Generics Drive Down Drug Prices In India, TPP Trying To Stop That

from the really-sick dept

Back in March, we wrote about an important development in India, where a compulsory license for Bayer's Nexavar anti-cancer drug was granted. Bayer, of course, is fighting back:

in its 37-page appeal to the Intellectual Property Appellate Board, Bayer has "demanded the withdrawal of the country’s first compulsory license given to Natco Pharma, arguing that a three-fourths reduction in the price of the anti-cancer drug by another Indian firm has made the permit redundant and its patent itself is vulnerable to being revoked," the Economic Times, India’s leading business newspaper, reported on 19 May. Bayer says CIPLA’s new price "will render Natco’s price unreasonable and defeat the purpose of compulsory licensing," according to the newspaper.
As that shows, there's been an interesting twist in this story. Cipla, another Indian manufacturer of generics, has announced that it too is coming out with a version of Nexavar, pricing it at $125 for 120 tablets. That's even cheaper than Natco's price of $163, to say nothing of Bayer's $5,128 for the same course. A key difference is that India's Patent Controller has granted a compulsory licence to Natco, but not to Cipla. In fact, Bayer has said that it is taking Cipla to court over its production of a cheap version of Nexavar.

Bayer is employing some very strange logic here. On the one hand, it is saying that Cipla's cheaper version of Nexavar means that Natco's licence is no longer needed, and should be revoked. On the other, Bayer is suing Cipla because it has produced Nexavar without the compulsory license that Natco has. Clearly, Bayer hopes to get the best of both worlds -- the revocation of Natco's compulsory licence, and a court ruling against Cipla, which would leave Bayer once more as the only supplier of Nexavar.

Bayer seems to be trying to make that outcome more palatable by emphasizing that it has already reduced the price of Nexavar for some people:

Bayer stresses that to facilitate access for patients to innovative treatments, it has had a Patient Access Programme in place since the launch of Nexavar in India in 2008. Bayer says that this programme, last expanded in April 2012, reduces the price for the monthly treatment with Nexavar for qualified persons to about a tenth of the regular pharmacy price (Rs 280,000 or $5,128) for the complete duration of treatment.
But it's not clear how many patients have actually benefited from this program. And in any case, the reduced price of $512 per 120 tablets is still three times higher than Natco's pricing, which would put it out of the reach of many poorer patients. Compulsory licensing, by contrast, has driven down the price to $163, and maybe even to $125 if Cipla is allowed to offer it too. In other words, the availability of indigenous alternatives has caused the price to drop from completely unaffordable levels to ones that are more realistic for the India market -- exactly as generics are supposed to do:
Health advocates and cancer patients are happy that the fight between the big brand-name pharmaceutical producers and local generic drug makers is making cancer drugs cheaper. The vast majority of Indians don’t have any form of health insurance and out of pocket payments continue to be among the highest in the world. Cancer has also become one of the ten leading causes of death in India today. It is estimated that there are nearly 2 – 2.5 million cancer cases at any given point in time in the country.
Against that background, provisions in TPP that will make it much harder for local manufacturers to produce low-cost generics legally are troubling. They represent a clear attempt by the US to prevent the kind of access to vital patented drugs that India's compulsory licensing has permitted. Western pharmaceutical companies and their shareholders may rejoice if that happens, but many of those in emerging economies who are unable to afford life-saving medicines will die as a result.

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  1.  
    identicon
    Big Pharma Rep., May 23rd, 2012 @ 8:22pm

    Western pharmaceutical companies and their shareholders may rejoice if that happens, but many of those in emerging economies who are unable to afford life-saving medicines will die as a result.

    So what? If they can't afford the drug, it's not like we're losing any customers...

     

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  2.  
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    Mega1987 (profile), May 23rd, 2012 @ 8:24pm

    Sure... get that patent up... just make sure you jack-ass got enough body bags for it....

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 23rd, 2012 @ 8:40pm

    That is simply disgusting. I am reminded of formula companies' tactics. It sickens me when companies literally kill people through criminal negligence and greed, but then write if off because those people were poor, so why should the companies care? Capitalism is about profit-margins, after all. According to those rules, human decency doesn't play any role at all.

    Despicable.

     

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  4.  
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    Liz (profile), May 23rd, 2012 @ 9:17pm

    Re:

    Narrator: A new car built by my company leaves somewhere traveling at 60 mph. The rear differential locks up. The car crashes and burns with everyone trapped inside. Now, should we initiate a recall? Take the number of vehicles in the field, A, multiply by the probable rate of failure, B, multiply by the average out-of-court settlement, C. A times B times C equals X. If X is less than the cost of a recall, we don't do one.

    Business woman on plane: Are there a lot of these kinds of accidents?

    Narrator: You wouldn't believe.

    Business woman on plane: Which car company do you work for?

    Narrator: A major one.

     

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  5.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), May 23rd, 2012 @ 9:55pm

    Re:

    I really enjoy this. I get a feeling of schadenfreude, just thinking about the backlash and loss of profits that are going to occur against the pharma companies.

