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Record number of patent expiration's could slash pharmaceutical industry profits in half

Traditionally, one of the largest and most profitable industries in America has been pharmaceuticals. Pharmaceutical companies are interesting in that they make products that no one wants, but hundreds of thousands of people must have to survive.

The pharmaceutical industry as we know it is due for some big changes. Last month, DailyTech reported that former Intel CEO Andrew S. Grove ripped the pharmaceutical industry for its underperforming research operations. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that high profile medications coming off patent between now and 2012 will result in a loss of about $67 billion USD in income for top U.S. pharmaceutical companies. That amount is about half what the pharmaceutical industry made in combined sales during 2007.

Few will feel sorry for the declining sales of these pharmaceutical giants since many Americans are literally forced to decide between food and their life saving medications each month. Medications moving from patented status to non-patented status allow much lower cost generic medications to come to market.

The Wall Street Journal says that 2010 could be the worst year for Pfizer when it loses its patent for the drug Lipitor -- the most successful medication ever. Drugs are given a patent of 20 years where no other manufacturer can legally make a generic version of the medication. The catch is that it can take large amounts of that 20-year period to get the drug to market. However, drug companies can reap profits on patented medications in the 90% to 95% range.

Three high profile medications from Merck & Co have patents expiring in 2012 including Fosamax, Singulair and Cozaar. Those three drugs combine to provide 44% of Merck’s revenue. To continue operating many of the pharmaceutical companies, like Merck, are diversifying and buying biotech companies, which are seen as the next big area of breakthrough for medications and disease treatments. The reason biotech firms are popular purchases for pharmaceutical giants is that there is currently no U.S. regulatory pathway for generic biotech drugs, effectively allowing biotech drug inventors to sell a brand only product indefinitely until new legislation is mandated.

Many pharmaceutical companies are cutting staff to maintain profits with companies like Eli Lilly & Co announcing it will cut 10% of its workforce and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. announcing it will cut about 4300 jobs and close 27 manufacturing facilities. Some drug makers are also looking to outsource the manufacture of their medications overseas where the costs are much lower. Such costs saving measures are unlikely to mean lower drug prices for U.S. consumers where the brunt of the cost of development of a medication is made back by drug makers.

The U.S. is one of the few developed nations that doesn’t mandate medication prices. This is the reason so many U.S. consumers flock to Canadian pharmacies where they can get the same medications they would purchase in the U.S. at a fraction of the cost. Drug companies have spent millions lobbying congress to prevent the importation of drugs from Canada, not because of safety concerns but because of profit loss. Canada’s government negotiates the price for medications sold nationally making them significantly cheaper than buying the same medications here.

The fear for many is that the dropping profit margins will result in less research and development funding, leading to less new drugs being developed. This is not only a concern for disease conditions that have few or no treatments, but a concern for more common conditions requiring antibiotics. Antibiotics that worked well in the past are beginning to lose effectiveness as bacteria and viruses mutate into forms that are resistant to current antibiotics.

The FDA says it hasn’t changed the way it approves drugs to make requirements stricter, that drug companies simply don’t submit as many drugs for approval.



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good
By Homerboy on 12/6/2007 2:14:50 PM , Rating: 2
they've made enough profit for the past X years.




RE: good
By Cobra Commander on 12/6/2007 2:26:14 PM , Rating: 2
yeah... pretty confident they'll figure out a new way to screw us just as hard


RE: good
By PWNettle on 12/6/2007 5:54:55 PM , Rating: 3
Yup, they'll just come out with a slightly new and improved version with a new patent, and their pushers (er, the doctors) will help them keep the easy money flowing.


RE: good
By FITCamaro on 12/6/07, Rating: -1
RE: good
By Evangels on 12/6/2007 2:36:00 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
The fact is that drug research is extremely expensive. Not only do you spend years just paying scientists just to develop the drugs, you have to spend millions if not tens or hundreds of millions to get the drug approved for sale.


The research was also put into "wrong" direction. They are trying to invent the Drug that will make you feel better but won't cure you at all. That way you will have to keep buying them. If you know anyone works for those Companies Above.... you know what I mean.


RE: good
By steven975 on 12/6/2007 2:50:32 PM , Rating: 2
True, but only to a point.

Many things can't be cured by a pill. I've got vital organs that are destroyed and am only here due to the medications that have been developed in recent years.

IMO, the US drug companies need to grow a backbone and charge the other countries more appropriate prices. That could save US consumers a lot of money.


RE: good
By Lonyo on 12/6/2007 4:34:51 PM , Rating: 2
Other countries like where?
China will make knock=offs, countries with socialised healthcare just won't buy the drugs.
You can't just increase prices, because your product will just not get sold. There are many drugs with are not available in the UK because they are too expensive for the NHS to buy, so they go without.
Sure, individuals could purchase those same drugs at a vastly inflated cost, but the number of people who would be able to do that is quite small.
There have been many instances of very effective drugs which haven't been made available because they are already too expensive.


RE: good
By Samus on 12/7/2007 12:47:00 AM , Rating: 2
Such as drugs that treat Cervical Cancer and HIV...


RE: good
By Pneumothorax on 12/7/2007 9:23:35 AM , Rating: 1
Have you heard of Gardisil? It's basically a cure for cervical cancer, but as a doc practicing in the "Bible Belt" I've met stiff resistance from parents who feel that a vaccine against cervical cancer is going to make their daughters promiscuous. Kinda sounds like the Taliban if you ask me lol.


RE: good
By TomZ on 12/7/2007 9:33:26 AM , Rating: 2
Some of these people are probably even warped enough to see cervical cancer as "God's punishment" for being promiscious.


RE: good
By AsicsNow on 12/7/2007 2:33:04 PM , Rating: 3
Its actually not a cervical cancer drug at all. It is a genital warts vaccine. However, genital warts in females do often lead to cervical cancer because they can occur inside in the vagina where they are hard to detect, and even harder to treat with topical treatments available to males.

It won't cure cervical cancer at all, or really help if you already have genital warts, but it is a great preventative.

I totally agree that people need to be more open minded about the treatment, but I don't think its quite as big of a problem with doctors allowing the treatment in the bible belt as you state. The biggest problem is simply awareness of what the drug actually does, and getting young people to know about it.


RE: good
By Pneumothorax on 12/7/2007 4:25:06 PM , Rating: 1
What I meant is I am a doc practicing in upper state Georgia... I didn't mean to sound like a cure, but it's an awesome prevention. I try to offer it to all females 9-26, but I meet stiff resistance from many parents even after I blow 5 minutes trying to explain it for the 12 minutes I'm alloted by the insurance co's for the visit. It works MUCH better if given before "first contact" if you know what I mean.


RE: good
By Ringold on 12/6/2007 4:43:34 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
IMO, the US drug companies need to grow a backbone and charge the other countries more appropriate prices. That could save US consumers a lot of money.


I'm afraid that'd go one of two ways..

A) Socialist countries submit and allow the free market to operate

B) Socialist countries get pissed off, seize all pharma companies assets within their realm, flaunt international law and just start making it all themselves, nearly eradicating the industry.

There's more precedent, I think, for the latter than the former..


RE: good
By TomZ on 12/7/2007 12:48:46 PM , Rating: 3
Downrated...why? Seems like an insightful comment to me.


RE: good
By rcc on 12/7/2007 2:13:34 PM , Rating: 3
Because it didn't start with "Corporations are evil" take their money!


RE: good
By omnicronx on 12/6/2007 5:21:22 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
IMO, the US drug companies need to grow a backbone and charge the other countries more appropriate prices. That could save US consumers a lot of money.
Typical American... If everyone else is doing something else, you must be right! Just look at the Metric system! Like cmon counting in multiples of 10? What kind of idiot thought of that!!!

I am also sure that drug companies would share their newly found profits with all americans, because they are all honestly run community driven companies right?

American drug companies are the problem , nough said


RE: good
By clovell on 12/6/2007 5:22:49 PM , Rating: 4
> I am also sure that drug companies would share their newly found profits with all americans, because they are all honestly run community driven companies right?

Believe it or not, some are.

> American drug companies are the problem , nough said

That's a rather baseless generalization.


RE: good
By omnicronx on 12/6/2007 8:50:35 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
That's a rather baseless generalization.

Did you read the article? Is it any wonder how profits for said drug company is going to fall 44% (billion of dollars) because of one drug? That means that generic drug companies can make the same product for a fraction of the cost.

Once again, I work for a drug company, what do you do?
What are you basing you comments upon?


RE: good
By masher2 (blog) on 12/6/2007 11:19:25 PM , Rating: 2
> "That means that generic drug companies can make the same product for a fraction of the cost."

Of course. Because manufacturing is a tiny fraction of the total cost of bringing a new drug to market....not to mention the fact that most drugs never even make it that far. Drug companies routinely spend billions on drugs that never get approved. So when they get a winner, they have to make it up. Oh, and let's not forget their massive liability exposure. A class action suit for a problem that didn't turn up in drug testing can easily run to 9 or even 10 figures.


RE: good
By omnicronx on 12/7/2007 12:05:29 AM , Rating: 2
In this situation I would tend to agree with you, it was probably a bad example to use, but once again, you still pay higher prices for the same products than other countries. Even at half the cost, paying $300 elsewhere compared to $600 in the US can make all the difference to some people.


