At a briefing Saturday at the White House, President Trump continued to express optimism that the use of hydroxychloroquine – a drug widely used for treating malaria – is showing promise as a treatment for COVID-19 when combined with the antibiotic azithromycin.
If proven effective, Mr. Trump said the discovery would be a “gift from God.”
At this very hour, in laboratories and in medical facilities all across the world, brilliant and earnest men and women are currently working around the clock to find similar cures and treatments for the virulent coronavirus that has crippled the globe.
In reading stories detailing research developments, I was struck to see the reference to azithromycin, a drug first developed in 1981 by a company in Yugoslavia and later licensed to Pfizer, one of America’s leading pharmaceutical companies.
My father, Jim Batura, spent all 44 years of his career working for the Fortune 500 drug maker. He was the ultimate company man, a loyal executive who loved his work and enthusiastically believed his efforts were leading to the “world’s well-being” – a longtime slogan of the pharmaceutical giant.
In fact, I used to hear about azithromycin all the time because my dad was responsible for negotiating and purchasing the raw materials that went into the creation and manufacturing of the medicine.
He would fly off to far flung corners of the globe to inspect factories and cut deals for the components of the medicine.
“It’s a wonder drug!” he used to tell us. “It gets the job done.”
As part of his job, my dad would travel overseas for 2-3 weeks at a time, going to China, Japan and numerous European countries. We all missed him, but the way he talked about his work as a duty, especially that many of Pfizer’s medications were reducing suffering, helped us realize he was doing something for the greater good.
My father died three years ago, but I’ve been thinking about him a lot this past week, especially given the role he once played in a drug that may be an answer to many prayers.
One of the ironies in this current crisis is that only a few weeks ago, many were demonizing pharmaceutical companies, chastising them for price-gouging – for putting profit over people.
Now we’re counting on them – pleading with them – to help find a cure for a very lethal virus that has upended life as we know it.
Big pharma certainly hasn’t always done everything right. Unfortunately, greed too often gets in the way of good intentions, but go ahead and try and name the industry that doesn’t have its share of bad actors.
I hope this latest crisis helps to remind us that we should never demonize whole industries or good people who are doing great things to literally help save civilization.
President Trump’s qualification of the possible treatment as a “gift from God” is a reminder that one of the reasons America has been so blessed is because our system rewards free-enterprise, which is, in and of itself, a God-given blessing. In other words, He’s able to use human innovation to bless others. It’s not that He needs us – but He does use us and the many incredible advancements made inside the United States.
Our country is in a dark hour, but there are countless people sacrificing and working to solve this crisis.
We need to shine a light on their heroic efforts. With one collective voice, I hope you’ll join with me in praying for these soldiers on the front lines of the race to find a cure. They need wisdom and almost supernatural abilities to accomplish their tasks in record time.
I believe they will do it. Let’s now cheer them on.