Crusoe was called to see the woman. It all began she said when on the way home after a successful board meeting, taking shelter from a sudden downpour, he stepped into an empty building. There he saw something. Perhaps it was the nutmeg with the meal or the mushrooms that did it. A bunch of children, he said, sitting looking at a stockmarket ticker tape. Many of them appeared limbless, had cleft palates or clubfeet or were otherwise deformed. Others had the scar of some operation down their breastbone or elsewhere, some with the stitches still in.
All hail the Thane of Delaware one sang, as the ticker tape showed a share-price rise. All hail the Thane of Pennsylvania another said as the share-price rose further. All hail Mr. President the last one said as the share-price rose yet higher.
He came home astonished. He couldn’t see what she could. But she said, tearfully turning to Crusoe, things had not worked out. The treatments coming through had been nothing like the breakthrough treatments of a few decades before. Far from getting people well, more were dying earlier. Younger and younger children were being put on some of the foulest drugs on earth. She had thought no-one in their right mind would prescribe such drugs to children or pregnant women but there seemed to be nothing that could stop it happening. The last years of a person’s life, the years of sere and yellow leaf, became the most profitable years for the company. Few of the elderly went to their graves on less than 30-40 pills per day. The country was in thrall.
There was wailing across the land but no-one seemed to have an idea how to bring about change. Some broke into and occupied buildings, but what good could this do when it was impossible for doctors to do anything other than what the evidence said. A series of traitors leaked documents but these resulted in no more than minor embarrassments.
When the Thane of Indiana’s wife became depressed in the midst of all this, she was put on treatment and committed suicide.
She sometimes wondered if he was on something he had become so unfeeling. Never more so than when one of his closest friends on the way up suggested they needed to change course, and soon after was terminated. The man she married would never have done this. Not to someone who had been through so much with him, without whose help he would never have made it.
There was no option he said. As long as the clinical trial data pointed the one way, there was no other rational option for the country but to follow it. Unless someone was to show the entire body of clinical trials was worthless marketing copy, there was no way to undo the system – and what chaos would ensue then. He had even mockingly on one occasion said no-one born of man could bring the system down.
The security around him recently had become total. She was sure they had profiled her and knew she posed no threat. Or else thought her death would make no difference. They knew she was infertile.
“But I had a test-tube baby before I met him and gave him up for adoption”. “Has he just contacted you?” Crusoe asked.
[For The Oedipus Effect – see The Antidepressant Era. Re parable, a startling number of US Senators, Governors, Secretaries of State, and even Presidents have had senior roles within the pharmaceutical industry, which is based in Delaware, Indiana, Pennsylvania and New Jersey].