It seems like a crazy idea but consider for a moment . . . what if? Can you imagine how the business model for treating disease might change? The motivation might just tip from profit to healing or–even better–prevention of disease. 

I recently read about the new Alzheimer drug (Aduhelm, the brand name for the medication aducanumab). As a non-scientist, it struck me that this drug is all about selling false hope and creating a market for profit. I do not see a focus on the patient. 

I say this because a variety of news sources have indicated that the drug developed by Biogen will cost individuals $56,000 a year. 

Who is this drug for–the super-rich? There’s a cruel twist to a drug that sells the possibility of an extended life only for people who can write big checks and shelter under the umbrella of hope. It’s certainly not for any of the people whose health we are trying to protect through the work for Less Cancer.  

The current marketing of pharmaceuticals to patients suffering from many diseases is only part of the equation. Much can be done to support a patient instead of the next miracle drug. This is especially true for those with patients who are underserved and under-represented. Never before has there been more cancer in the world—or, as a matter of fact, Alzheimer’s. 

Throwing the kitchen sink at some of the most wicked diseases known to man is not the way to end human suffering. The real “cure” is prevention. Prevention for all. To do so we must invest in a new model: the human race, not the pharmaceutical companies’  for-profit race. 

As it has been with cancer, Alzheimer’s experts are constantly navigating new–and much needed–research. They’ve learned that diet and exercise can lower risks for Alzheimer’s disease, just like cancer. But preventing these diseases is about so much more than simple choices. The prevalence, treatment and survival of several diseases is influenced by a range of demographics including race, gender, sexuality and disabilities. 

This is why I founded Less Cancer–to provide a platform for the underserved so they too can have healthy lives. Less Cancer gives voice to those who are not part of the pharmaceutical business plan—those who do not have access to adequate public health care and cannot afford costly medications. 

The current model seems to be treatment for some people, but not all. This new Alzheimer’s drug is a perfect example of that inequity. However, it is not exclusively the problem, but rather a symptom. The issue is how to end human suffering for everyone, not just for those who can afford to pay for it. 

I am not discounting treatment of any kind. I’m grateful for so many of the cures and treatments modern science has developed. I’m just suggesting it can be different. “Access for all” must not be just a sound bite, but rather a call to action that brings everyone together to more effectively address health calamities. Simply put, the focus of the medical and pharmaceutical communities should be on people, not profit. The idea of pharmaceutical companies as non-profits may be beyond reach, but we can—and must—reach for loftier goals in the fight to defeat diseases like Alzheimer’s and cancer.