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.