No, hating “big pharma” is not ableist

“Big pharma”, the corporations that control the world’s prescription drugs, consistently take advantage of sick people for profit. Contrary to the headlines I’ve seen lately, hating that is not ableist.

What is ableist is judging people for doing the best they can with the options that are presented to them.

The problem with big pharma is not that drugs exist. The problem is that so much is driven by profit, and not by human need.

Photo by Clever Cupcakes, Licensed under Creative Commons.

There are many times when prescriptions are necessary and important. Hello diabetes and HIV. But corporate lobbying has created a system where the go-to solution for almost everything is to just take a pill, without thinking about the other options.

For many common conditions, including the common cold, anxiety, depression, yeast infections, fever, insomnia, and chronic pain, there plenty of good treatment options that don’t involve drugs.

In an ideal world, pharmaceuticals should be one of the tools in the toolkit, along with massage therapy, physiotherapy, home remedies, herbal medicines, diet change, and rest. For most conditions, there are plenty of options, and in an ideal world, chemical drugs would be only one among many.

The real problem, as with so many things, is capitalism. Corporations need to make a profit just to exist, so they are always looking for ways to expand their profit. To do this, they work hard at convincing people (including doctors) that pharmaceuticals are the best option, instead of one among many.

The effect of this is that more people are on drugs than who need to be, and we’re all paying more than we should be.

But this isn’t the fault of any individual who takes drugs. People who take prescriptions are usually doing the best they can with the options they have, and they deserve respect for that.

Hating big pharma isn’t ableist. What’s ableist is judging people for trying to take care of their health.

And if you say you hate big pharma, what you really hate is capitalism.