Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Drug Pricing: Pharma Cartels?

Is there real price competition amongst MS multinational pharma? or are Cartels (Organization for Health Extorting Companies (OH-EC) :-) fixing prices? 

Can MS drugs keep getting more and more expensive? 
What do you think?
                               Flag of OHEC or is that Oh Heck!

Do Pharma need to engage more to try and explain their high pricing of drugs?


  1. I could virtually say what they would say if asked- that research costs billions, that clinical trials cost billions, that lots of products fail at various stages along the way that they have put money into, that drugs only have a certain patent time, that the successful drugs have to subsidise R+D into new ones. The only way to get them cheaper is for a big purchaser like the NHS to say no, not at that price, but where does that leave MSers? I presume in the US each group of hospitals negotiates the price-maybe they need toform a centralised purchasing group of their own.

  2. They also need to pay for their marketing budgets which typically comes in at least twice that of R&D, which of course explains that a company with an inferior drug can "outmarket" another company which has a drug with more efficacy but a lower marketing budget.
    In the US, where health care is paid for by insurance there is no mechanism for purchasers to drive down the price as with the NHS. Indeed any attemot to do so would probably be viewed as anti-business and socialism. This will of course have to change, as the editorial by Hauser et al mentioned in the previous article makes clear.

  3. One mechanism to drive down costs is the co-payment; i.e. the amount the person with the disease has to be out of pocket when they receive the drug. In the case of Gilenya, Novartis covers the majority of the co-payment as a reimbursement to the patient. There this keeps the copayment to a minimum and removes any breaks on the cost of the drug. The insurance company has to then pick-up the tab; as the insurance companies will never go bankrupt they simply pass on the costs to the general public. At the end of the day the general public have to pay for the price of treating MS. The sooner the voter realise this the sooner they will demand something is done about it. The politicians will be getting involved very soon, I have no doubt about it!

  4. I take a rather different view to many on here. If the price of getting closer to a cure for MS or an even more effective treatment regmine is high drug costs then so be it. If Pharma can't make a hefty profit on MS drugs then they will stop developing them and that would be the worst possible outcome for MSers. Alemtuzumab, BG-12 and, beyond that exciting possibilities such as anti-lingo etc, wouldn't exist if the market for MS drugs was many billions of dollars. Yes, they spend money on marketing too but they are businesses. The greater profit in developing the most effective MS drug, the more money will be spent trying to develop it...

  5. This reminds me of the red queen! Each company feels it has to keep up with the next. The problem is they seem to behaving like Lemmings! Let's hope the goose that lays the golden eggs doesn't die from an obstructive labour.


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