Pharma research is all buck, no bang

From Time Magazine:

Too Little Bang for the Buck in Drug Research?

A new government report spotlights an apparent lack of productivity in Big Pharma’s pipeline

Whenever critics complain about the high cost of prescription drugs, the pharmaceutical industry’s standard defense is that companies have to plow so much money into researching innovative new medicines. But a recently released report from the Government Accountability Office casts doubt on that rationale…

Business interests have actually been a factor in curbing innovations, the GAO found. During the past decade the pharmaceutical industry has tended to focus on “blockbuster drugs” for large patient populations that can generate as much as $1 billion in annual sales, while ignoring “other drugs for more limited populations that generate much less revenue.” Manufacturers find “me too” drug development less risky and more potentially lucrative than research into brand new medications…

(Without regulatory changes,) the billions for research will end up producing bigger profits, but not necessarily better medications.

I am encouraged by the public attention issues like this are beginning to receive. Let’s hope it will lead to changes in policy that will make Big Pharma R&D more accountable — and prescription drugs more affordable.

Every dollar Big Pharma wastes today is a dollar more that an uninsured worker or underinsured senior will have to spend to purchase needed medications.

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