     

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  6.  
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    Pro Se (profile), May 23rd, 2012 @ 9:57pm

    Yes, let the pharmaceutical companies take all the financial risk to develop new drugs through the process of trial and error (and expensive process), and then cheer all those companies who seek to profit without having assumed any of the risk. It sounds to me that in these instances the concept of risk/reward must take a backseat to that of no risk/reward.

     

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  7.  
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    bordy (profile), May 23rd, 2012 @ 10:59pm

    Re:

    As you've pointed out, risk and reward are variables in the equation here...what about dignity? Shouldn't that be considered?

    It's easy to get the impression that Bayer hasn't considered it, because $5K+ compared to the generic prices appear to be a gouge. And trying to thwart access, even through legal process, is at best a dubious endeavor.

     

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  8.  
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    Matt, May 23rd, 2012 @ 11:15pm

    Re:

    But Bayer would never had expected to sell to this market at $5K a treaqtment. The research is already a sunk cost. So why not drop the price to $160, compete, make a profit on the increase in sales? With the number of patients in India they would surely make a greater profit than if they only sold a few treatments at $5K.

    I suppose the rest of world would catch on and demand the same. We can't expect an established company to change its ways can we? We can only hope that the Indian compulsory licensing system spreads to the rest of the world.

     

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  9.  
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    Dave Xanatos, May 23rd, 2012 @ 11:27pm

    Remember kids: Patents kill.

     

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  10.  
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    varagix, May 24th, 2012 @ 12:09am

    Re:

    That assumes that Bayer actually developed the drug. Most medical research now-a-days is done independently, such as by university laboratories (which would do the research regardless of pay) and is usually government subsidized. The only 'risk' the companies have in such a situation is that a competitor might buy the research and resulting patent before they do. (Quick wikipedia search shows that it was actually co-developed by two companies; Bayer and Onyx Pharmaceuticals, so that likely isn't the case)

    That also assumes that Indian officials care more about a foreign companies profits than their own country's health. I'm willing to bet that their own country's health comes before foreign companies, and before you throw a fit over that, ask yourself if the situation were reversed, if it were the US in need and, say, a Chinese company with the patents, would the US side with the foreign company or our local population?

     

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  11.  
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    The eejit (profile), May 24th, 2012 @ 12:18am

    Re:

    If I recall correctly, Hexavar was researched and its development almsot entirely funded through groups such as Cancer Research UK. So remind me again, please, why I should be donting to charity so that a megaconglomerate can rpofit with 5000% markups?

     

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  12.  
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    The eejit (profile), May 24th, 2012 @ 12:19am

    Re:

    I'm convined the head fo the legal department at Bayer is a moustache-twirling villain of the most cartoonish order.

     

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  13.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), May 24th, 2012 @ 12:29am

    Re:

    Yes, let the pharmaceutical companies take all the financial risk to develop new drugs through the process of trial and error (and expensive process), and then cheer all those companies who seek to profit without having assumed any of the risk.

    Except that's almost never the case. These days the major pharmas swoop in at as late a date as possible, after all the key research is done (often using federally funded grants).

    Why are you commenting on a subject you don't appear to know much about?

     

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  14.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), May 24th, 2012 @ 1:49am

    Re:

    Your right it is a big financial risk for them, they might blow a huge amount of money advertising how everyone needs this drug on the wrong demographic.
    I seem to remember they often enjoy rolling their marketing budgets for the drugs into "research" costs.
    I seem to remember they like to try to change up the drug in some minor way as the patent is about to expire to lock it up again.
    I seem to remember some of them are handed the rights to drugs already "discovered" and then cranking up the costs to recoup what that research cost them. Because something deemed to toxic for chemo became a huge cash cow for them. So what if people died around the globe, they were owed obscene profits for a drug they didn't fund the discovery of weren't they?

     

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  15.  
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    lfroen (profile), May 24th, 2012 @ 2:25am

    Re: Re:

    Yea, but wast majority of "research" money is not spent on advertizing, but on testing/certification.
    Thanks to US/EU regulations, testing on humans (you want your medical procedure/drugs tested, don't you?) is prohibitively expensive.
    Academics do a research, but don't do enough tests to qualify drugs for mass usage. That cost must be recouped somehow. Generic drugs don't have this cost - it's already paid by original manufacturer.
    So, how original manufacturer, (evil Big Pharma) should recoup those costs? Until today it's going through limited exclusivity period - patents. How long should it be - that's debatable.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2012 @ 2:27am

    with the overcrowding there is in the world today, it would be a cheaper option to have people die because they cant afford medicine than having to start another war! what a disgusting attitude! as usual, profits before people!!

     

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  17.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), May 24th, 2012 @ 3:01am

    Re: Re: Re:

    And lets not forget how they run those tests and then cover up the negative things putting profits above life.

     

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  18.  
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    drew (profile), May 24th, 2012 @ 3:10am

    Re: Re: Re:

    True, testing and certification must contribute a huge overhead.
    I think there's three questions rather than one though:
    Are Patents the best way of promoting progress?
    If so how long should the patent be?
    and, most importantly,
    Is recouping a company's costs more important than saving lives?