RE: good
By barclay on 12/7/2007 12:30:56 AM , Rating: 3
>"paying $300 elsewhere compared to $600 in the US can make all the difference to some people."

There is on average a 1-2 year lag time between when new medications become available in the US and when they are released (if ever) in other OECD countries.

1 to 2 years can make all the difference to some people.


RE: good
By rcc on 12/7/2007 12:20:15 PM , Rating: 2
Another example of the World wanting the benefits, but not wanting to pony up a share of the costs.


RE: good
By omnicronx on 12/7/07, Rating: -1
RE: good
By rcc on 12/7/2007 2:09:59 PM , Rating: 3
Nice. Out in left field. But a nice concisely written, educated response.

Indeed, personally I eat about one cheese burger a year, whether I need to or not. I do it specifically so I will have a requirement for drugs that I can then holler at you moochers about.

Was that the response you wanted? Or was their some underlying quality to your post that I missed?


RE: good
By Strunf on 12/8/2007 9:24:30 AM , Rating: 2
And with all that they still make billions of profit...


RE: good
By clovell on 12/8/2007 10:38:37 AM , Rating: 3
Because they invest billions.


RE: good
By clovell on 12/7/2007 10:56:26 AM , Rating: 2
I work for a drug company that is not mentioned in the article.


RE: good
By Kenenniah on 12/7/2007 12:24:12 PM , Rating: 2
Did YOU read the article?
"Is it any wonder how profits for said drug company is going to fall 44% (billion of dollars) because of one drug?"

The artice says revenue, not profits which is a giant difference. A company can rake in billions of revenue and still make no profit. Of course I'm not saying the companies aren't making money, but you can't base your feelings of them overcharging on revenue alone.


RE: good
By ChristopherO on 12/6/2007 7:47:31 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I am also sure that drug companies would share their newly found profits with all americans


They do. It's called dividends. You need to own stock.

As for expensive drugs, I'd rather pay high prices and have a chance of living, than live in some country with socialized medicine where the government dictates what treatments you are allowed to have. If the US system were like the UK, nothing new would ever get invented. That's also the reason most of the world's drug companies are headquartered here. It's one of the last places where they can invent new medications and still make money.


RE: good
By omnicronx on 12/6/2007 9:09:30 PM , Rating: 4
Oh you know what i forgot, nothing was invented until the mighty U S OF A came along. Lincoln invented the wheel right?
quote:
That's also the reason most of the world's drug companies are headquartered here.
Headquarters are located in the states for one reason, drug prices are unregulated. It's not too hard to make billions of dollars and take over pretty much any company you want when you can charge 50 times more than companies from other countries.
quote:
It's one of the last places where they can invent new medications and still make money.
And the last 'big' drug that actually cured something came out when? Heres a list of the top 5 selling drugs in the united tates(Lipitor, plavex, nexium, advair, zocor). All have come out within the last 15 years, and all of them could be considered unneeded if the patient just had a healthy diet and did some exercising.

Great new medicines! I just never knew erectile dysfunction was a terminal illness.


RE: good
By ChristopherO on 12/6/2007 11:08:04 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Headquarters are located in the states for one reason, drug prices are unregulated.


This is a good thing. No one is going to bother inventing anything if they aren't going to make money doing it. What should we do, pass price controls, and then send government agents to drug companies and use coercion to force workers to invent new medications?

Drug companies make a lot of money, they pay well, they pay their shareholders well. Contrary to popular opinion there are lots of ways to acquire cheap medications in this country. Most of the major drug companies have a means to offer discounted product to those in need. Obviously if you have money, you aren't going to be offered a break.

Lawyers also have a huge negative impact on drug prices. You can release something, improve hundreds of thousands of lives, ruin a handful, and you end up with billions of dollars of legal fees (see Vioxx).

quote:
Oh you know what i forgot, nothing was invented until the mighty U S OF A came along.


Phones, computers, electricity, cars, airplanes, most medications, television, radio, light, speakers, cell phones, fuel cells, pop can tops, suspended ceilings, frozen concentrated orange juice, and on and on were all invented here. I'm not saying other countries don't contribute, but we certainly lead the way in improving all facets of modern life.


RE: good
By omnicronx on 12/6/2007 11:19:43 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
This is a good thing. No one is going to bother inventing anything if they aren't going to make money doing it. What should we do, pass price controls, and then send government agents to drug companies and use coercion to force workers to invent new medications?
I could care less about new medications, I live in Canada. I look at drug our Canadian drug prices and laugh in comparison to what you pay. Really in the end i do not care, I am just pointing out you are getting ripped off, if thats fine with you then so be it.

I would also like to point out Canadian drug companies do quite well, even with regulated prices.


RE: good
By shocker38 on 12/7/2007 5:55:34 AM , Rating: 4
Im not going to have a go here but please for the love of god you did not invent the televison (John Logie Baird British), telephone (Alexander Graham Bell Though this is not confirmed), radio (Edward Hughes was British), electricity (William Gilbert British). America did not invent every thing and belive me there are other countires out there beyond your own borders of country and mind.


RE: good
By ChristopherO on 12/7/2007 1:55:45 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not saying foreign individuals didn't invent anything, however those individuals, when they invented something were in the US. Bell for instance... All his early telephone trials were here. Companies bearing his name, started here.

Modern electricity was Tesla. Foreign again, but alas, he was here.

The thing about the US, is that almost everyone here is fundamentally foreign. A "native" American is a tiny fraction of the population.


RE: good
By TITAN1080 on 12/7/07, Rating: 0
RE: good
By Drexial on 12/7/2007 12:11:10 PM , Rating: 3
aalot of those inventions were made by people that learned from other countries, but came here cause their country was blown up by bombs...

Car: France (Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot) or Germany (Germany for the first to use an internal combustion engine, Karl Benz) (china made a steam powered one in the 1600s)

Electricity: There was a battery discovered to be from 200 BC. But as electricity as we know it today there were a mix of people responsible a few of them American.

Pop cans: Originally just a standard food can which was invented by the French (Nicolas François Appert), the pull tab was later invented by a Canadian (Mikolaj Kondakow).

Computer: the first programmable computer was designed by the French (Joseph Marie Jacquard)

Airplane: The first glider and the 'inventor' of aerodynamic was British (George Cayley). Adding a motor to it isn't really invention, it may be innovation. But thats not what this list is about.

Fuel Cell: German-Swiss Scientist (Christian Friedrich Schönbein)

Light: The first incandescent light was not Edison or Swan it was British chemist Humphry Davy.

Telephone: There are 4 people listed as the inventors of the telephone: Antonio Meucci (Italian), Johann Philipp Reis (German), Elisha Gray (America), then there is Alexander Graham Bell, who did not move to the US until he was almost 30. All his education occurred in Scotland. So while he lived in the US he just happened to be here when it happened.

Television: The first concept of the modern television was described by Alan Archibald Campbell-Swinton, a Scottish electrical engineer. He came up with the idea of using cathode-ray tubes

Medicine: Edward Jenner (England) - Vaccination, Alexander Fleming (Scottish) - Penicillin, Charles Frederic Gerhardt (French) Aspirin.... ok i think thats enough for now, I've done enough searching with all these.

American inventions in that list Cellphone, Radio, Concentrated Orange Juice

Sorry I couldn't find anything on Drop Ceilings.

But I think the point is proven.


RE: good
By masher2 (blog) on 12/7/2007 12:21:21 PM , Rating: 2
> "aalot of those inventions were made by people that learned from other countries, but came here cause their country was blown up by bombs..."

Or they came because their country didn't offer an economic climate which allowed them to develop and exploit their idea.

Both of which goes to prove the point that a stable environment conducive to business is truly the mother of all invention.


RE: good
By Drexial on 12/7/2007 1:04:57 PM , Rating: 2
pretty sure thats, necessity is the mother of all invention.

I'm pretty sure instability is why things are invented, they are seen as solutions to problems, so if it was a stable environment, there would be no reason to invent.


RE: good
By masher2 (blog) on 12/7/2007 1:09:19 PM , Rating: 2
> " it was a stable environment, there would be no reason to invent. "

Ah, that explains why nations like Rwanda, Nigeria, and Haiti are the source of so much high-tech development.


RE: good
By Drexial on 12/7/2007 1:55:34 PM , Rating: 2
Thats a fairly ignorant statement. First off you limit it to technical invention, not every invention has to do with technology. Secondly the types of innovations that happen in nation in conflict are geared towards the problems they have. Tactical innovations are the biggest here. Inventing different strategies, political inventions.

inventing a flying car that used magnetic fields isn't too high on their list.

As another point I didn't say all instability resulted in invention, I just said that without instability there would be no invention.


RE: good
By masher2 (blog) on 12/7/2007 2:04:59 PM , Rating: 2
> "First off you limit it to technical invention, not every invention has to do with technology"

Technology is the application of invention to practical use. Inventions that serve no practical purpose have nothing to do with technology, agreed.

> "I just said that without instability there would be no invention."

Political and economic instability is not a prerequisite to innovation. Except in certain rare case, it's a hindrance, which explains why stable climates like the USA produce the majority of the world's technology.


RE: good
By ChristopherO on 12/7/2007 2:27:27 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
But I think the point is proven.

