Saturday, January 08, 2005

Why the NYT lets down moderates and progressives, reason #5,247


Most of the pharmacies in China that dispense Western-style medicines have an antiquated, if reassuring, air about them. There are no posters on the walls for brand-name drugs. Candy is not for sale. Photo processing is not available. Druggists work in long white lab coats and surgical hats that could have been salvaged from a World War II hospital ship. Some pharmacies require prescriptions for the most potent drugs, others only an earnest chat with a druggist. Drug orders create paperwork that passes through three or four bureaucratic layers before reaching the solemn cashier, who issues a handwritten receipt.

Such an old-fashioned scene might argue for just how far China trails the United States and other advanced economies, where both science and marketing are seemingly years ahead.

First of all, all the pharmacies I've been in during my visits to China didn't have "three or four bureaucratic layers." In fact, typically, the sales person was the pharmacist and was the cashier. (We're talking Western style pharamcies here, not traditional Chinese herbalists, which are different, but actually, there too, there aren't "three or four" bureaucratic layers.)

Secondly, Chinese pharmacies look and operate just like German ones in Munich or formerly West Berlin.

The NYT- keeping Americans ignorant of international conditions for geez, how long now?

However, if you read the above linked article keep the following in mind:

1. Do we really need all those drugs? (Many drugs, such as Clarinex don't seem to have a good reason for being around given the alternatives already exist)

2. Aren't drugs just like "content" - overpriced? I mean, really, is a DVD really "worth" 20 bucks in the US new, 40 bucks "new" in Japan and 1 buck new in China? Really? Why should Americans pay 20 times the real cost of the DVD? Or the Viagra? To keep people employed? Maybe there's Quality Control issues, maybe there is strategic reason to keep drugs manufactured in the US, (actually I think that's quite true), but, OTOH, advertising is quite a large part of drugs' budget in the US.

Normally, when it comes to manufacturing, I'm on the side of American workers, simply because I don't want to see living standards further decline here, and I think working against what seems to be a natural "American" xenophobia is a good thing.

But those first 2 paragraphs of the Times' piece - well, the stereotypes were running full bore there.

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