Along with the hippocratic oath, the physicians’ creed that says, “first, do no harm,” the drug companies have added a corollary, “bend the rules, protest in defense, fight the regulators, and increase the profits.” The only harm that seems important is perceived as that which can affect the bottom line. Harm to patients is measured in trial studies as a statistical probability, but profit is first and absolute.
From wrinkles to headaches, botox is the new wonder drug, a modern snake oil that cures all, and puts its users on the forefront of the medical cutting edge. It’s the “soma” of appearance and infirmity, an injection that contains the fountain of youth and turns back the clock. We are on the edge of a Brave New World, offering our fortunes and lives to drug companies like sacrifical sheep.
It reminds me of a Tibetan folktale:
A sheep and her lamb left the valley every summer, going to the plateau, where grass was plentiful. One spring, they came face to face with a wolf. “Oh! Uncle Wolf,” cried the sheep, “we are doing no harm; We are going to graze on the rich grass of the plateau.”
“Well,” said the wolf, “the fact is, I am hungry and will eat you both on the spot.”
“Please, please, Uncle Wolf, don’t do that,” replied the sheep. “Please don’t eat us now; if you will wait till the autumn, when we shall both be very much fatter.”
“Very well, Aunty Sheep,” said the wolf, “it’s a bargain. I will spare your lives now, but meet me at this very spot on your return journey this autumn.”
But that autumn a hare dressed in fine clothes, with a sheet of paper in hand, told the wolf the was charged with collecting wolf skins. Frightened, the wolf fled and the sheep and lamb continued their journey safely.
The moral today: we offer ourselves, and the wolf has no fear.