Not at all. Nitpick whatever you want about my statement. You're just trying to find prior-art by someone else (*anyone* else) so you can say you are correct. The difference between your list, is that those concepts never went anywhere, and my list, is that American inventors (pretty much all of which were foreign and moved here -- we're a country of immigrants) figured out how to take their idea and turn it into something that everyone on the planet can use.

A clay-pot battery from 200BC discovered in the Tigris-Euphrates river valley is not exactly a working model of electricity distribution.

As for pop cans, I was thinking of Ermal Fraze. Their family has their name on a lot of things. It's that crazy capitalism thing again... Come to the US, bring your ideas, and get rich. Darn them! Good motivation though. Why would I want to get rich in a country that took more than half my income in taxes?

If you break down all the modern drugs, an overwhelming majority are from here. I'm pretty certain you could find at least one invented in every single country if you tried. Tamiflu for instance, happens to be from Roche, which isn't a domestic company. Roche has done a lot of good. However, our domestic pharmaceutical industry is many times larger than every other pharma company from the rest of the world, combined.

My key statement:
quote:
but we certainly lead the way in improving all facets of modern life.

My list was practical, since with your list, you have no proof that you would have working electricity and be arguing with someone while sitting in front of a PC.

In a manner of speaking, one could listen to Plato. Every great idea has already been had by someone else, every invention from this point forward, can probably, if one tried really hard, be ascribed to some prior work. That doesn't mean the two are fundamentally related. After all, you can have only one winner, and everyone else loses. No matter how you look at it, one man or woman still changes the world.


RE: good
By masher2 (blog) on 12/6/2007 11:23:14 PM , Rating: 2
> "Headquarters are located in the states for one reason, drug prices are unregulated"

Oops, you seem to have forgotten that regardless of where "headquarters" is, a company can still sell drugs in the US. In fact, 5 of the 10 largest Pharma companies are NOT headquartered in the US.

> "all of them could be considered unneeded if the patient just had a healthy diet and did some exercising."

So now its the drug companies fault that people don't exercise and eat right?

> "Great new medicines! I just never knew erectile dysfunction was a terminal illness. "

So, if you don't want to buy any of these drugs, no one is making you.


RE: good
By omnicronx on 12/6/2007 11:47:46 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
"Headquarters are located in the states for one reason, drug prices are unregulated"
Doesn't matter where they are located, you still pay the same prices as you would for American made drugs.
quote:
So now its the drug companies fault that people don't exercise and eat right?
No its not, that was not my point. My point was that drug companies, as any profitable company would try to do is try to make money. Products such as lipitor are cash cows, so companies would rather put money into these sorts of drugs.

In the end the argument could go on forever and i was just pointing out to the previous poster what kind of 'new medications' have been recently invented. regulating prices will probably not change anything in the advancement of drugs, it would just lower prices.
quote:
So, if you don't want to buy any of these drugs, no one is making you.
I won't, as the post above describes, I am Canadian and I could not care less if Americans pay more than everyone else.


RE: good
By barclay on 12/7/2007 12:37:08 AM , Rating: 2
>"regulating prices will probably not change anything in the advancement of drugs"

This is completely untrue. See my post below.

http://www.ita.doc.gov/td/health/phRMA/PhRMA%20-%2...


RE: good
By ChristopherO on 12/7/2007 2:41:12 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Doesn't matter where they are located, you still pay the same prices as you would for American made drugs.

You still miss the fundamental point. Unless we pay those prices, the companies, foreign or domestic, have no incentive to invent new ones. We subsidize worldwide R&D. You're living longer because we're footing the bill.

As a result, socializing *our* medical industry should scare the rest of the world. Assuming everyone likes living longer and having an opportunity to see experimental treatments. The rest of the world needs to pitch-in and stop being moochers when it comes to medication. If that were the case, perhaps they wouldn't *need* to gouge the American consumer, since they would have a reasonable chance of profiting elsewhere.


RE: good
By protosv on 12/7/2007 3:07:28 AM , Rating: 5
As a medical student currently taking a cardiovascular pathology course, I can definitely say that those top 5 drugs are ABSOLUTELY needed, not just "lifestyle" drugs like viagra and cialis.

Lipitor and Zocor belong to a class of drugs called statins, which not only lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attack, but also save the healthcare system tens of millions of dollars a year in coronary patients they don't have to treat. Also, you're incorrect about your statement regarding diet and exercise affecting cholesterol. While diet and exercise help lower cholesterol, the people who are taking these two drugs probably have genetically high cholesterol, and both proper diet and exercise will have a minimal effect for these patients.

Advair is an asthma drug, and if you know anyone who has a severe case of asthma, they can tell you that a severe attack literally chokes them, and they depend on their inhaler to keep them breathing.

Plavix is an anticoagulant drug, that helps thin the blood and prevent clots from forming. This is extremely important in patients who have had previous heart attacks, or who are at risk for heart attacks.

Even nexium (which I take), I wouldn't consider a lifestyle drug. This is for acid reflux, which is more than just an uncomfortable condition that can make eating food painful. Acid reflux increases your risk for cancer of the stomach and esophagus, which is a very severe form of cancer that is difficult to treat. So you might consider this a drug that prevents a severe condition.

Sorry for the whole science lesson, but I just wanted to point out that none of these top 5 drugs are "lifestyle" drugs, and ALL of them are involved directly or indirectly at preventing life-threatening conditions.


RE: good
By tedrodai on 12/10/2007 11:51:52 AM , Rating: 2
Thanks for that post. I hadn't checked the site since Thursday, but I'm glad someone brought this up in response to omnicronx's 'top 5 drugs' comment. His allusion about those drugs being for fat lazy people (essentially) who want a big red easy button really pissed me off.

I happen to know someone very well who, without steriod medicines for asthma like Advair, would never have made it to adulthood. I ran track with this person in high-school, and she qualified for the state meet in every event in which she participated (in track rather than field events), and helped her team earn runner-up two years in a row. Now, at 24 years old, she still has asthma despite regular excercise--and she will always need her inhaler nearby.

Also, she currently takes nexium or prevacid regularly, thanks to being a med student. This has nothing to do with an unhealthy diet (she's not far removed from being a health nut), and everything to do with work-related stress, as I'm sure protosv can attest to. Say what you will about doctor's salaries (a conversation with a different can of worms), but they work their asses off to get there and are constantly under an extreme amount of stress, which often causes acid reflux. Her diet is pretty much devoid of anything that will cause reflux in a normal person, because her body does it well enough by itself.

This woman, who is also my wife, is but one example among millions of different cases. So omni, take your ill-considered generalizations elsewhere.


RE: good
By Pneumothorax on 12/7/2007 9:32:37 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
(Lipitor, plavex, nexium, advair, zocor). All have come out within the last 15 years, and all of them could be considered unneeded if the patient just had a healthy diet and did some exercising.

Wow just wow. You need to do some research yourself. Vast majority of high cholesterol cases are from genetics as >80% of cholesterol comes from the liver. I have "Vegans"/rabid excercisers in my practice who have over 300+ cholesterol and their primary relatives have had heart attacks at <50 years old. Hmm what would they do without cholesterol meds? Should they just accept their fate and let things "lie?" Honestly, someone up there mentioned us docs "pushing" expensive drugs. I work in economically disadvantaged area and "push" for generics. In fact, it's the patients who're asking for the expensive brand names they see on tv lol. I believe pharma is a necessary evil as companies don't develop new things unless they're making money. What would you have doing the R&D? The government?! lol They would waste over 50% of R&D dollars as the government is accountable to no profit at all and oversight. Humanity is just too selfish for socialism to work well.


RE: good
By oab on 12/7/2007 10:49:30 AM , Rating: 2
"what would they do without cholesterol meds?"

However, as doctor, I'm sure you have heard of this vitamin called Niacin. One of the B-like vitamins, known to reduce LDLs, and raise HDLs in doses starting at 1000mg. It's cheap($7 for 100 500mg tablets), available at any pharmacy in the vitamin section. It is also water-soluable (you pee it out after metabolising it). If assuming the cholesterol hypothesis is correct (there is not much evidence that it is not), therefore one could conclude that Niacin will reduce the risk of heart disease caused by "bad" cholesterol.

Side effects include flushing of the face (it dilates blood vessels), and itchy skin 20 after ingestion. These side effects diminish the longer you take it, and go away quickly. If you have a history of liver disease, talk to your doctor before taking niacin. Time-release niacin is also available that basically eliminates the flushing.

It is possible to overdose on niacin, and therefore consult your healthcare practitioner before taking it, ask what dose you should take, and

(I am legally required to postface this by saying that I am not a doctor, I do not know your medical history. Talk to your healthcare practitioner before taking anything, tell him/her all medications you are taking, including herbal and all natural. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA, etc. etc. etc.)


RE: good
By masher2 (blog) on 12/7/2007 10:57:42 AM , Rating: 2
> "as doctor, I'm sure you have heard of this vitamin called Niacin"

Niacin is pretty efficient at raising HDL, but does little to reduce LDL. Lipitor, on the other hand, can reduce LDL by 50% or more.

As for the conspiracy theory that only "profitable" drugs are pushed, my father's doctor has him on *both* Lipitor and niacin.


