Confessions of a Quackbuster

This blog deals with healthcare consumer protection, and is therefore about quackery, healthfraud, chiropractic, and other forms of so-Called "Alternative" Medicine (sCAM).

Friday, April 01, 2005

People's Pharma

The Vermont Vision @

Posted Friday, 2005-4-1

Kent Brockman, staff writer for Vermont Vision

People's Pharma

It was not so long ago they earned fame and fortune by creating delicious all natural ice creams. Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, who sold their booming business in 2000, called a press conference in Nirvana Vermont today for what their press agent called an important announcement.

Arriving in a single Toyota Prius, wearing their traditional tie-dyed t-shirts, frayed blue jeans and Birkenstock sandals, Ben & Jerry emerged, waving to their faithful fans. Ben, his salt-and-pepper gray hair drawn back into a pony tail, stepped to the podium.

"It was not long ago that we made sugar flavored poison. And we made a lot of money."

The crowd became silent.

"We now realize how wrong that was on so many levels. To make amends, the Doctors for Utopian Medicine have convinced us to put our efforts towards making people healthier instead of fatter!"

Tumultuous cheering erupted from the gathered throng. One audience member, carrying a red and white DUM placard, rose and expressed her boundless joy at Ben & Jerry's announcement by performing a twirly dance.

"Jerry and I have taken up the DUM challenge." His voice building, "The era of evil, profit-driven corporate medicine is over! We are here to announce the creation of 'People's Pharma', a new drug company dedicated to natural health remedies without profit!"

The crowd began chanting, "People's Pharma! It's good Karma! Pills for people, not for profit! Pills for people, not for profit!"

Retiring to the question and answer portion of the press conference, Ben & Jerry passed around samplers, shaped like an old-fashioned Doctor's bag, of their first products. One item inside was a bottle containing what appeared to be shavings planed from a tree.

"Willow bark, straight out of an upstate beaver pond. The pure, natural source of aspirin. Just a bit between your cheek and gum."

A cereal-size box contained what appeared to be mixture of dried weeds.

"These organically grown herbs have been specially mixed by a genuine 102 year old Chinese communist barefoot peoples doctor, but we make no claims about its ability to lower blood pressure." He glanced sharply at the press corps, eagerly taking notes, "make sure you get the part about not making claims to LOWER BLOOD PRESSURE."

Lastly was a pill-bottle, that, when opened, contained what appeared to be sand.

"Pure natural minerals, ground from local granite!", he boomed.

Asked if they had come up with a new natural drug for any condition, Ben shook his head and with a bitter edge in his voice complained, "you don't understand how expensive that is. You have to do research, so you have to have a laboratories, hire biochemists, engineers, pharmacists, and all that. Then, if you find something, you have to test it first. Do you have any idea how hard it is to get anything past the animal right crowd? Turns out even bats have a special interest group! Then you have to get FDA review and approval. Blah, blah, blah. It's all damn expensive and a nuisance." He sighed, "nothing like throwing cream and sugar together with some flavoring."

Lightening the mood, Jerry stepped up to the microphone and announced they did have a new product.

"It's not a drug, but we are sure it will help make people healthier. It's an all-natural homeopathic solvent, 99.999% pure water, so I cannot stress enough how powerful it is. We've already shipped dozens of cases to Iraq so those poor people can remove that hideous ink stain from their finger."

Asked how that would make the Iraqi people healthier, Jerry laughed, "oh, you misunderstand. It will not make the Iraqi's healthier, but it will make all of us feel better not to have to look at those waving purple fingers." Then mumbling in his beard, "And to think, Saddam gave them free health care. Ingrates. Now if we could only do something to subdue the Lebanese people. Arabs and freedom; go figure."

Not missing a beat, Ben stepped to the mike and interjected, "for those with the now epidemic post election stress-trauma or PEST, and depression brought on by the current regime of our Fuehrer Bush, we do have a good deal on our St. John's wort. It's so organic, it was ground up with the soil still on the root!"

Each of the aging hippies popped one of the dirty-gray cast tablets into their mouth, washing it down with bottled water. Turning to hear the sound of Linda Ronstadt warbling on stage, someone in the crowd cut loose with an unearthly howl.

"Governor Dean is here!", they exclaimed, "we can talk national health care," and off they wandered into the twirling throng.

"People's Pharma! It's good Karma! Pills for people, not for profit!"