Thoughts About Pharmaceutical Industry

______no5

The Angel Of The Odd
This is a video that forwarded me by some colleague, and I thought it could be a nice subject for discussion.
Certainly the journalist plays a certain role here, while the scientist puts things more realistic,
but yet there are a few things that one can realise by watching it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0qiY93khAYI
 

IronDuke

Ancient Mariner
*facepalm*

Do you realize how hard it is to keep a secret that big from leaking out? Do you know how many people would have to be involved in such a thing? And not one of them is speaking out? Really? Come on, dude.

This is about as half baked as the people who deny the moon landings or think that the phone company killed Kennedy.
 

______no5

The Angel Of The Odd
I didn't make any comment on that story yet...  :huh:
It can be true, as it can be fake -I believe that it can have some real basis,
let's say the scientist's point of view -not the journalist's
 

Deano

Ancient Mariner
I still can't watch youtube videos at work but if it's about the pharmaceutical industry in any capacity, I'm sure it's screwed up.
 

Perun

Academic
Staff member
It's basically an excited CNN anchor shouting emotional babble for nine minutes. I couldn't take it anymore after about four.
 

Raven

Ancient Mariner
IronDuke said:
*facepalm*

Do you realize how hard it is to keep a secret that big from leaking out? Do you know how many people would have to be involved in such a thing? And not one of them is speaking out? Really? Come on, dude.

This is about as half baked as the people who deny the moon landings or think that the phone company killed Kennedy.
Despite the journalist's style of delivering the story, there's not that much that connects pharmaceutical companies 'witholding' dugs with traditional conspiracy theories.  The only reason that the pharma will invest in research for a drug is if they can make a profit before the patent runs out.  The drug in question is already used to treat lactic acidosis, so it can't be patented by itself.  Hence the pharma won't fund the development, testing and distribution of the drug.  They're not philanthropic organisations, they're there to make a profit.  It's not really a case of people 'speaking out' against GSK or Novartis, because there are many drugs that don't get funded because they're unprofitable.  Currently, Herceptin (used to treat breast cancers) is in the middle of a legal debate in the UK, because the NHS refuses to fund it as a treatment, due to the high cost and relatively low 5-year survival rates.  There's no conspiracy there, I'm afraid.  Just cash.
 

LooseCannon

Yorktown-class aircraft carrier
Staff member
Glenn Beck.

Seriously, no5?  You want me to watch something with Glenn fucking Beck in it?  This guy is worse than O'Reilly.  He's a right wing conspiratorial fucktard with zero qualification to report anything.  He actually should be taken out the back and shot.

I'm with Raven: companies are in it for the money.  That's why the government has to fund many areas of research, because companies aren't going to go into a branch of medicine until it is profitable, and the government has to show this first.
 

SinisterMinisterX

Illuminatus
Staff member
Raven said:
The only reason that the pharma will invest in research for a drug is if they can make a profit before the patent runs out.
Right in essence, but there's more to it...

As soon as a pharma company has a promising drug in the pipeline, they file for the patent. Maybe with further research, that drug will turn out to be a bad idea ... but they've patented and done some research just in case.

In the US, drug patents last for 20 years. Since the drug company filed ASAP, it actually takes (on average) 12 of those 20 years to finish the research, do clinical trials and get government approval. The average new drug is out there for about 8 years before the patent runs out.

So research continues. The original company is looking for a "new and improved" version which they can get a new patent on. All other companies assign their generic-drug divisions to reverse engineer it, so they can sell a generic equivalent the minute the patent runs out.

And I literally mean "the minute" it runs out. I was working for Geneva Pharmaceuticals (the generic division of Novartis) when the patent on Prozac ran out. The demand for a cheap generic equivalent was huge. We had truckloads of the generic version packed up and ready to ship well in advance. We couldn't legally ship until the patent ran out - so at midnight on that day, everyone came to work in the middle of the night to ship that stuff the second it was legal.

But here's the interesting bit - they don't worry about profit only "before the patent runs out". When the drug goes generic, the original company will start selling it as a generic. Because they've been making it for years, they already have the economies of scale set up; they can produce and sell the generic cheaper. They continue to make plenty of profit.