    The obvious rejoinder is that if the companies can't recoup their costs then they wouldn't be making any drugs at all, hence it becomes a tricky question.
    But to get back to the case in point, a quick shufti at google gives me a figure of about $8000 for an average yearly wage in India. So a drug costing 2/3rds of a annual salary probably isn't going to sell that many treatments, so I'm not sure how much they would have recouped on this in India anyway?

     

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  19.  
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    Ninja (profile), May 24th, 2012 @ 3:44am

    Re:

    Then I guess the current system is broken. At least I think a system that doesn't weight the fact that lives will be lost just so the companies can recoup their costs is completely broken. While I see your point (and Mike's in his reply) one has to stop and think about the absurd.

     

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  20.  
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    lfroen (profile), May 24th, 2012 @ 3:46am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    >> Are Patents the best way of promoting progress?
    No, but this is irrelevant question. Companies use patents to recoup huge certification costs. Don't like this process - fight to lower qualification barriers first.

    >> Is recouping a company's costs more important than saving lives?
    Yes. Welcome to real world, not all lives are equally valuable.
    Don't like it - why not start your own pharma company and we'll see how that will work?

    >> so I'm not sure how much they would have recouped on this in India anyway?
    You're so smart! Call Bayer's CEO immediately and give your valuable advise. Hint for you: annual salary is irrelevant here. What's relevant is annual salary _of target population_. If annual salary here (doesn't matter where) is ~$3000/month, does it mean that BMW should close the shop?

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2012 @ 4:19am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    > Welcome to real world, not all lives are equally valuable.

    Please tell me you're applying Poe's Law.

     

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  22.  
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    lfroen (profile), May 24th, 2012 @ 4:38am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Please tell me you don't have life insurance.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2012 @ 4:42am

    Re: Re:

    I am Jack's raging bile duct...

     

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  24.  
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    The eejit (profile), May 24th, 2012 @ 4:46am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    No, that's actually true*

    *for a psychological/social level of true.

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2012 @ 4:49am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You say that like people can't possible be able to do it by themselves and succeed.

    You do know that most drugs produced today bear a striking resemblance to the cooking process right?

    What happens when people discover that they actually can produce their own medicine?

    I know what it happens, the reasoning for all that patent stuff gets out the window and people get educated on how it is produced and how quality control works, prices go down and monopolies grumble.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2012 @ 4:52am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Maybe not all life is equally important to you, it is to me though.

    That is why I will support anyone who breaks those patents.

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2012 @ 5:02am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Quote:
    Yea, but wast majority of "research" money is not spent on advertizing

    Do you have any data on that please?

    Quote:
    Finally, IMS data seem inconsistent with estimates based on the information in the annual reports of pharmaceutical companies. For example, in an accounting study based on the annual reports of ten of the largest global pharmaceutical firms, Lauzon and Hasbani showed that between 1996 and 2005, these firms globally spent a total of US$739 billion on “marketing and administration.” In comparison, these same firms spent US$699 billion in manufacturing costs, US$288 billion in R&D, and had a net investment in property and equipment of US$43 billion, while receiving US$558 billion in profits [9].

    Source: http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pmed.0050001

    Article about the same study elsewhere.
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080105140107.htm

    Are you sure those companies don't spend money on advertizing?

    By their own estimates according to IML something near 50% of all the spending done by those companies is directed at marketing that means at the very least half the price of medicine is because of marketing and the study also points out failings and inconsistencies in the way those numbers are presented to the public, so where do your information come from exactly?

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2012 @ 5:27am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Quote:
    Yes. Welcome to real world, not all lives are equally valuable.
    Don't like it - why not start your own pharma company and we'll see how that will work?


    Actually that is a very good idea, I can see a future where everybody produce their own medicine or the very least the precursors of the drugs, is not like is different from cooking rice or having an aquarium, you go there feed the bacteria the reproduce and produce the compounds needed and you test it to see if there are any problems with it, how hard can it be?

    Modern penicillin production started with brewing technology adapted to drug manufacturing, there are many little stills capable of doing it today, what is lacking is knowledge and QA but the technology is there to start in your own home production of drugs for a variety of problems many of them are not even under patents anymore, so that is actually not a bad idea at all.

    If people want to drive the cost down they will need to start doing it themselves.

    Can you imagine when you go to a shop and buy a new brewing machine that will produce all the medicine you can take and it does it all including the quality control check just like the big machines do it?

    About life, well for some that is true, not all life is equal, for me all life is precious it doesn't matter who's life it is.

     

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  29.  
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    TDR, May 24th, 2012 @ 5:28am

    Incidentally, wasn't it Bayer whose aspirin was found to be causing people to have heart attacks?

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2012 @ 5:29am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I would like to point out that these studies use a well known statistical dodge. They have combined marketing and administration in the same bin. It makes for a nice sound bite but the true amount they spend on marketing is probably nowhere close to 50% of their total expenditures. A large chunk of that US$739 billion is due to administration which covers all their executive salaries and perks (such as private air travel, etc) not to mention all the salaries of their middle managers and even their storeroom clerks and mailboys.

