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Booze, work, outrage

Apologies for absence; I’ve been working insane hours on a pharmaceutical industry project, which is now over.

Interesting tangentially related statistic #1: a patented cancer drug takes seven years to bring from the start of human trials to market, and has a 9% chance of actually reaching market. Even after successful Phase II trials (which determine effectiveness), it still only has a 30% chance of reaching the market. Statistic #2 is that, if a cancer drug does reach the market, manufacturing costs are around €25 per dose, while the drug sells for around €750 per dose.

Now, do we think that #1 and #2 are related? Do we think that maybe, just maybe, the overregulated drug safety system is at least as significant than the Evil Moneygrubbingness Of Big Pharma in ensuring that patented drugs sell for such a high price? Do we think that perhaps drugs for rapidly fatal conditions such as treatment-refractory cancer should be marketed once broad efficacy is proven, rather than waiting to see if they might slightly increase your chance of a heart attack if you’re lucky enough to be cured? Yes, actually we do.

(obviously this is only true for drugs that treat acute, fatal conditions – if a drug is being widely prescribed to people who aren’t acutely ill for chronic usage, as with cardiovascular or mental health drugs, then the Phase III trial phase of checking a large group of patients for unusual but serious or long-term side effects is a useful one.)

Unrelatedly, I’ve got another piece up at the Sharpener, on drink-related sillyness. I’d also like to draw everyone’s attention to the fact that the UK police have conspired to destroy the lives of thousands of innocent people, and nobody seems to care.

Categories: Bit of politics
  1. April 27, 2007 at 9:40 pm | #1

    Re the drugs, perhaps something along the lines of the US system, whereby experimental drugs for AIDS get fast tracked approval on the very basis that you suggest?
    Took years of campaigning to get to even that though.

  2. skh.pcola
    April 30, 2007 at 4:38 pm | #2

    The fast track drugs, IIRC, are those that have a niche use, instead of a potentially large market. Plus, there have to be sufficient volounteers (presumably in the terminal stage of their condition) to fast track the trials.

    There's certainly no easy way to bring complex drugs to market, but the FDA has earned more than a little criticism for its byzantine bureaucracy. Trial lawyers can also shoulder much of the blame…class action suits here in the states are large-scale scams.

  3. dsquared
    June 8, 2007 at 9:09 pm | #3

    Most cancer drugs are really quite toxic things in and of themselves; if it turns out to be a dud, it's not just a matter of "not getting better as quickly as you'd hoped to".

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