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The million-dollar drug

TU Curmudgeon

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From the CBC

The million-dollar drug


It is one of this country's great scientific achievements.

The first drug ever approved that can fix a faulty gene.

It's called Glybera, and it can treat a painful and potentially deadly genetic disorder with a single dose — a genuine made-in-Canada medical breakthrough.

But most Canadians have never heard of it.

A team of researchers at the University of British Columbia spent decades developing the treatment for people born with a genetic mutation that causes lipoprotein lipase disorder (LPLD).

COMMENT:-

Actually quite a long read, but worth it for the insight it gives into drug pricing.

PS - You might want to note that the drug companies never actually paid for any of the research required to develop the drug and that there is no actual mention of what it would cost to produce the drug - only how the drug companies figured how much they could charge for the drug.
 

Xelor

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From the CBC

The million-dollar drug


It is one of this country's great scientific achievements.

The first drug ever approved that can fix a faulty gene.

It's called Glybera, and it can treat a painful and potentially deadly genetic disorder with a single dose — a genuine made-in-Canada medical breakthrough.

But most Canadians have never heard of it.

A team of researchers at the University of British Columbia spent decades developing the treatment for people born with a genetic mutation that causes lipoprotein lipase disorder (LPLD).

COMMENT:-

Actually quite a long read, but worth it for the insight it gives into drug pricing.

PS - You might want to note that the drug companies never actually paid for any of the research required to develop the drug and that there is no actual mention of what it would cost to produce the drug - only how the drug companies figured how much they could charge for the drug.

Red:
It seems "Big Pharma" has Canada's government, as it does the US', in its pocket.
 

TU Curmudgeon

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Red:
It seems "Big Pharma" has Canada's government, as it does the US', in its pocket.

Actually "Big Pharma" in this case is a company that doesn't manufacture anything and has absolutely no plans to do so.

The private individuals who did all the research and experimentation while being paid by government funded universities (and who collected $34,000,000 for the rights that the purchaser surrendered to them for free) have reaped all the benefits (well, other than the 34 people who were cured).
 

Xelor

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Actually "Big Pharma" in this case is a company that doesn't manufacture anything and has absolutely no plans to do so.

The private individuals who did all the research and experimentation while being paid by government funded universities (and who collected $34,000,000 for the rights that the purchaser surrendered to them for free) have reaped all the benefits (well, other than the 34 people who were cured).

Yes, that's the front end of the arrangement...now comes the back end.
 

Mr Person

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As a general matter, it is worth bearing in mind that drugs aimed at a small population are typically going to be very expensive. In the ordinary case, there's no other way to justify development costs. There's also the fact that most drugs fail at some point in development. Those costs are factored into the drugs that are actually sold.

Moreover, if you want to sell in the US you have to be up to FDA standards. A drug made with the US market in mind is going to be more expensive than otherwise, especially if it's one aimed at a small population.

One part of rising health care costs we can't ever really do anything about results from the simple fact that the farther along we go, the more treatments we develop, the more overall cost of providing care. On top of that, apart from a few major diseases like cancer, the diseases for which drugs are being developed are generally for an increasingly smaller set of patients.



Now, maybe this drug isn't the best example of all of the above, but it may not be on the same level as the Daraprim chicanery (buying up an old drug with a small target population and jacking the price astronomically).
 

TU Curmudgeon

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As a general matter, it is worth bearing in mind that drugs aimed at a small population are typically going to be very expensive. In the ordinary case, there's no other way to justify development costs. There's also the fact that most drugs fail at some point in development. Those costs are factored into the drugs that are actually sold.

I agree, and that fact is one of the reasons why "Big Pharma" spends most of its R&D money on attempting to find ways to get around the patents on already existing drugs.

However, in this - specific - case, the drug companies spent less than CDN$0.10 on R&D since the whole of the costs were borne by the Canadian government (read as "Canadian taxpayers") through its funding of universities.

Where "Big Pharma" got involved was in paying an enormous amount of money for the right to market a drug that needed no advertising (outside of factual articles in medical journals [and they normally don't charge the authors for publishing factual articles]) so that it could use the amount of money it spent to acquire the right to market the drug at an enormous mark-up.

Indeed, spending $1,000,000 for a single course of treatment that would last at least 10 years IS cheaper than spending $300,000 per year on a course of treatment which may well have much the same effect but which requires treatment on an ongoing basis. But so is spending $500,000, or $100,000, or $50,000, or $10,000, or $5,000, or $1,000, or $500, or $100.

The question of "ethical pricing" revolves around the actual cost of manufacturing and NOT (in my opinion) how much the company paid to purchase the right to market the drug (especially when the company didn't spend a dime to develop the drug in the first place.

This case is EXACTLY the same as "the Daraprim chicanery" - if not worse (since this drug appears to actually CURE the underlying condition).
 
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