     

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  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2012 @ 5:40am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    One thing I like to point out, inside a society with very low levels of education that patent thing may work because others don't know better, but inside a society with very large numbers of educated people I want to see anybody try and stop others from manufacturing their own drugs, many will die because of manufacturing problems nature will weed out the dumb, but the ones that survive the system will be forever out of the control of patents.

    I was thinking about the patent system and how generous it is, you can refile ad infinitum until you get it right, there are no penalties for getting it wrong, but if you try to do something else and get it wrong you get instant punishment to discourage you from ever doing it again. There is something wrong with that, it should be the exact opposite, where people trying to do something for themselves get all the leniency and information needed to get it right and people trying to enact monopolies gets punished if they get it wrong so they be very careful when claiming something.

     

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  32.  
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    Michael, May 24th, 2012 @ 5:40am

    The artificially high price-fixing speaks volumes about what the medical/pharmaceutical companies' main priority is.

    Health care is fast becoming something exclusively for the rich.

     

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  33.  
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    rangda (profile), May 24th, 2012 @ 5:43am

    Re: Re:

    if it were the US in need and, say, a Chinese company with the patents, would the US side with the foreign company or our local population?

    The obvious answer is that the US government would side with whichever side made the most campaign contributions, which would most likely be the Chinese company.

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2012 @ 5:45am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Which the actual researches pointed out. That is why in their own numbers they found the industry spends 24% in marketing against 13% in R&D.

    Quote:
    CAM reported total promotion spending by the U.S. pharmaceutical industry as US$33.5 billion in their 2004 report, while IMS reported US$27.7 billion for the same year. The authors observed, however, important differences in figures according to each promotion category. By selectively using both sets of figures provided by IMS and CAM, in order to determine the most relevant data for each category, and adjusting for methodological differences between the ways IMS and CAM collect data, the authors arrived at US$57.5 billion for the total amount spent on pharmaceutical promotion in 2004. The industry spent approximately US$61,000 in promotion per physician during 2004, according to Gagnon.

    “Even our revised promotion figure for 2004 is apt to be understated, as there are other promotion avenues that are not likely to be taken into consideration by IMS or CAM, such as ghost-writing and off-label promotion,” says Gagnon. “Also, seeding trials, which are designed to promote the prescription of new drugs, may be allocated to other budget categories.”

     

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  35.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2012 @ 5:52am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Quote:
    Annual reports, however, have their own limitations. First, pharmaceutical firms are multinational and diversified; their annual reports provide no information on how much they spend on pharmaceutical marketing, as compared to the marketing of their non-pharmaceutical products, and they do not provide information about how much is spent on marketing specifically in the US. Second, annual reports merge the categories of “marketing” and “administration,” without delineating the relative importance of each. Finally, “marketing” is a category that includes more than just promotion; it also includes the costs of packaging and distribution. In terms of offering a more precise estimate of overall expenditures on pharmaceutical promotion in the US, annual reports are thus far from satisfactory.

    In the absence of any collection of information on promotional spending by government or any other noncommercial source, the market research company IMS has long been the only source of such information, which it gains by surveying pharmaceutical firms. Since 2003, however, the market research company CAM has been providing comprehensive information on promotion expenditures by surveying doctors instead of firms. (In July 2005, CAM was merged into the Cegedim Group, another market research company.) We chose to compare IMS data to those produced by CAM in order to provide a more accurate estimate of promotional spending in the US. Other proprietary sources of data do not break down promotional expenditures into different categories and therefore were not used in our comparison.

    Source: http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pmed.0050001

    If by dodge you mean IMS trying to hide the total expenditure in advertisement by big companies yes that is exactly what they did, the researchers on the other hand aware of the problems with that took care to look beyond that and found some numbers.

     

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  36.  
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    drew (profile), May 24th, 2012 @ 6:00am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    ">> Are Patents the best way of promoting progress?
    No, but this is irrelevant question. Companies use patents to recoup huge certification costs. Don't like this process - fight to lower qualification barriers first."
    My understanding was that this post was about how US uses mechanisms like the TPP to export its IP laws (that are developed by vested interests), the IP in this question is a patent, hence it seems relevant to the discussion.

    ">> Is recouping a company's costs more important than saving lives?
    Yes. Welcome to real world, not all lives are equally valuable.
    Don't like it - why not start your own pharma company and we'll see how that will work?"
    "Real world" is a variable thing though isn't it? Do you give to charity? If so you're implicitly deciding that a proportion of your profit is worth less than the lives that it might save. The Indian government obviously made a decision that they considered the lives of their populace more important than Bayer's profits. Something that potentially affects over a billion people seems fairly real world to me.
    Besides which, isn't starting their own pharma company exactly what Cipla and Natco have done?

