In a press release this morning pharmaceutical giant Pfizer revealed that their “cure for cancer” was “basically finished”, but would be kept on the shelf “until a no make-up selfie receives one million Facebook likes”. When asked to clarify, their spokesperson said, “Yes, all cancer,” and “No, Instagram likes don’t count.” As of writing, three photographs had achieved the requisite number of likes but were disqualified for a little bit of foundation, some mascara, or, in one case, performance-enhancing botox.
While many have decried the action as inhumane, critics would be wise to recall the pharmaceutical industry’s history of tributes. In the late 1980s, Roche refused to release their latest antiretroviral until they were gifted one hundred thousand no hairspray Polaroids. Going back further, GlaxoSmithKline (then just Smith) suppressed knowledge of a cure for polio until they received a thousand bare ankle daguerreotypes—a scandal in its day. Even Da Vinci was known to traipse about Florence, camera obscura in hand, exchanging pinhole glances of a solar eclipse for bloodletting. What’s next for the pharmaceutical industry? “We’re thinking of trading scalps for STI vaccines,” the spokesperson said.
On the bright side, the controversy has established once and for all that the pharmaceutical industry is a mechanism whose cogs are oiled by human blood. “The cure will not be launched in Africa till 2030,” the spokesperson continued.
Responses to the scandal were varied. One survivor said “the whole selfie trend is a living mockery of the sufferers, I’ll be writing to Honi if they publish this garbage.” A North Shore housewife, after a long day, replied, “I couldn’t care less what they do so long as they don’t cut my Xanax”.