Friday, March 31, 2017

Converse connection: much pharma innovation achieved much sooner but for the patent string outs

While looking at this headline in Medical News Today, this morning …

How to use long-acting insulin: Types, frequency, peak times, and duration by Alyse WexlerReviewed by Alana Biggers, MD, MPH

… I thought the normal thought of how a lot of “innovation” (not necessarily this story’s) is just to stretch out patents — to retain top prices.

Then a converse connection: a lot of these innovations could be achieved at a much earlier date if it were not for the patent string out.

We know that Gilead was on its way to a much less harmful version of its HIV drug (“old” version harms a percentage more of patients’ bones and kidneys every year) — but stopped for five years to let the patent run five years later.

There are really hundreds of thousands of university researchers all over the country begging for grants. I believe 300,000 are doing government paid pharmacy research right now. Makes no difference to them whether you and I or big pharma pays.

What this adds up to is that for-profit patent research may not speed up new drugs — but that it can and does slow them down. Not to mention that when big pharma actually comes up with a new drug, they price it so high nobody can utilize it. (See Angry Bear Open Thread, 3/28/17.)

From John LeCarre’s (author’s note) at the end of The Constant Gardner:
“There is no Dypraxa, never was, never will be. I know of no wonder cure for TB that has recently been launched on the African market or any other— or is about to be— so with luck I shall not be spending the rest of my life in the law courts or worse, though nowadays you can never be sure. But I can tell you this. As my journey through the pharmaceutical jungle progressed, I came to realize that, by comparison with the reality, my story was as tame as a holiday postcard”

Gilead wants $300 billion to cure every Hep C case in the US
($100,000 X 3 million sufferers) — not some poor African country — 600 X what it costs to manufacture. That’s how much the whole country spends on all drug research ($25 billion tax paid; $50 billion private) every years. Can’t wait to find out what you’ll be bled to cure your Alzheimer’s. 

Wonder what the Manhattan Project cost in today’s dollars? — wait; Goggle says $27 billion (2017 dollars).

Almost forgot: don't forget all the research efforts (plural) wasted in the search for copy-cat molecules -- solely to cut in on the profits.

1 comment:

Denis Drew said...

From Healthcare Beyond Reform -- Doing It Right for Half the Cost -- by Joseph Flower (2012) -- on page 45

" ... getting stung by a scorpion is no picnic. Some varieties can be deadly to children. Luckily, there is an anti-venom available for it; Anascorp, manufactured for years by Instituto Biolclon in Mexico approved for use in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration in August 2011. Get stung while waiting in the pedestrian line in Nogales, Mexico, to cross the border into the United States, and Anascorp will cost you $100 per vial, and you may need as many as six. But imagine the scorpion hitched a ride in your shoe, and stung you after you crossed the border into Nogales, Arizona: the very same Anascorp, manufactured by the same company, will cost you from $7,900 to $12,467 per vial depending on which Arizona hospital you end up in.