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Richard Kearns, AIDSoverSIXTY: Reflections on the economics of HIV/AIDS and medical cannabis

Reflections on the economics of HIV/AIDS and medical cannabis
by Richard Kearns, October 24, 2011

Comments at Occupy Los Angeles Monday afternoon during the medical cannabis rally with Richard Eastman and Stephanie Landa on the City Hall south lawn

My name is Richard Kearns. I am a sixty year old gay man living in Los Angeles with AIDS for the last thirty years — a long-term survivor and AIDS activist. I am a medical cannabis user and advocate. I am alive today because of medical cannabis. It helps me survive the medicine that keeps me alive.

Greed? Do you want to know about corporate greed? As a Person Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA), I can tell you a tale or two about corporate greed.

To stay alive I take a drug cocktail, four pills. It costs big pharma roughly $80 a year to produce each pill, for which it then turns around and charges $12,000 annually. Not twelve hundred dollars — twelve thousand dollars. That’s a 150-fold profit margin which is rushed to be paid — without question, without scrutiny — by Social Security, by the insurance corps, by the government. $36,000.00 – 48,000.00 total, depending on the size of your cocktail.

What is the point of medicine? To save lives or create profit? At some point those goals collide, and you must choose or die. That’s the plain truth.

There is an economic DISincentive to find a cure for AIDS. The development of a vaccine should be our top economic research priority. But ask yourself: What’s more profitable? A vaccine you purchase and use once, or a handful of pills from everybody’s company you have to purchase and take daily for the next forty years?

Medical cannabis is not a cure for AIDS. But it helps me to survive what passes for a cure today. And it is conducive to the kind of community-building that also keeps us all alive.


—Richard Kearns

after the fold: petition to Governor Brown and flyers


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