RE: good
By clovell on 12/7/2007 11:03:44 AM , Rating: 2
There's work being done on statin / niacin combo drugs.


RE: good
By Pneumothorax on 12/7/2007 4:33:09 PM , Rating: 2
Then I need to hire you for my clinic as spokesperson/coach I have about 10% compliance rate on niacin as most quit within the first month. And the previous poster is right, while it raises HDL, it doesn't really do much for the big bugaboo LDL.


RE: good
By clovell on 12/7/2007 4:50:03 PM , Rating: 3
Titrate the dosing regimen and use an extended-release formulation. Aspirin helps with flushing, too.


RE: good
By clovell on 12/7/2007 10:59:48 AM , Rating: 2
Dislipidemia is the largest pharmacuetical market in the world. Naturally, companies will make the most money off of dislipedemia drugs.

Don't forget that there are drug companies in the States that do at least half their business outside the States.


RE: good
By rcc on 12/7/2007 12:36:14 PM , Rating: 2
On behalf of asthma sufferers everywhere who have to work hard every day just to breathe, something most people take for granted, go pound sand.

The system's not perfect, however, having one country foot the bill while others skate gets a bit annoying.


RE: good
By Hare on 12/7/2007 12:39:41 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
with socialized medicine where the government dictates what treatments you are allowed to have.

Could you list a few of these countries? This is quite funny you know...


RE: good
By barclay on 12/7/2007 1:17:38 AM , Rating: 4
In the Canadian system, patients are given a limited number of government approved treatments to choose from for various conditions. There is a strong bias against new and/or expensive treatments.

Furthermore, in order to control costs, the government approves a specific number of "x" procedures for each year. Since demand often exceeds this amount, patients are placed on waiting lists. The wait times vary depending on the procedure, but it can be often measured in months or even years. This has many negative consequences on survivability and quality of life. Canada's wait times are a large reason their cancer survival rate is significantly lower than the US.

http://politicalcalculations.blogspot.com/2007/10/...

Also, Canadians cannot opt to pay for the procedure themselves to skip the wait time, as it is illegal for a doctor to accept private payment (although a 2005 court ruling struck this down for Quebec). This is the primary reason why sick Canadians often travel to the US and other countries seeking treatment.


RE: good
By masher2 (blog) on 12/7/2007 8:36:44 AM , Rating: 2
> "Could you list a few of these countries? This is quite funny you know... "

As far as I know, *every* nation with a socialized medicine program approves which treatments are allowed under the system.

If you believe socialized medicine is the answer, you might want to look at the British system. Even though healthcare is free for everyone, nearly 10% of the population (aka "those who can afford it") purchase private health insurance and visit private doctors. When I need surgery, my doctor schedules it and I get it within a day or two. An OECD survey reported that over 40% of Britons, though, reported waiting over 12 weeks for surgical treatment.


RE: good
By omnicronx on 12/7/2007 11:30:49 AM , Rating: 2
Masher your view is flawed. Your opinion means very little when you are obviously in the category of being 'well off'. You obviously can afford private health care with one hand tied behind your back, so of course you demand the best. It's just too bad you fall into an ever shrinking percentage of americans.

I believe mixed systems like briton's are perfect. Those willing to pay for private health care, get quite service but pay more. Those not willing or not able to pay for private health care, can wait a little longer for surguries, but can at least afford them. This way neither party can whine about their services, you get what you pay for. I would also like to add that if only 10% of britons use private health care, then you must imagine that the vast majority of people are happy with the current public health care system.

100% public health care is definatly not the answer for the united states, it barely works in Canada with a 10th of the population, therefore i would really doubt it would ever work in the US. That being said a regulated mixed system seems like the best answer..


RE: good
By masher2 (blog) on 12/7/2007 1:00:40 PM , Rating: 1
> "Masher your view is flawed. Your opinion means very little when you are obviously in the category of being 'well off'."

I realize that, to many people, anyone who earns more than the national average should lose their right to vote and have all their assets seized, but I still believe my opinion has at least as much merit as someone who flips burgers for a living. Or doesn't work at all.

Anyone in the US who stayed in school and got a decent education can afford health care. Hell, my Lexus salesman bragged to me he has only a 9th grade education, but makes $150K a year. Of course, he works long hours, rather than spending his life watching rap videos and whining about how poor he is.

Given I *already* pay some $10K a year towards the emergency healthcare of those who can't (or more often, won't) work, I really don't care to support a system that not only will vastly increase my costs, but reduce my chances of getting quality healthcare, as well as cripple the most productive medical research system on the planet.

Sorry, but...nothx.


RE: good
By omnicronx on 12/7/2007 1:52:11 PM , Rating: 2
Thanks mr upper middle class American, I realize now that the small percentage of Americans like you are the only ones that matter. What I am proposing is a mixed system to make both parties happy, what is it with this attitude that because you make more money, the current system is perfectly ok for everyone?


RE: good
By masher2 (blog) on 12/7/2007 2:07:37 PM , Rating: 2
> "What I am proposing is a mixed system to make both parties happy"

No. You're proposing a system whereby those of the first party have their property siezed and used to fulfill the needs of the second party. That doesn't make "both parties happy". Far from it.


RE: good
By TomZ on 12/7/2007 2:58:11 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
No. You're proposing a system whereby those of the first party have their property siezed and used to fulfill the needs of the second party. That doesn't make "both parties happy". Far from it.

Right on. Sounds like omni's advocating communism these days...to each according to his need and so forth.


RE: good
By clovell on 12/7/2007 2:39:10 PM , Rating: 2
I just want to add my two cents here.

People, you need health insurance. It needs to be one of the first things you pay for, after your mortgage / rent, food, and basic utilities (gas, water, electricity, and garbage disposal). The government already helps people who are in dire straits with these things, but they see it the same way - health insurance is a necessity of life - forget cable, forget credit cards, forget KFC for dinner, and forget your car - pay your $^*$%* health insurance bill.

Before you call the Wahhbulance, let me tell you a story. I worked up to three jobs at a time, clearing between 21~40k / year while finishing college and grad school - and I still made sure my family (which grew from 2 to 4) had health insurance. It wasn't cheap, but it's something you have to have.

Chances are, that if the government isn't already picking up the tab for your healthcare, then you can afford to buy your own. You may have to give up a lot - cable, car, KFC for dinner - but you need health insurance.


RE: good
By Ringold on 12/7/2007 2:45:38 PM , Rating: 2
If I weren't covered otherwise, I could get private insurance of respectable quality by simply forgoing my cell phone bill.

Of course, I'm in my 20s and not 300 pounds, but I don't have a very expensive cell phone bill either.


RE: good
By darkpaw on 12/7/2007 3:49:55 PM , Rating: 2
Yah, thats all well and good if you're what the insurance companies deem "healthy".

I've had genetic bone problems since I was a child, try getting some insurance then. Same for people with almost any condition that is permanent and not their fault like Type 1 diabetes.

I worked for a small company for years before I got a job with health insurance. The cheapest plan I could get in AZ that covered anything was $400/month and that was for 20 something and generally healthly other then a few issues dating to childhood. Even my current plan through work costs me a few hundred a month, with my employer picking up 75% of the tab and thats for a group plan that doesn't consider anything preexisting.

I definitely don't support fully paid for government healthcare, but there is a lot that needs to change in how insurance is sold. Having "tax credits" to buy insurance isn't going to help either. Most people are not going to have $400/month to put aside for insurance until tax time.


RE: good
By Pneumothorax on 12/7/2007 4:41:59 PM , Rating: 2
AMEN to that. Obviously getting the latest sneakers, paying directtv bill, and smokes are much more important to the general public than paying for health insurance. Notwithstanding the TRULY disabled in society or those inflicted with REAL chronic illnesses, this is more of those who don't want to work or spend their money on something else. Wanting "the have's" who work paying for it.


RE: good
By ATC on 12/6/2007 2:38:50 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
and outsourcing

I can just see the headlines now, "drug X recalled for lead contamination". That's all we need.


RE: good
By arazok on 12/6/2007 2:56:14 PM , Rating: 2
Patents for life with government price control is a horrible idea. It will just create another bureaucracy, and prices that are NEVER less then what the government mandates. I look at some Atlantic provinces in Canada where price controls are in effect for gasoline. Sure, the cost of gas never goes up....but it never goes down either.

A better idea is to provide patents for a number of years (50 at most), but the inventor must allow generics immediately. The generic manufacturers would just have to pay royalties while the patent is in effect. 5-10% tops. The inventors get their costs back with profit, and the market/competition drives prices overall.


RE: good
By Oregonian2 on 12/6/2007 3:30:47 PM , Rating: 2
It's more than making "profits" on the drugs that succeed. The system needs to fully fund research for new products as well as advanced research on methods that don't create short term products but only lead to products later on when the mechanisms and understanding discovered can be used. It's more than just a business. If microprocessors were stuck and we could only make what we have now, it'd be acceptable. If a bread company can only make the products they do now "forever" that'd be fine. Not so with medical companies. The tremendous amount of profits off the most profitable products don't go to paying dividends to the stockholders (AFAIK), nor to buying party supplies for the employees. It's money used for medical field investment. That investment money is an important cog in the system. Getting rid of it is good short term public bean-counter terms but perhaps not what is wanted in the long term view (for the companies or for the public).