    ">> so I'm not sure how much they would have recouped on this in India anyway?
    You're so smart! Call Bayer's CEO immediately and give your valuable advise. Hint for you: annual salary is irrelevant here. What's relevant is annual salary _of target population_. If annual salary here (doesn't matter where) is ~$3000/month, does it mean that BMW should close the shop?"
    You're very aggressive this morning, have I offended you? Apologies if so. The BMW analogy isn't really a very good one though is it? Manufacturing costs of a BMW compared to a Tata are very different. Research and licensing are sunk costs, Bayer might find that if they reduced their profit-per-course to something that competes with the generic market they might have an target population of around a billion people rather than just the tiny percentage at the top of the salary scale. They might not of course, I'm sure they've done the maths, so they've decided to pay some lawyers instead and people will die if they win.
    All of which does tend to reinforce the idea of the whole Evil Big Pharma thing.

     

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  37.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2012 @ 6:02am

    Re:

    Except that they don't always take all the financial risk to develop new drugs. There are a lot of smaller labs that are doing the research and clinical trials for drugs that they developed and then the large companies will license the product or purchase the company. I'm sure they spend a lot on R&D but not in every case.

     

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  38.  
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    lfroen (profile), May 24th, 2012 @ 6:03am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    >> I can see a future where everybody produce their own medicine
    Please share stuff you're smoking. Did you produced it by yourself?

     

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  39.  
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    lfroen (profile), May 24th, 2012 @ 6:14am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    >> Do you give to charity?
    No. Does it make me evil? Of cause not, but you seems to think so.

    >> The Indian government obviously made a decision that they considered the lives of their populace more important than Bayer's profits.
    Oh, how cute of them. Since Bayer's profits are going to US, it's easy choice, isn't it? Will you excuse me if I value profits of my $company (not US-based, don't worry) more that lives of entire Africa?

    >> Research and licensing are sunk costs
    Did you already offered your services to Bayer as genius economist? If they refused, that's probably because your explanation makes no sense. How is your business doing?

     

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  40.  
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    drew (profile), May 24th, 2012 @ 6:22am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    ">> Do you give to charity?
    No. Does it make me evil? Of cause not, but you seems to think so."
    Not at all, just giving an example of where people in the real world put profit second. No evil was implied in the writing of this post.

    ">> The Indian government obviously made a decision that they considered the lives of their populace more important than Bayer's profits.
    Oh, how cute of them. Since Bayer's profits are going to US, it's easy choice, isn't it? Will you excuse me if I value profits of my $company (not US-based, don't worry) more that lives of entire Africa?"
    Yes, yes it is an easy choice. I'm afraid you'll have to clarify your point for me though. As for valuing your company profits over all the lives in africa, actually I won't excuse you for that, it feels horrifically inhumane to me.

    ">> Research and licensing are sunk costs
    Did you already offered your services to Bayer as genius economist? If they refused, that's probably because your explanation makes no sense. How is your business doing?"
    My business is doing fine thanks, if you'd like to explain why you think my statement about those being sunk costs is wrong we can continue the discussion. Or you can continue to make petty insults instead of coherent arguments.
    Either way is good with me.

     

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  41.  
    icon
    lfroen (profile), May 24th, 2012 @ 6:23am

    Re:

    Main priority of any company is profit. It's up to your government to make sure they don't hurt (too many) people in the process.
    If, for example, Smith-And-Wesson are making people-killing devices, it's government's job to regulate who can buy such. Or Ford doesn't create over-polluting trucks. Or Boeing's plane doesn't fall from the sky. And so on.

    >> Health care is fast becoming something exclusively for the rich.
    Some health care IS exclusivity for the rich. That's one of reasons people want to be rich in a first place. Again, it's up to your government to determine limits of such exclusivity.

     

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  42.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2012 @ 6:23am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    A future where people come together to help one another out? With 3D printers that use chemicals instead of materials?

    Balderdash!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
    icon
    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), May 24th, 2012 @ 6:39am

    Re:

    When individuals don't pay the actual cost of health care then they don't care how much it costs. "Insurance covers it." or "The government picks up the tab." I won't shop around for the best price, what's the point? I pay the same price ($100 deductible) for the same procedure wherever I go regardless if it costs $14k at the specialist clinic or $6k at the hospital. What does the medical industry care if they can just jack up the price because government or insurance will pay for it all because consumers are ignorant of the true cost. Lack of competition allows for that, unfettered price hikes. That is why your health insurance premiums are skyrocketing.

     

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  44.  
    identicon
    figures, May 24th, 2012 @ 6:41am

    pharma hates people with cancer.

    heres hoping they get it instead.

     

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  45.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2012 @ 7:12am

    Basic research is (often) government-sponsored. But the initial discovery cost is nearly neglectable, when compared to the development costs. Real, today money are poured in in the clinical trials, designed to ensure that the new drug is safe and effective. And it is required by the government. That accounts for up to a billion dollars today, way before you can see any return (less profit).

    So, which part of this system you suggest we should chop? Clinical trials? Make it smaller? Stop paying doctors to run those trials, hoping that they have pure hearts and will work for free? Stop using the qualified facilities to manufacture drugs that use 2-3x safety checks to ensure that what you take is what was prescribed? Yeah, we can make the stuff on the cheap in China, mix it with chalk and sell it to you for a penny. But don't complain if one day your aspirin will fry your stomach and liver. Who's fault that would be?