So you want the original for the price of a generic? Find out which generic company is owned by the big drug company, and buy their version. It's the same thing. When I worked for Geneva, one of the biggest sellers for Novartis was Ritalin. Every other company made the generic equivalent: methylphenidate. But the Geneva "methylphenidate" was real Ritalin, made by the same people in the same factory with the same formula.
 

LooseCannon

Yorktown-class aircraft carrier
Staff member
Just repriced and repackaged so they wouldn't have their share significantly undercut, right, allowing them to grab a portion of the continuing profits?
 

Invader

Ancient Mariner
I heard about this from someone a few months ago, and it didn't sound nearly as provocative as from that CNN guy.  Plus, the anchor was trying to present it as a real "cure for cancer", and it certainly doesn't appear as clear-cut as that.  Anyway, my dad used to work for Novartis, and he told me a lot about this patent/generic drug thing too, pretty much similar to what SMX said.  And still he recommended the generic products over Novartis ones.  :D

BTW, welcome back Raven, I haven't seen you in some time. :)
 

______no5

The Angel Of The Odd
Very interesting post SMX!

SinisterMinisterX said:
In the US, drug patents last for 20 years. Since the drug company filed ASAP, it actually takes (on average) 12 of those 20 years to finish the research, do clinical trials and get government approval. The average new drug is out there for about 8 years before the patent runs out.
Just a question. In my knowledge there are 3 level of patents :
The national, the continental (at least there is an EU level here), and the universal.
The higher the level is, the more expensive is the patent = continental > national

Obviously although these patents you speak about are (logically) universal ones,
so is the US legislation to oblige the release of the patent after 20 years, am I right ??
 

SinisterMinisterX

Illuminatus
Staff member
LooseCannon said:
Just repriced and repackaged so they wouldn't have their share significantly undercut, right, allowing them to grab a portion of the continuing profits?
Exactly right. They know their market share will drop overnight, so they're just trying to get a piece of the new action.
 

IronDuke

Ancient Mariner
Quetzalcoatlus said:
Very interesting post SMX!

Just a question. In my knowledge there are 3 level of patents :
The national, the continental (at least there is an EU level here), and the universal.
The higher the level is, the more expensive is the patent = continental > national

Obviously although these patents you speak about are (logically) universal ones,
so is the US legislation to oblige the release of the patent after 20 years, am I right ??
I don't know for sure.
I think patent laws in the Western world, especially in the US, are horribly backward and out dated.

The original reason for patents was to encourage innovation and development by letting the inventor/author/artist/creator profit from the work for a period of time, and then it would pass into the public domain for everyone to use. Like the cotton gin, vulcanized rubber, electric lights, etc.

Originally, patents in the US were only for 5 years. Then the uber rich lobbied in the late 1800's to have it extended to 10 year. Then 15, then 25, etc. Now, for books at least, the copyright doesn't expire until 70 years after the author's death. That actually stifles innovation and creative use of existing ideas and technology, I think.
 

SinisterMinisterX

Illuminatus
Staff member
You're right about copyright (70 years after death), but that's very different from a patent in terms of the way others use it. But I do agree that copyright is broken. Works should become public domain after the artist has died, and all his contracts have expired.

Consider an artist who dies suddenly like Buddy Holly. It's not fair to put his works in public domain right away - there was a record company with exclusive rights to sell his records, and it's not fair to screw them out of their contract because of a plane crash. But whenever that contract ends, public domain is appropriate. And if no termination is written into the contract, then something like 10 years after artist death is a reasonable limit.

70 years after death is just stupid; it eventually benefits people who had nothing to do with the original work.

My number of 20 years for drug patents comes from information I got in 2001. I haven't heard if it has increased since then.
 

______no5

The Angel Of The Odd
I couldn't agree more.

What one to say for the holy books that should be for free, and still you pay them in the price of a normal book.
It's not normal.
 

LooseCannon

Yorktown-class aircraft carrier
Staff member
Well, some do.  You see, companies sell the Bible, but many churches give them out at their own expense.  However, God (being an imaginary being, or at best, a deity who doesn't care about earthly profit margins) could care less, so the people who make the books and the paper and such in it still have costs.
 
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