RE: good
By Oregonian2 on 12/6/2007 5:57:37 PM , Rating: 2
P.S. - Their viagra patent expires in 2012. Not long off!


RE: good
By mindless1 on 12/7/2007 3:04:39 AM , Rating: 2
We could likewise say the profits from any product *need* to fund new research, but it isn't really true.

These companies made a start without these profits and can easily get by with less than their astronomical profits just as they did when they invented their cash cows.


RE: good
By masher2 (blog) on 12/7/2007 10:01:05 AM , Rating: 2
> "These companies made a start without these profits"

They did so because venture capitalists were convinced those profits were likely enough to take the extremely high risk involved. Remove the profits, and venture capital no longer invests in pharmaceutical companies.


RE: good
By TomZ on 12/7/2007 10:29:38 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
These companies made a start without these profits and can easily get by with less than their astronomical profits just as they did when they invented their cash cows.

Your parents obviously didn't teach you that money doesn't grow on trees. Exactly where do you think the money comes from for pharma R&D? It comes from investment - as Michael said - investment made by those who are expecting a return on that investment.


RE: good
By sinful on 12/7/2007 8:05:02 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Exactly where do you think the money comes from for pharma R&D? It comes from investment - as Michael said - investment made by those who are expecting a return on that investment.


I think there's a big problem in this thread that people don't understand exactly what profits are.

Profit is the money that is left over after ALL expenses are taken care of.
For example, if Pfizer spends $10 million on salaries, $10 million on R&D, and $10 million on other stuff, their EXPENSES are $30 Million. If in the course of business, they make $50 Million, their PROFIT is $20 Million.

Please note that R&D is already accounted for as part of their EXPENSES. Please also note CEO Salary is ALSO included in their expenses.

When a company turns a profit, that money *could* have been used for R&D, bigger salaries, etc - but it WASN'T.

In other words, their "profit" is another way of saying "bonus".

Thus, the resulting question is really what is a "reasonable" bonus for these companies for what they do.
And it *is* a question that can be asked.

i.e. consider this: If the paper delivery kid comes around, and for the holidays I give him $10, is that reasonable? What if I gave him $100,000?
Now, you might say "I don't care what you do!", but what if you're my customer, and I charge you for using my products?
Wouldn't that imply that I've overcharged you an unreasonable amount, if I can give out unreasonable bonuses? What's it mean if my products are required for you to live? Has an ethical boundry been crossed?

In other words, if a company has "unreasonably" high bonuses, it's implied that people are being overcharged.
In other words, profits are the "extra" reward companies get - and while it's obvious that in an investor-based system there should be "extra rewards", you also have to stop and consider at what point the "reward" is excessive and exploitation taking place, and the ethics (or lack of) that were used to arrive at that conclusion.


RE: good
By Oregonian2 on 12/7/2007 9:34:37 PM , Rating: 2
Uh... no... not unless it's a company that takes profits and pays dividends with it. Otherwise the money either gets put aside for future spending (or a "rainy day fund") or will finance next year's investments. It doesn't get divided up and have the fat cats just take it home. Nor do the owners get it (unless through dividends or stock buy backs).

Another way of looking at it is that the R&D reported is the portion of the PREVIOUS year's profit that was spent in the last year for R&D purposes (would have been profit had R&D not spent it). If the profits were much lower the previous year, the R&D would have likely been cut too (because it's one of the easiest to cut back on when something has to be cut ... it doesn't affect short term revenues).

When there are net profits, that's money that can be in the next year's budget to get spent. Reporting is year by year, but money earned in a previous year is allowed to be spent in a future year.

Just think: where do those dollars of profit go to? It's owned by the company. Owners don't get it unless there's dividends. It's money that gets invested by the company in future operations. It doesn't have to be R&D, it may be new manufacturing expansion, new buildings, buying a startup company to get their products, it might pay off previous debts or sometimes buy its own stock. Whatever. It's money that's used by the company to further their pharmaceuticals business. They usually can't just "bank" the money to an excess because companies with too much cash tend to be targets for takeover (where the cash will be gutted).

Main point is, that without the profit stream, the R&D will be among the hardest hit because it doesn't affect short term revenue, and the bean counters and stock market watchers are very short term creatures.


RE: good
By TomZ on 12/8/2007 2:01:46 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
In other words, if a company has "unreasonably" high bonuses, it's implied that people are being overcharged.

I don't know where you got your notion of "reasonable profit," but the very idea is nonsense. And that's not how a free market works. The way it really works is that prices are set by the value of the product or service to the consumer, not directly based on the cost plus a "reasonable" markup.

So that means, for example, if I produce a widget that is worth $100 to you, then you'll pay the same $100 for it, regardless of whether it cost me $99 or even $1 to produce. Obviously if it cost me $1 to produce, then odds are that some other sellers will enter the market and sell a similar widget for less than me, and I will lose marketshare. That's just the nature of the market.


RE: good
By fic2 on 12/6/2007 2:59:05 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The fact is that drug research is extremely expensive. Not only do you spend years just paying scientists just to develop the drugs, you have to spend millions if not tens or hundreds of millions to get the drug approved for sale.


You forgot the 2x the spend on marketing. From: http://www.carlmcmillan.com/drug_profits_vs.htm


RE: good
By Amiga500 on 12/6/2007 3:13:34 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly...

You want the place to start streamlining? How about trimming the grotesquely fat salaries of the c_nts at the top...


RE: good
By Oregonian2 on 12/6/2007 3:34:36 PM , Rating: 1
If those "fat cats" were to work for free, do you think that it would make even the least significant digit in their annual reports change at all? I doubt it.


RE: good
By Amiga500 on 12/6/2007 3:54:00 PM , Rating: 5
NEW YORK - Pfizer Inc.'s former chief executive, Henry A. McKinnell, who was forced into an early retirement in part because of investor anger about his rich retirement benefits, will get every penny of it and more, a new regulatory filing shows.

McKinnell's package, which the company disclosed in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission Thursday, totals more than $180 million. It includes an estimated $82.3 million in pension benefits, $77.9 million in deferred compensation, and cash and stock totaling more than $20.7 million.

The total value could grow to almost $200 million if McKinnell gets a $18.3 million stock award, but that is contingent on the future performance of the stock of the world's largest drugmaker.


How many people would that pay for 5 years work?


RE: good
By Ringold on 12/6/07, Rating: 0
RE: good
By wrekd on 12/6/2007 7:48:47 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
If you could do a so much better job, or if most of us could do a better job, why are you posting here instead of working day and night as an executive yourself? Oh, that's right. You don't have what it takes (neither do I).


Please define "better" in the sense that you are using it in. By better do you mean using greed and underhanded tactics to insure market dominance? Do you mean lobbying congress better so that people can't go to Mexico or Canada?

What they do is not hard...at all. They screw people over. Friends, co-workers, subordinates and their customers. The only thing that's hard about being on top is getting there.


RE: good
By Ringold on 12/7/2007 2:43:04 PM , Rating: 2
By better I mean create value for shareholders -- such as the nameless vast majority of CEO's who live on in obscurity in the public mind because they're busy working rather then drawing attention to themselves.

If it were really as easy as you think, there wouldn't be executive placement firms, firms wouldn't go months without leadership, nor would certain rising star executives with proven track records of success get multiple offers any time they turn around. If it were really that easy, and really purely political, the next guy in line from inside the firm would simply step up take the reigns. In reality, if I'm not mistaken, the majority of the time that's not what happens, nor is it what happens when family businesses hunt executives to take over for the family.

I'd guess that for every Bob "I destroyed Home Depot and all I got was $200 million and this lousy T-shirt!" Nardelli there must be a dozen John Chambers; Wall Street couldn't operate and have consistent earnings growth otherwise. Of course, left-wingers interested in implementing severe ceilings on wealth don't want to talk about how a Chambers or even a Michael Dell can create value and turn around flagging businesses, no, they just want to talk about the occasional failure -- as if that doesn't happen on a smaller scale everywhere else in life.


RE: good
By mindless1 on 12/7/07, Rating: -1
RE: good
By FITCamaro on 12/7/2007 9:50:05 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Should people in sports cars be allowed to drive 120MPH on the freeway but everyone else can't?


That would be wonderful.


RE: good
By porkpie on 12/7/2007 10:03:28 AM , Rating: 2
Camaros aren't sports cars. :p


RE: good
By FITCamaro on 12/7/2007 11:11:35 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah they're muscle cars and go a lot faster than many cars people have designated as sports cars.


RE: good
By porkpie on 12/7/2007 11:20:43 AM , Rating: 2
Until you have to turn, that is.


RE: good
By ChronoReverse on 12/7/2007 3:04:48 PM , Rating: 2
You still go fast... in the same direction you had been going anyways.


RE: good
By Ringold on 12/7/2007 2:36:22 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
just tax the hell out of 'em till that equalizes things.


Socialist quote of the month.

I don't often bother to fight religion; this is a religious ideology, pure and simple, so won't bother here either.