     

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  46.  
    icon
    Pro Se (profile), May 24th, 2012 @ 7:17am

    Re: Re:

    Perhaps I am commenting because I have at various times represented drug companies is domestic and international patent matters, beginning from the commencement of R&D, through FDA approval, and through market introduction.

    At the same time, I am intimately familiar with all the various sources of government funding, ranging from contracts to grants to cooperative agreements, as well as the statements of work performed under such funding instruments.

     

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  47.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2012 @ 7:23am

    Re:

    Reduce marketing. If it is a good drug then word of mouth is going to be best. That is we're half the cost for the drug goes.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  48.  
    identicon
    Michael, May 24th, 2012 @ 7:35am

    Re: Re:

    "Main priority of any company is profit. It's up to your government to make sure they don't hurt (too many) people in the process."

    Yes but the pharmaceutical corps' pricing is well beyond excessive.

    "Some health care IS exclusivity for the rich. That's one of reasons people want to be rich in a first place. Again, it's up to your government to determine limits of such exclusivity."

    Yet if you look at what's being done, they're working in tandem with the pharm. corps to drive prices through the roof and maintain a monopoly on potentially life-saving drugs. It's more important to them that the pharm. corps maintain astronomical fixed costs than it is to have alteratives at much lower cost. That's why they're cracking down on imported drugs from Canada. We're able to import goods such as foreign movies, games, music, etc. etc., just not anything which can undercut their overly expensive drugs.

     

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  49.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2012 @ 7:47am

    Re:

    How about making clinical trials less costly?
    Patientslikeme just proved they can do equally or better than traditional means, open source software for that exact purpose is appearing at staggering rates, so could we please make the trials less costly?

    I am sure, many people would volunteer to do all the trials that people need if they it was for their own good.

    Humanity would greatly appreciate that.

    Quality checks today are mostly automated, there is nothing technologically barring people from producing drugs in their own homes, the technical hurdles have been overcome, it is a matter of policy not technology. Distributed production of drugs could greatly improve availability and cost. Basic research is done already with government funding so there would be no radical changes in that area.

    About aspirin, did you know that it was a home medicine extracted from the bark of trees?

    Mostly the effects you refer too about acetylsalicylic acid comes down to dosage not impurities, how is that an insurmountable problem in any way form or shape?

     

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  50.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2012 @ 7:48am

    Re:

    Mostly the effects you refer to, about acetylsalicylic acid comes down to dosage not impurities, how is that an insurmountable problem in any way form or shape?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  51.  
    identicon
    Michael, May 24th, 2012 @ 7:54am

    Re: Re:

    "When individuals don't pay the actual cost of health care then they don't care how much it costs. 'Insurance covers it.' or 'The government picks up the tab.' I won't shop around for the best price, what's the point? I pay the same price ($100 deductible) for the same procedure wherever I go regardless if it costs $14k at the specialist clinic or $6k at the hospital. What does the medical industry care if they can just jack up the price because government or insurance will pay for it all because consumers are ignorant of the true cost. Lack of competition allows for that, unfettered price hikes. That is why your health insurance premiums are skyrocketing."

    All valid points. The American people are the ones footing the bill for medical expenses, so it's to the pharm. corps' benefit to keep jacking up prices.

    This all reminds me of all those 'donate to help find a cure for X' or other such things. The thing is, there's more money in the disease/ailment than in the cure, so it's in their best interests to prevent cures from ever taking shape. A healthy public is anathema to the medical/pharm industries.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  52.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2012 @ 7:55am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Quote:
    Probably the best part of the evening was when the audience got to answer two questions.

    If you could build anything out of biology, what would you build and why?
    What would you ask your neighbors if they were building this organism in the house next door to you?

    In response to the first, some wanted to engineer bugs that would clean the bathroom for you. Others wanted to make organisms that could consume nuclear waste. Still others wanted to make organisms that could diagnose what was wrong with their dogs. In response to the second, I think one audience member put it most succinctly when they asked, “Is it safe?”.

    Source: http://blog.ginkgobioworks.com/2009/01/26/diy-bioengineering-recap-of-the-recent-mit-soapbox-session -on-diybio/

    Quote:
    Why buy drugs from pharmaceutical companies when you can make them yourself? It’s not as far-out of an idea as it sounds. Artist Tuur van Balen recently offered up his method for hacking yogurt’s DNA to turn it into Prozac.

    Source: http://www.fastcoexist.com/1679356/diy-bioengineering-make-your-own-antidepressant-yogurt

     

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  53.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2012 @ 8:03am

    Re: Re:

    Depends on how many politicians the Chinese have purchased.

     

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  54.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2012 @ 8:05am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Quote:
    Do it your self bio-engineering with designer Tuur van Balen.

    Presented at the Next Nature Power Show 2011 in Amsterdam.

    Youtube: Tuur van Balen - Hacking Yoghurt

    There was a time that you needed a million dollars to do that.

