Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Reasons why Drugs are expensive

Yesterday ProfG suggested that pharma are correct to charge you loads of money for your treatments....this is because its greases the wheels of the economy.

This led to a few discussions in the lab and opinion was polisarised about the value of high drug prices....well say polarised it was ProfG verses the Rest.

Hey Ho he gets the pharma jollies and we don't:-). 

However, was he throwing us a curve ball to get us thinking?

Don't we know that only pharma can afford the costs to develop drugs? The boffins have created such hurdles for pharma to jump over that the boffins can't do it anylonger. 
Was ProfG throwing a spoke in the repurposing wheel?

Repurposing the academic way will have an uphill battle to climb to actually deliver something worthwhile, but if we just sit back and do nothing...this is what you will get and that is nothing!

This because UK Plc will not be able to afford it, if the fat cats get their way. 

They don't care about the poor old duck when making the pharma foie, it's the greenbacks that drive their cogs, not people's health.

In this regard a commenter a posted a link to this article. You may want to read it.

Four Reasons Drugs Are Expensive, Of Which Two Are False (CLICK)

This is an article in Forbes by Jack Scannell. It is very long at 10,000   wordsso grab yourselve a cup of tea and take your time reading this article.

P.S. Please ignore all the advertising that will launch on this website.


  1. Moral of the article : "There Is No Alternative"

    Thanks for the link anyway

    1. Re: ""There Is No Alternative"

      In addition to playing devil's advocate this is the point I was trying to make. We have no alternatives at present, but we can use legislation to alter the dynamics. In addition, as with all industries the governments of the world have a role to play in regulating pharma. The latter is becoming increasingly important as drug prices rise and to make sure there is no cartel. From an academic perspective we need to focus our attention on the unmet need; trying; I don't think we have much chance in the short-to-intermediate term of disrupting the current model.

  2. Fascinating article- though a bit depressing as it seems there is no way out. A bit like reform of the NHS. I particularly liked the idea of rational futility. Perhaps the desperate need for new anti biotics may change things- hopefully before it's too late!

  3. Legislation change has to come. Pharma greed is insatiable, horrible and morally wrong. When the patents expire and it turns out that the drug can be used for another indication - they tweak the molecules slightly and hey presto! "new" drug with a new price tag (it did not cost them as much to tweak as to innovate and develop from scratch!). And while earlier on the profits were lower: see citalopram - escitalopram, now they are not. Example Avastin $150 /repurposed from oncology as treatment for AMD (vaguely affordable), versus Lucentis $2,000 per treatment ( not really affordable as out-of-pocket expense to most old folks). The same story with MabThera (rituximab), but now in "new clothes" as ocrelizumab for MS... any guesses what the price tag is going to be? Roche stopped development of rituximab for MS as soon as they realized that it will work and ocrelizumab will get a higher price.

    1. The same story with Tecfidera/Fumaderm

    2. A simple way around this is if neurologists prescribed Rituximab off label instead of Ocrelizumab when it is approved. If Pharma says they need to charge such ludicrous prices to spur innovation, this case clearly shows this is a line of bull.

      It would give Pharma second thoughts about this behavior.

    3. Re: "A simple way around this is if neurologists prescribed Rituximab off label instead of Ocrelizumab when it is approved. ..."

      Easier said than done. In the EU is is illegal to prescribe an unlicensed drug when there is a licensed drug for that indication. Who is going to pay for the rituximab? It is not cheap, we would need the NHS to agree to it and that will open them up to a legal challenge from Pharma. We have discussed this issue before on this blog in relation to the LUCENTIS vs. AVASTIN story.

    4. Maybe it wouldn't work in the UK, but it may have a chance in the U.S. Rituximab is losing it's patent protection this year and I suspect most doctors who are familiar with Rituximab and it's history would conclude it is equivalent clinically to Ocrelizumab and has a longer safety record.

      I would think the U.S. health insurance companies would agree to use Rituximab off label for MS (many are doing this now), and if a generic Rituximab becomes available this may usher in price competition and more focus on innovation.

  4. But are pharma making a loss in the UK as opposed to the rest of the world???

    1. doubt it the chemicals probably cost a few pence to make


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