RE: good
By Oregonian2 on 12/6/2007 5:56:44 PM , Rating: 2
Note too that they're totaling things that are probably payable over many years into a single total. Things like pensions are usually paid monthly until one dies, so they're assuming some period before death and then totaling it. The per month/year may not look so impressive. Also things from stock are costs, they really don't take cash out of the profits to pay for it (other than perhaps technically in accounting where it's maybe purchased from themselves). So the per-year actual out of pocket expense for the company will be a lot lower than those numbers might suggest.

Their 2006 annual report showed earnings of 13,028 (for continuing operations) on revenue of 48,371 (all in millions). Healthy 27% profit off of continuing operations (ups to about 19 Billion when all things are added in, mostly canceled things).

So, I'm surprised they give that fine a resolution in their figures, so I'll take it back about not showing up in the annual report stats. But the annual expenses for the retired guy will probably be still on the order of under 0.1% of the profits.


RE: good
By TSS on 12/6/2007 6:24:43 PM , Rating: 2
suppose this guy lives another 60 years, or 720 months. he'd get paid about 277,777 dollars a month, if the total amount was paid out monthly over the next 60 years.

that's a heck of a lot of money. i wonder how many artificially-inflated-prize medication he can buy of that in his old age.


RE: good
By masher2 (blog) on 12/6/2007 11:28:46 PM , Rating: 2
> "How many people would that pay for 5 years work?"

KcKinnel was CEO for a bit over 5 years. A $200M exit package works out to $40M per year. Considering Pfizer is doing over 1000X that some in annual revenues, that doesn't terribly out of line.

The fact is, corporate salaries are decided (and paid) by the owners of the company. If you don't like the amount, buy a controlling stock in Pfizer and set a new rate for the next guy.


^o^ Yay!
By gradoman on 12/6/2007 2:46:52 PM , Rating: 2
Cost-cutting + Profits > saving lives! Okay, nothing wrong with making money, but damn, it sounds pretty bad when I think we all know they make big dollars and poor people can't afford the drug they need to, er, live...

Dollars mean that much more that:
quote:
Drug companies have spent millions lobbying congress to prevent the importation of drugs from Canada, not because of safety concerns but because of profit loss.


So, maybe you won't be able to find a job after all is said and done because of outsourcing and you won't be able to get yourself cheap drugs because it'll be illegal to go get 'em across the border. And you'll die. Although, maybe, we'll have mutated, drug-resistant variants of viruses and bacteria kill us before that happens!




RE: ^o^ Yay!
By steven975 on 12/6/07, Rating: 0
RE: ^o^ Yay!
By DigitalFreak on 12/6/2007 3:35:38 PM , Rating: 3
Are you going to post the same response to every comment?


RE: ^o^ Yay!
By omnicronx on 12/6/2007 4:04:11 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Many things can't be cured by a pill. I've got vital organs that are destroyed and am only here due to the medications that have been developed in recent years.

Actually many things could 'potentially' be fully treated, but where is the money in that? Pharmaceutical companies are not looking for a miracle drug that cures all. The ideal drug is something that temporarily cure but they can charge up the wazoo for. For example: Insulin, it's a drug company cash cow, and if diabetes was ever cured it would severely cut into profits. There is no incentive to cure for something when it will take away from your existing profits/sales.

P.S I am not paranoid nor 'against' the government, I just work for a canadian drug company and this is the way I see it.


RE: ^o^ Yay!
By clovell on 12/6/2007 4:36:20 PM , Rating: 3
There is incentive for pharma companies to improve their existing products - patent protection extensions.


RE: ^o^ Yay!
By Ringold on 12/6/2007 4:52:19 PM , Rating: 1
If that were true, why is anybody researching things like stem cells at all? My god, that might cut down on the skin graft business!

Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that it wasn't too long ago when we didn't even know what 'bacteria' was, and now you expect miracle cures?


RE: ^o^ Yay!
By omnicronx on 12/6/2007 5:28:35 PM , Rating: 3
Ha, nice try
I'd like you to name me one drug company that has done extensive stem cell research, you may find one. Most stem cell research in the united states is either privately funded, or done at universities/colleges.(which in a way is still partially privately funded)

I never said I expect miracle cures either, all i said is that there is no incentive for drug companies to create drugs that cure diseases. If you don't believe me, go look it up yourself, drug companies make the most money off illness's/diseases that require recurring treatments.
So if you were a company exec, what would you choose to be your main priority, saving the world, or making money?


RE: ^o^ Yay!
By masher2 (blog) on 12/7/2007 8:59:29 AM , Rating: 2
> "I'd like you to name me one drug company that has done extensive stem cell research"

Pfizer, Glaxo Smith-Kline, AstraZeneca, Eli Lilly, Merck all perform large amounts of stem cell research. As far as I know, the rest do also.

> "If you don't believe me, go look it up yourself, drug companies make the most money off illness's/diseases that require recurring treatments."

This is getting sillier and siller. Do you think you can rebuild a failing liver, the structure of a heart valve, or re-engineer the DNA of a person to eradicate a genetic defect...all with a PILL? We don't have that technology yet, and we may never. With a stem cell injection possibly, a tailored virus, or perhaps nanobots. One day.

Simply because we've have reasonably good luck with infectious diseases (bacterially-caused ones, at least), you feel the need to invent conspiracy theories as to why we can't cure everything under the sun?

If a medical condition causes the body to produce too much or not enough of some certain chemical, we can potentially mitigate that with a drug. Quite obviously, that will require continuous, lifelong, administration. As for correcting the underlying condition itself in handy-dandy pill form-- sorry pal, that ain't gonna happen. Not until biotechnology is considerably more advanced.


RE: ^o^ Yay!
By omnicronx on 12/7/2007 11:54:15 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Pfizer, Glaxo Smith-Kline, AstraZeneca, Eli Lilly, Merck all perform large amounts of stem cell research. As far as I know, the rest do also.
Masher you argue for the sake of arguing. I know for a fact that in the united States, the vast majority of stem cell research is being done in University laboratories which have very limited funding. Although Pharmaceutical companies are doing some small research into stem cells, they are not investing large amounts of money into it, and are essentially watching the progress of stem cell research.

Theres no money to be made yet, I do not know why this would surprise you. If you would like to show me some valid proof I would be happy to see it. Medical journals and internet sites seem to agree with me, so I do not know where you are getting your information from.

quote:
Simply because we've have reasonably good luck with infectious diseases (bacterially-caused ones, at least), you feel the need to invent conspiracy theories as to why we can't cure everything under the sun?
You are twisting my words around, all i was pointing out to the OP, was that drug companies are not actively seeking drugs that actually cure things. I am not saying these exists, and I am not making up any conspiracy stories. But the drugs released in the past 15 years, accompanied with the current top selling drugs, shows the obvious, drug companies want to make money, and by doing so would rather invest lots of money into drugs that Americans want but don't really need. Not eating Macdonald's 5 times a week works just as well as Lipitor.

p.s I dont really blame them, in an unregulated system, making as much money as possible should be your number 1 priorety, I was just pointing out that if there were such possible 'new' treatments for real ailments, drug companies would rather put the time and money into a product that they can sell to the masses.


RE: ^o^ Yay!
By masher2 (blog) on 12/7/2007 12:40:34 PM , Rating: 2
> "the vast majority of stem cell research is being done in University laboratories which have very limited funding"

Surely you realize the difference between basic and applied research. Stem cell research is, at present, basic research. In every scientific field, the academic sector conducts the majority of basic research. Once practical applications begin to show up, research shifts to the private sector. This isn't unique to the medical field.

Furthermore, you're ignoring entirely that stem cell research is highly controversial in certain circles. Large corporations don't like bad publicity and boycotts...and there are quite a few groups that consider embryonic stem cell research unethical, and would leap to label a large pharmaceutical giant appropriately. Look on the web site of all the giant firms, you'll see every one has a mission statement somewhere to "reassure" the public they're "acting responsibly and proceeding cautiously" in respect to stem cell research.

Now that hESC research appears poised to take a backdoor to induced pluripotency, I expect the giant firms to express more interest. However, the fact remains that pretty much all of time are already doing research in the field.

> "all i was pointing out [was] that drug companies are not actively seeking drugs that actually cure things"

A statement which has already been proven false. Any drug company in the world would leap at a cure for AIDs, heart disease, or any other major illness. The fact remains that dispensing such miracle cures in pill form is currently beyond our technology.


RE: ^o^ Yay!
By Moishe on 12/6/2007 4:04:43 PM , Rating: 2
I reject the idea that everyone is entitled to live and have the drugs they "need".

When did this become a basic human right?

We may live longer, we may live in more comfort, but nobody is obligated to do us favors by giving stuff away, or even by being "nice". This thinking is purely socialist in that the little guy gets to determine how to fleece the big guy to make his own little life easier. (and it's OK, cuz the "big" anything is eviiil.)

Based on this logic I am entitled to have what's yours because I'm sick and you're not. The guy who is more sick than I is entitled to have what's mine, and so on. Is this entitlement only good in the U.S.A.? What about all the poor and/or sick people in Ethiopia? What makes anyone better than anyone else?

Inequality and injustice are simply facts of life. We cannot help or save everyone. Everyone knows that the more you restrict freedom to make a profit the fewer people will even try and the costs will go up accordingly (fewer manufacturers and higher entrance fees). Money and drugs do not magically appear out of thin air. Any "free" or reduced price drug ultimately comes out of the pocket of the little guy who is paying taxes.