    Today you go to PartsRegistry choose the DNA parts you want and ask a lab to synthesize the organism for you.

    OMG! Oh the horror!
    People can do that today!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  55.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2012 @ 8:05am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Quote:
    Do it your self bio-engineering with designer Tuur van Balen.

    Presented at the Next Nature Power Show 2011 in Amsterdam.

    Youtube: Tuur van Balen - Hacking Yoghurt

    There was a time that you needed a million dollars to do that.

    Today you go to PartsRegistry choose the DNA parts you want and ask a lab to synthesize the organism for you.

    OMG! Oh the horror!
    People can do that today!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  56.  
    icon
    iamtheky (profile), May 24th, 2012 @ 8:12am

    Re: Re:

    Why are you commenting on a subject you don't appear to know much about?

    speaking of...can we get a follow up on the facebook IPO post.

    ty, tyvm.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  57.  
    identicon
    rubberpants, May 24th, 2012 @ 8:23am

    Re: Re:

    No one could be as soulless as you're pretending to be.

    Do you believe in the concept of right and wrong - that some things should not be done, even if they're profitable because they might hurt people, or that some things that aren't profitable should be done anyway because they make life better for everyone?

    The current economic system and the opportunities it affords the selfish doesn't make it okay for anyone to be a dirtbag.

     

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  58.  
    identicon
    rubberpants, May 24th, 2012 @ 8:31am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    >> Do you give to charity?
    No. Does it make me evil? Of cause not, but you seems to think so.


    Yes. That's the definition of evil.

     

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  59.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2012 @ 8:34am

    Re: Re:

    Quote:
    Some health care IS exclusivity for the rich. That's one of reasons people want to be rich in a first place. Again, it's up to your government to determine limits of such exclusivity.

    True some healthcare is the domain of the rich, nobody today would be able to afford anything if they weren't insured, that is the problem with the system today, if the government doesn't care well then they can't complain when others(countries or their own people) find ways around those monopolies, it will harm the companies more than if they competed fairly in the market in the first place.

    The very thing you seem not to realize is that, people will find a way to go around restrictions if they are motivated to do so and I so highly motivated people once they face death.

    When the options are die or rob someone, I believe most people will rob others no matter what, it is not prudent or in the interest long term of any company to put others in that position, they will lose, because they are few that is reality for you.

    Screw people and they will find a way to screw you back a thousand times over since every single individual will do it to you what you did to them and they vastly outnumber the people who believe are better than others.

    That is exactly why governments everywhere subsidize food production and take great care to not let it go down because if it does shortly after riots break out and chaos comes in, is a matter of national security and so is health, no matter what the companies say, no matter what it costs them if it is only for a few the other large part of the population left behind will find a way to counter that and achieve the same results and there is no law that is going to stop people from doing it, they will not die so others can have a monopoly on anything and if you believe people will just roll over and die you are mistaken.

     

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  60.  
    identicon
    rubberpants, May 24th, 2012 @ 8:36am

    Re: Re:

    It's up to your government to make sure they don't hurt (too many) people in the process.

    No it isn't. Not hurting others is everyone's responsibility.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  61.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2012 @ 8:50am

    Re: Re:

    That is exactly why forcing people to get insurance is a bad idea.

    People need to realize that they are responsible for the quality of care that they receive and taking away the decision to do so, does more harm than good, subsidizing healthcare does more harm than good because than you exclude the need to improve things, the urgency to find solutions and so forth at the expense of the retirement funds that the government was responsible of overseeing and it uses for other purposes.

    America is apparently at a breaking point today and I don't know about you, but I am sure not leaving my future in the hands of others to decide I am an acceptable casualty of circumstances.

    This is why anything I can produce I will do it myself, food, medicine, cloths, it seems post apocalyptic but I don't see it that way, what I see is a means to reduce the cost of living by learning to do things by myself, since in the future I may need that knowledge, if for nothing else just to have the peace of mind of knowing I will be able to live comfortably if the need arises, it takes away the fear and uncertainty.

    If you go to a hospital today they won't let you in for an aspirin if you are not insured that is not good, people should take away the responsibilities for producing the simple things they can and let only the real hard stuff in control of others.

     

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  62.  
    identicon
    John Thacker, May 24th, 2012 @ 9:13am

    Western pharmaceutical companies and their shareholders may rejoice if that happens, but many of those in emerging economies who are unable to afford life-saving medicines will die as a result.


    Seems about as fair as saying that if the Indian companies continue to be allowed to produce these drugs that "Indian pharmaceutical companies and their shareholders may rejoice if that happens, but many of those who suffer from diseases whose cures are not invented will die as a result."

    You can compare company profits to company profits if you want, but the real argument is about saving people now versus saving people later. It may be that the patents don't spur innovation, but if so, that's where the argument should go.

    My inclination is that pharma patents do spur research in a way that software patents or various silly obvious patents don't. I could be wrong. But please convince me on that basis.

     

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  63.  
    icon
    gorehound (profile), May 24th, 2012 @ 9:19am

    That's even cheaper than Natco's price of $163, to say nothing of Bayer's $5,128 for the same course.

