Jay Parkinson is a pediatrician and preventive medicine specialist with a master's degree in public health. Fast Company called him "The Doctor of the Future" and one of "The Top 10 Most Creative People in Health Care." Esquire Magazine calls him one of "2009's Best and Brightest Radicals & Rebels Who Are Changing the World."
Question: Why aren't our methods of developing drugs more advanced?
Jay Parkinson: The methods of developing drugs are sort of set up so that you try to control for a similar group of people and you give them a similar pill. But the deal is, we don't know anything about their genetics. So, maybe they have these certain enzymes in their body that like really turn this drug over and turn it into the active metabolite for example that helps you, or maybe you're a bad metabolizer and it builds up in your liver and causes problems.
The deal is, the pharmaceutical companies would rather have their market not limited by 66 percent, they would just like to sort of create a drug for everybody, throw it out to the masses, and if it improves symptoms by 5 percent, well it's a drug, and it's done it's job. But in actuality, whenever you look at it across the population, there's a significant amount of people that are harmed by that drug. The FDA tries to eliminate that as much as possible, but it doesn't always work.
Question: Should we still be taking drugs?
Jay Parkinson: I think that there are certain drugs that we should not be taking, absolutely. In 2009, the FDA approved only 26 drugs. Seventy percent of those were the Me2 drugs, drugs that were going off patent, and needed to be remarketed as the next "Purple Pill" for example. In order to create a $400 a month blockbuster drug in exchange for a $4.00 a month generic. I think that is a very, very, very shady practice and it's harming our health in exchange for creating a whole industry of profitability of selling snake oil and marketing gimmicks.
Recorded on March 9, 2010