RE: ^o^ Yay!
By Ringold on 12/6/2007 4:55:34 PM , Rating: 2
Next thing after universal health care, Moishe, will be heavy government involvement in housing; everyone will be entitled to at least some sort of condominium. The aftermath of the recent irresponsibility in choosing mortgage products will speed this along.

Just wait. That, along with universal broadband and the means to access it, are just around the pike; certain candidates have already mentioned it. In fact, I bet those avalanches start to rumble at the same time the nanotech hazard frenzy really picks up steam.


RE: ^o^ Yay!
By omnicronx on 12/6/2007 5:11:30 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I reject the idea that everyone is entitled to live and have the drugs they "need".
So what drug company do you work for?? Nobody ever said it was a right, but amazingly it is human nature to stay alive.
quote:
Inequality and injustice are simply facts of life. We cannot help or save everyone.
Once again, nobody said that, but charging 10, 50, and even 1000 times more for a drug than it costs to produce (even after RD&D) is not a fact of life, its a simply travesty and a perfect example of why your system is flawed.

Private health care in the united states not only allows for hospitals to charge what they want, but also essentially allows drug companies to charge what they want. As the article states, prices in canada are fixed and are set by the government at a price they consider 'fair'. Mainly for the reason that the government has to pay for most of the drugs that are distributed. Yet amazingly the canadian drug market is bigger than ever, and shows no sign of slowing down.
quote:
Any "free" or reduced price drug ultimately comes out of the pocket of the little guy who is paying taxes.
Here you simply don't know what you are talking about. I work for a drug company, I go through FDB(federal drug database) files, and I know exactly how much it costs the drug company to make the drug (legally in canada they must provide the information) and how much they sell it for. So I really do not know why you would think that the 'little guy' would be left with the bill, as this problem only exists in the united states and is not a problem in other places where drug prices are regulated.

P.S please nobody reply with a rant about Medicare, as if drug prices were regulated, there would be no reason to believe that Medicare we be more costly for the government.(it would probably be less)


RE: ^o^ Yay!
By clovell on 12/6/2007 5:18:00 PM , Rating: 2
> Once again, nobody said that, but charging 10, 50, and even 1000 times more for a drug than it costs to produce (even after RD&D) is not a fact of life, its a simply travesty and a perfect example of why your system is flawed.

wtf? Where are you getting 1000x the cost of R&D? Do you know how long and how much goes into R&D? Do you know how many compounds fail in development without being submitted to regulatory agencies? Have you accounted for the costs to manufacture, transport, store, and market these drugs? Where the hell are you pulling these numbers from?


RE: ^o^ Yay!
By BMFPitt on 12/6/2007 5:34:13 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Where the hell are you pulling these numbers from?
From where his expensively R&Ded suppositories go?


RE: ^o^ Yay!
By omnicronx on 12/6/2007 5:41:16 PM , Rating: 3
As I said, I work for a drug company. Without going too deep, there are many products that were developed 20-30, even 80 years ago in which the cost is in the hundreds (or possibly thousands). So without the added costs of RD&D (which were long paid off years ago) for many drugs, sure costs to manufacturer transport and store, and even the active ingredients will cost you money, but nowhere near the cost they are charging. Just go ask someone who has to buy insulin on a regular basis, the drug was discovered in the 20's, yet prices are still through the roof. Why? Because millions of Americans have diabetes and can require injections daily making it a 'need' for many people. If this makes sense to you then you have a problem.

P.S I said 'even' for a reason, meaning it does happen, but you are right there are very few things that do cost that much money.


RE: ^o^ Yay!
By masher2 (blog) on 12/7/2007 9:15:21 AM , Rating: 2
> "insulin [was] discovered in the 20's, yet prices are still through the roof."

For someone who keeps reminding us you "work for a drug company", you know surprisingly little about the business. Insulin isn't a simple chemical; its a recombinant protein, with a chemical structure about as complex as your average car. We've only had the technology to synthesize it since the 1980s. Prior to that, pig and cow insulin was extracted and used...a process that was not only more expensive, but medically less desirable.

Even today, we are *still* issuing patents on insulin production methods, attempting to find ways to make it cheaper and easier to produce.


RE: ^o^ Yay!
By zammit on 12/6/2007 5:25:38 PM , Rating: 1
Are you kidding me!
You reject the idea that everyone is entitled to benefit from advanced medical procedures and medicine that could possibly save their lives?
This became a human right when logical and caring people realized, specifically Tommy Douglas (premier of Saskatchewan 1930's), that human life is not something that should have a price tag. As human beings should we not care that a little girl is dying of cancer, or the widow in the retirement home suffering from alzheimer's are unable to pay for there medication? No one is obligated to do this but that doesn't mean we shouldn't give a shit!
Also, how do you assume that because of socialist programs that were running a communist regime in other countries? What's mine is yours and what's yours is mine? is single handedly the most ignorant explanation of socialized health care I have ever heard.
Absolutely that inequality and injustice are a part of life, especially in the U.S., yet just because something is the way it is means you have no goals or morals to see that changed.
These pharmaceutical companies are out for one thing PROFIT!
You blame the system for people losing their jobs and hurting the economy yet you don't look to change that system you simply want it to stay the same so people can keep their jobs. Sorry to tell you but that's exactly the conformist attitude that they expect from you, read a book and educate yourself before you start slandering universal health care and the disadvantages of it. Enjoy your low taxes and the destruction of true democracy!


RE: ^o^ Yay!
By clovell on 12/6/2007 5:36:31 PM , Rating: 1
> These pharmaceutical companies are out for one thing PROFIT!

And you have what proof of this - I mean, other than it fitting nicely as justification for furthering your agenda of socialized medicine?


RE: ^o^ Yay!
By barclay on 12/7/2007 1:32:35 AM , Rating: 2
>"No one is obligated to do this"

Actually, that is exactly what government funded healthcare entails. Each taxpayer is obligated to pay--it is not voluntary.


RE: ^o^ Yay!
By zammit on 12/7/2007 4:46:56 AM , Rating: 2
"And you have what proof of this - I mean, other than it fitting nicely as justification for furthering your agenda of socialized medicine?"

I'm sorry do we need a small lesson on capitalism? Last time I checked corporations are in fact legally binded to put their stockholders and turning a profit first and foremost. So, no I don't have direct evidence posted on this site but it is a fact so you should just accept it.

"Actually, that is exactly what government funded healthcare entails. Each taxpayer is obligated to pay--it is not voluntary."

First off, thank you for explaining that paying your taxes is not optional.
Secondly, I was speaking of our moral obligation to care for others in need.


RE: ^o^ Yay!
By clovell on 12/7/2007 11:12:48 AM , Rating: 2
Okay, first - you're being a jerk. Second - you failed to proove your point. Obviously, all publicly-traded companies are out for profit. That doesn't mean that profit is the only thing that matters to them, contrary to your claim. It simply means that its at the top of the list.

On the other count, I generally find that most people who support socialized medicine are against legislating morals.


RE: ^o^ Yay!
By Ringold on 12/7/2007 8:13:11 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
are against legislating morals.


Only if it's not their morals.

If it is their morals, like the right to kill children in the womb, then it's perfectly okay.

If it is someone elses morals, like interrogating suspected terrorists, then it's a "neocon" conspiracy.


RE: ^o^ Yay!
By FITCamaro on 12/7/2007 8:20:21 AM , Rating: 2
Well said!

You are entitled to life. Not a long, full, happy, trouble free one. You earn that yourself. If you're born so that you can't have that, it is no ones responsibility to give it to you.


Americans are subsidizing world's pharma research
By trajan on 12/6/2007 4:49:18 PM , Rating: 3
One point a lot of Americans don't appreciate is that we are subsidizing the pharama research for the rest of the world. Regardless of excesses spent on marketing, pharma companies do need a certain (high) level of profit on each marketed drug to roll back into researching new meds. Since most nations fix the prices that drugs can be sold at, and since the U.S. does not, it leaves Big Pharma to gouge us to pay for drug development -- for drugs that all nations buy and use.

I don't love outrageous profit margins for big pharma, but I do want them to have plenty of capital available for research. But if I have to pay extra for today's drugs in order to fund tomorrow's new cures, I don't like the idea of the Canadians and other well developed nations free riding.




By Ringold on 12/6/2007 5:08:48 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly.

To shore that argument up..

From the article:

quote:
The fear for many is that the dropping profit margins will result in less research and development funding, leading to less new drugs being developed.


From a recent issue of the Economist on Indian biotech:

quote:
Prior to 2005 India's patent laws did not protect newly discovered compounds, only the process of making them. This had predictable results on the evolution of the industry. Discovery went unrewarded, so it went largely undone. Instead firms turned out cheap, generic knock-offs of other people's drugs. The industry ranks fourth in the world by volume; but only 13th by value. ... Few companies are prepared to take the deep risks that new drug research entails.


It's not just a fear, but a demonstrable fact, that low returns means nobody bothers to take the risk of undertaking research. Just as many freshman in college in a principles of microecon class could predict this outcome, they would also know that governments are inherently ill-equipped to manage the risk and costs involved in a lot of this research, and thus would be a poor candidate for replacing pharma & biotech profit-seeking entities.