    And we all know just how poor a lot of these people are in a lot of these Nations.Of all the nerve charging over 5 Grand for Meds while others do it for $163.Like a villager in a village who might make $100 US every month or even a year can go right out and afford.

    TPP You are a piece of shit ! Medicines are meant to save lives but our Government has no morals except their moral of taking large Corporate Cash.

     

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  64.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2012 @ 9:45am

    Is Bayer behind Cipla

    Has any investigation been done on who funds or has interests in Cipla? Has it received any money from Bayer? Just tossing out some conspiracy theories that Cipla may just be the thin edge of a wedge to revoke the mandatory licensing.

     

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  65.  
    icon
    Pro Se (profile), May 24th, 2012 @ 9:45am

    Re: Re:

    All this talk about federal funding, be it via contract or cooperative agreement or grant, would to a large degree be ameliorated if only those who rail against private sector companies took the time to read 35 USC 202, 35 USC 203, and FAR 52.227-11, paras. (d)(2) and (h).

    In doing so they should specifically take note of the rights granted to the USG for "subject inventions" as to which the private entity elects to take title, including march-in rights.

    As for the pharma industry itself, I do seem to recall stating I have represented individual companies over the years, starting with the pursuit of an idea through market introduction, including the law as it pertains to patents nearing the end of their terms and orphan drugs.

    Of course, I have no information concerning you personally that permits me to make pejorative statements such as yours above.

     

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  66.  
    icon
    Pro Se (profile), May 24th, 2012 @ 9:52am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Forgot I made a very brief comment earlier in this thread. Nevertheless, this comment is a bit more detailed in that it provides citations to relevant statutes and regulations that come into play when inventions are conceived or first actually reduced to practice under a US Government contract, grant, or cooperative agreement (know in the statute as "funding agreements").

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  67.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), May 24th, 2012 @ 9:57am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    >> Are Patents the best way of promoting progress?
    No, but this is irrelevant question.


    It's one of the most relevant questions, as promoting progress is the sole Constitutional purpose of the patent system.

    >> Is recouping a company's costs more important than saving lives?
    Yes. Welcome to real world, not all lives are equally valuable.


    A can't imagine a purer expression of sociopathy than this.

     

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  68.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), May 24th, 2012 @ 9:59am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    >> Do you give to charity?
    No. Does it make me evil?


    Nope.

    Will you excuse me if I value profits of my $company (not US-based, don't worry) more that lives of entire Africa?


    This makes you evil.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  69.  
    icon
    John Fenderson (profile), May 24th, 2012 @ 10:06am

    Re: Re: Re:

    nobody today would be able to afford anything if they weren't insured, that is the problem with the system today


    True, and also very few people can afford treatment for really serious injury or illness even when they do have insurance.

     

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  70.  
    identicon
    Absolutely Livid, May 24th, 2012 @ 10:44am

    $5,128.00

    I am going to BOYCOTT ALL BAYER PRODUCTS

     

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  71.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2012 @ 11:12am

    Re: Re: Re:

    What the law is today is a far cry from what it should be and still doesn't justify what it does and what the US government do to others to force that vision upon them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  72.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2012 @ 2:13pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    There's a pretty big difference between a person's net monetary worth and their value to society. Or are you responsible for several children and elderly people who might starve if you die? That's the situation many of these families are facing.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  73.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2012 @ 2:17pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Not in the elitist, almost eugenicist way Ifroen was implying. Determining human worth through money alone is simplistic, classist, and a good way to completely miss the point of why the Indian government granted the license in the first place.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  74.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 24th, 2012 @ 2:44pm

    Re:

    The AMIS study? That was debunked 30 years ago.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  75.  
    identicon
    AC Cobra, May 24th, 2012 @ 6:08pm

    Bayer should burn

    There is a special circle of hell for those who profit from the suffering of others.

    Bayer has made more than enough on this drug already to recoup their cost of development (which probably consists of buying someone else's work at a deep discount, doing some testing, and then marketing it). If they deserved to call themselves human they would be selling it at cost by now.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  76.  
    icon
    The eejit (profile), May 25th, 2012 @ 12:31am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Thank you for at least citing where you believe us to be wrong. I'll have a look at that late and get back to you, okay? :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  77.  
    identicon
    John Thacker, May 25th, 2012 @ 10:23pm

    Re: Re:

    Mike, you're the one who doesn't know much about pharmaceuticals at all.

    The "pharma companies don't do key research, they just swoop in" argument is one of the key signs of a crank who doesn't understand drugs at all.

    If it's so easy and cheap to produce a working drug from the basic research, why don't the government labs, or the generics to make a drug? Why is it so difficult to replicate the results of published in academic work, as industry has constantly found?

    To the extent that funded research makes drugs research easier, that definitely increases the number of drugs. But there are always drugs on the margin that might or might not make sense to research, once you take into account the chance of failure. The risk of failure, even when a drug reaches Stage III trials, is so great that any successful drug must pay for itself many, many times over in order to pay for all the failures.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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