is very easy for software to tag them, and track their appearance in the news media, and watch as the companies post their propaganda onto places like wikipedia and build their marketing campaigns. It is well documented and utterly predictable that the money is available to promote a drug that is in patent against one that is out of patent, even when it is undeniably more dangerous and less effective.
We need an automatically updated chart like publicwhip that scrapes the patent and trademark databases, and lists who owns them, on what date the patent expires (**very important), links to all news publications citing the drug in chronological order, cost of drug per patient, cost of manufacture (**usually a blank, drug companies refuse to divulge this, or blatantly lie about it — see the case of AIDS drugs that Cipro began to manufacture), names of the doctors who have conducted the drugs trials, list of similar drugs, evidence of who invented the drug (**often the drug company just buys it in from a taxpayer supported university, and then pretends that they spent 500m pounds on it).
What are the BENEFITS to people?
It will expose the big picture of this this market commodity in one page. Those who are using particular named drugs, have been prescribed particular named drugs, have been virally marketed at to ask their doctor for a particular named drugs, will have a source that’s slightly more structured than just typing the name of it into google, and getting a pile of links, none of which includes price or patent expiration data. This would be easy to make it possible to inform oneself on the pattern a sudden set of negative publicity against a drug (after years of good publicity) that is shortly to go out of patent in order to convert people to the next patented drug — which will be more expensive but might not be better.
What is the COMPETITION?
Public Citizen runs the worstpills.org site. This proposal is a simpler across various sources of information.
What BUDGETS & LOGISTICS are required?
The software may have wide applications, across products outside medicine. We need to scrape trademark and patent data into a single table, and scan across all of bbcnews sites or online paper news sites for a chronological list for each known unique name. This on its own is better than the google shambolics.
The other data, such as prices and manufacturing costs, could be lifted from the wikipedia, if people include the data there in slightly structured and scrapable form. ie, rather than make our own wiki, use the one that’s there already to gather and host the data.
One day I hope people in these companies may start to leak info about the manufacturing and research costs on actual particular instances, so we can have an informed public debate about these matters, not just layers and layers of excuses and faked expenses from the most profitable companies in the world.