Sure, Canadians get their goods cheap. So does a lot of Europe. TANSTAAFL reigns supreme, however; There aint no such thing as a free lunch. It does today, it will tomorrow, and until we invent a real "zero point energy module" such as in Stargate:Atlantis, it always will. There's no avoiding it; socialism can't avoid it, capitalism can't, bolcheviks can't; this is just a fact of life, and lieing to ourselves as a global society just makes it worse.


By barclay on 12/7/2007 12:21:48 AM , Rating: 2
It is estimated that price controls on drugs in the other OECD countries reduces potential R&D funding by up to $22 billion a year. At current averages, that would be 10 to 13 new drugs a year-- a 50% increase.

http://www.ita.doc.gov/td/health/phRMA/PhRMA%20-%2...

Government-mandated cheap meds have real costs in the length and quality of life of billions of people.


By Ringold on 12/7/2007 2:54:03 PM , Rating: 2
That's impressive linkage. Thanks for that.

You know, consider also that some of the "blockbuster" uses for drugs end up being things unrelated to the original mission for the drug, and that's even more lost potential every single year.


Cry Me a River
By BMFPitt on 12/6/2007 3:17:55 PM , Rating: 2
How long until we can get some generic "Restless Leg Syndrome" meds? How about "Social Anxiety Disorder" or "Seriously, These Symptoms Can Describe 99% of All People Disease"?

Maybe they can come up with a drug that gets you to stop needing so many unnecessary drugs?




RE: Cry Me a River
By psychmike on 12/6/2007 5:45:12 PM , Rating: 3
Right on. The pharmaceutical industry is concerned first with making a profit and if they happen to help people, that's a happy by-product. Especially in psychiatry, the industry isn't just 'solving' problems, they're beginning to define them. One of the reasons that the HAM-D depression scale is used so much in research is because it is heavily loaded with the vegetative symptoms that tend to respond well to medication. IF we define syndromes in terms of how they are affected by medication, by definition, medication will be found to be effective. But this kind of circular thinking doesn't lead to a better understanding of depression, schizophrenia, or other mental health problems.

An editorial in General Psychiatry (a fairly prestigious journal) recently blew the whistle on how much of psychiatric research is done. The author said that the completed research is shopped around to famous scientists who get money and status for attaching their names as primary author without actually being involved in the research.

This is very problematic because there are so many ways to fake significant findings and it takes integrity in the researcher to have a valid study. You can cherry pick the subjects or measures, drop out non-responders, and terminate studies that aren't giving you the results you want. You can shotgun outcome criteria instead of defining them a priori and pick the two or three things that happen to be affected by the treatment and call it effective even though those results may be due to chance.

New Scientist reviewed a study that found that pharmaceutical research is much more likely to be favorable (more effectiveness, fewer side effects)if it is conducted by a corporation investigating its products versus research conducted in a university setting.

Psychotherapy has been demonstrated to be equal in effectiveness to pharmaceutical interventions for depression and anxiety at mild to moderate levels and is significantly cheaper in the long run. It's also arguably more valuable because it teaches people insight and skills rather than simply treating the symptoms. But ours is a consumer society where problems and solutions are increasingly defined as being external to the self. If drug companies have too much power, we have also chosen to give it to them instead of cultivating more healthy lifestyles and relationships.

Mike


Look at the big picture
By ashtonmartin on 12/7/2007 3:40:58 AM , Rating: 3
It's easy to blame drug companies for all the troubles with healthcare. But let's look at some facts.

Here are some facts:

1. If you take a step back and look at health care expenditure as a whole, drugs account for only 10% of all healthcare expenditure. So even if you gave away all drugs for free, it would only reduce the cost of healthcare by 10%! Hospitals and doctor visits make up 2/3 of heathcare expenditures.

Read the article:

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m3257/is_10_...

If anything, we are not spending enough on drugs. Drugs are by far the best thing you can spend on health care.

2. Americans spend more in junk food and cigarettes combined than they do in drugs every year. So much for the starving patient argument, huh?

3. Drug companies have patient assistance programs that give medicines away for free to those patients that can't pay. check out www.pparx.org.

4. It takes on average $1 billion dollars and 10-15 years of R&D before a drug sees the light of day. Imagine if Intel or MS had a 10 year development cycle?

5. The author of this blog seems to delight in the misery of drug companies. But if the drug industry fails, our health will be the biggest loser.




RE: Look at the big picture
By masher2 (blog) on 12/7/2007 9:04:09 AM , Rating: 2
Excellent points, all. The public loves to point fingers, especially at large, corporate bogeymen...but the truth is considerably different.


Lipitor?
By Chernobyl68 on 12/6/2007 4:26:59 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Lipitor -- the most successful medication ever.


I daresay Penecillin has had its uses...




RE: Lipitor?
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 12/6/2007 5:12:54 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, but it wasnt "successful" which in business terms means, magical cash cow of epic proportions.


I love this argument!
By snorky on 12/7/2007 8:42:59 AM , Rating: 2
The problem is not US drug companies, but the fact that the US is almost the only non price controlled market for pharmacueticals. Along with the US drug companies - drug companies from Europe and Asia make most of their profits in the US.

The solution is simple - the US should subsidize its drug industry and other countries should subsidize their own. Right now - The US is subisdizing every drug company in the world - for the benefit of everyone.




RE: I love this argument!
By martinrichards23 on 12/7/2007 12:44:08 PM , Rating: 2
That's really just completely wrong.


NO PROFIT in cures
By on 12/7/2007 9:34:45 AM , Rating: 2
There is NO PROFIT in cures, only in long term treatments... Unfortunately, that is the model of pharma co's




RE: NO PROFIT in cures
By porkpie on 12/7/2007 10:07:42 AM , Rating: 2
Absolutely! And JFK was shot by the same guys who kidnapped Elvis too. BTW, he's still being held on the dark side of the moon. I get radio signals from him now and then.


Brain Candy
By Vanilla Thunder on 12/6/2007 3:08:06 PM , Rating: 3
Anyone reading this story that has not seen Kids in the Hall:Brain Candy should run out and get this movie now. It is a satirical comedy based around a situation very similar to this. The beauty is that this movie was relased years ago, before you saw commercials on TV for pharmies every 2 minutes. Ironic.

Vanilla




Don't throw in the towel just yet
By clovell on 12/6/2007 3:53:13 PM , Rating: 3
The industry as a whole is seeing a bleak outlook. But don't let that fool you, there are still companies that are innovating in spite of having patents expire.

Wish I could be more specific, but it'd be against policy, and I like my job ;)

Overall, good article.




wants?
By Oregonian2 on 12/6/2007 3:16:50 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Pharmaceutical companies are interesting in that they make products that no one wants , but hundreds of thousands of people must have to survive.


I think it's more proper to say that no one wants to want their product. Unfortunately a LOT of people DO want their products.




Not true at all
By Bioniccrackmonk on 12/6/2007 3:49:47 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Pharmaceutical companies are interesting in that they make products that no one wants


Well, I can think of several items I would keep around if I didn't need a prescription for them.




antibiotics & viruses
By CryptoQuick on 12/7/2007 6:51:16 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Antibiotics that worked well in the past are beginning to lose effectiveness as bacteria and viruses mutate into forms that are resistant to current antibiotics.

Last I checked, antibiotics didn't work on viruses in the first place; no wonder they're not effective!




Less Profit =/= No Profit
By EricMartello on 12/10/2007 10:38:46 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
The fear for many is that the dropping profit margins will result in less research and development funding, leading to less new drugs being developed.


That was a funny statement if you really think about what it is saying. "We're not going to make $10 billion in profits this year, only $8 billion...cut the R&D we can't afford it!" It's not like there is a doomsday in the future for these legal drug pushers.

Profit, by definition, is the money you have left over after paying all expenses - expenses which include R&D costs. The pharma companies aren't going to LOSE money, i.e. operate in the red, they will still be well in the black, just less than before. It's like someone going on a trip and saying they want to "rough it", so they say in a 4-star hotel as opposed to a 5-star.

Sounds like many of America's big and bloated industries, which have a serious difficulty adapting to changing market landscapes, are crying about making less money rather than appreciating the fact that they're still profitable. You'll hear similar whinery from the finance industry, which shot itself in the foot with its sub-prime lending rampage...and let's not forget RIAA/MPAA who has been...ahem...victimized by P2P file sharing.




Pearls
By Sleeperman on 12/15/2007 7:44:39 AM , Rating: 2
I've been a doctor for 27 years, so some of you will immediately disregard this comment. Nonetheless, I'd like to add a few brief observations based on my experience, and (being a doctor, after all) some general advice for the more rationally-inclined.

1. Demand for (imperfect) medical services far outstrips supply. Unchecked, this would bring any economy to it's knees.

2. Medical problems are often consequential. Deconditioning (and it's siblings, obesity and diabetes), substance abuse, high-risk behavior, and traumatic injuries (sporting and motor vehicle accidents, for example) are the usual root causes.

3. Seems to me that pharmaceutical drugs have, on the whole, lessened human suffering a very great deal. Their impact on infectious diseases has been substantial, at the least.

Finally, my advice for a long and healthy life: stay healthy. Assume responsibility for good health as much as you can; don't become your own worst enemy. Doctor's love healthy patients, and rarely see them...




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