Saturday, 30 March 2013

Pharma behaving badly in San Diego

Miller JE. Bioethical accreditation or rating needed to restore trust in pharma Nature Medicine 19, 261 (2013) doi:10.1038/nm0313-261.

"After years of decline in the public eye, drug companies should implment a bioethics accreditation or rating program to help appropriately restore the industry's good name and improve its effectiveness in advancing global health and new treatments.

The pharmaceutical industry was once among the most admired industries on the planet. Today, it is heavily criticized and distrusted, with only 12% of people in the US believing that drug companies are generally honest and ethical, according to a Harris poll published late last year. Countless experts have raised this problem before, and drug companies have attempted numerous remedial strategies to address bioethical concerns and repair trust deficits. Nonetheless, the mistrust persists, arguably weakening the effectiveness of these important institutions. Is there something new that companies can do to demonstrate the quality of their processes and genuinely earn back our trust? I believe there is.............."



"This article is very timely and couldn't have popped into my consciousness at a more opportune time. At the AAN, in San Diego, I boycotted the exhibition hall; I simply find the waste of money on very expensive glitzy marketing stands distressing. I have posted on the issue of the exhibitionism by the marketing arm of Pharma before, using the Red Queen Effect as the analogy."


"Unfortunately, the marketeers took things to a new level in San Diego; you couldn't walk around San Diego without being reminded that MS Pharma was in town. They were determined to get their subliminal messages across. The pedicabs or pedal taxis were branded with a particular MS drug throughout the meeting. My colleagues and I were horrified that a Pharmaceutical company would treat a MS Drug like a consumer product and advertise it on taxis. Do they think we, neurologists, are morons and respond to billboard advertising as if MS DMTs were the equivalent to Coca Cola? It is time the Pharma industry took their marketing seriously and displayed some social responsibility. MS is a serious disease and MS DMTs are simply overpriced, particularly in the USA. Neurologists are not muppets and we should not be treated as such. Pharma should use their marketing budgets wisely; their marketing needs to be innovative and more importantly add value to the field. The MS market is not a consumer market and should not be treated as such. The marketing and advertising executives who came up with the idea of advertising a very expensive MS drug on taxis should find jobs in another sector!"


Essential additional reading on this blog: Red Queen Effect

9 comments:

  1. Good on you Prof. G for taking a stand. Alas, I suspect the message will fall on deaf Pharma ears.

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  2. Any clues to who the offender was? Which drug and which company?

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  3. Overpriced..............the annual cost of Tecfidera was announced in U.S. at ~54K with 50-60 efficacy. It was priced similarly with the other oral meds. Rituximab was pulled off the market as a treatment for CML in order to "re-release" as MS treatment at more competitive price. Now rituximab is shelved and ocrelizumab is in the wings. I realize pharma is trying to maximize profit like any other company but as you mentioned above this is extremely frustrating. Hopefully academia will lead to better more affordable therapies. How much can it cost to synthesize dimethyl fumarate.

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    1. What is your source re the $54K price tag? It is not rituximab that has been pulled but alemtuzumab.

      A 100g of dimethyl fumarate costs £34.20 from Sigma. A dose of 720mg twice a day from Sigma will therefore cost you £179.76 per year (0.720g x 2 tablets x 365 days / 100g * £34.20 = £179.76 per year). It sure costs a lot to package and market DMF.

      http://www.sigmaaldrich.com/catalog/product/aldrich/242926?lang=en&region=GB

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    2. 1. Price of tecfidera
      http://www.fiercepharma.com/story/biogen-prices-tecfidera-below-oral-ms-rival-gilenya/2013-03-29
      2. The daily dose approvd for MS is 240mg twice a day, not 720mg twice a day, so pls repeat your calcualtion...

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  4. /www.forbes.com/sites/matthewherper/2013/03/29/biogen-reveals-pricing-for-new-ms-drug-tecfidera/
    Alemtuzumab has been pulled for re-labelling from treatment for hairy cell leukemia to MS therapy, you are correct, thanks. Rituximab was shelved because of patent expiration even though it showed good efficacy.

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  5. The ads got your attention, maybe the advertisers know exactly what they're doing.

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    Replies
    1. I am sure you are right; I should know better my wife works in advertising.

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