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Sick: America's Most Profitable Drugs Don't Cure Anything

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Drug money
If you read this week's feature story on the addiction-curing hallucinogenic drug ibogaine and non-hallucinogenic alternatives like 18-MC, you might have been left wondering, "If this stuff works as well as everybody says it does, why hasn't a pharmaceutical company started selling it and made a fortune?"

It's a good question and one that was posed to several people in the ibogaine world. Martin Kuehne, a chemist from the University of Vermont and the inventor of 18-MC, had this to say:
"Pharmaceutical companies don't like cures. Really, they don't -- that's the sad thing. They like treatment. Something for cholesterol or high blood pressure that you take for years and years, every day. That's where the profit is."
Our colleagues at the Village Voice in New York did a little research and concluded that Kuehne is correct -- the five most profitable drugs in America don't actually cure anything.

Here are the findings, courtesy of Voice writer Jason Parham:
1) Lipitor (2009 gross revenue: $7.5 billion): Designed to lower cholesterol, Lipitor uses statins to decrease LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels and increase HDL cholesterol levels. Studies indicate that high cholesterol increases one's chance for heart disease, the leading health problem in the U.S.

2) Nexium (2009 gross revenue: $6.3 billion): This well-marketed drug decreases the amount of acid produced in the stomach, but it's not an instant cure for heartburn.

3) Plavix (2009 gross revenue: $5.6 billion): Nobody likes a nasty blood clot, and this drug prevents that from happening, particularly after a stroke or a heart attack. The downside: Plavix increases your chances of small-injury bleeds and, if drinking alcohol, heightens your risk of stomach and intestinal bleeds.

4) Advair Diskus (2009 gross revenue: $4.7 billion): For asthma sufferers, a twice-daily inhaler to reduce the swelling in your respiratory system. Helps keep attacks from being more severe.

5) Seroquel (2009 Gross: $4.2 billion): Rounding out our top 5 is Seroquel, an anti-psychotic drug that treats schizophrenia, severe depression, and bipolar disorder by altering chemical activity in the brain.
Read his whole post on the Voice's Runnin' Scared blog: The 5 Most Profitable Drugs: They Never Cure You.

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