Tag Archives | Big Pharma

India’s Generic Hepatitis C Treatment To Cost 1,000 Times Less Than In U.S.

Is there any excuse for pricing a sorely-needed drug that can cure a killer virus 1,000 times more in the U.S. than it will cost in India? From Techdirt‘s rather-exorbitant dept.:

As Techdirt explained back in 2009,  India has a long and complicated relationship with patents, but more recently, it has established itself as the leading “pharmacy of the developing world,” thanks to its generic drug manufacturers which are able to supply key medicines at affordable prices. A recent patent decision, reported here by Intellectual Property Watch, continues that tradition:

Gilead Sciences Logo.svg

Today’s rejection by the Patent Office Controller of India of a patent application by Gilead company for a key drug against hepatitis C is being hailed by advocates as a path to dramatically lower costs of treatment for the disease. Hepatitis C has made news for the emergence of exorbitantly priced medicines over the past year.

A press release on the news from Médecins Sans Frontières explains just how exorbitant:

The oral drug, which first received regulatory approval in the US in November 2013, and has been priced by Gilead at US$84,000 for a treatment course, or $1,000 per pill in the US, has caused a worldwide debate on the pricing of patented medicines.

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Why Drugs Cost So Much

Big Pharma (Jacky Law book).jpg

More specifically, the question is why do prescription drugs from the large corporations collectively known as Big Pharma cost so much.

In an op-ed for the New York Times, Peter B. Bach, a physician and director of the Center for Health Policy and Outcomes at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, suggests, almost heretically one would have thought given his position in the healthcare establishment, that America should move to the European model of drug pricing:

Eli Lilly charges more than $13,000 a month for Cyramza, the newest drug to treat stomach cancer. The latest medicine for lung cancer, Novartis’s Zykadia, costs almost $14,000 a month. Amgen’s Blincyto, for leukemia, will cost $64,000 a month.

Why? Drug manufacturers blame high prices on the complexity of biology, government regulations and shareholder expectations for high profit margins. In other words, they say, they are hamstrung. But there’s a simpler explanation.

Companies are taking advantage of a mix of laws that force insurers to include essentially all expensive drugs in their policies, and a philosophy that demands that every new health care product be available to everyone, no matter how little it helps or how much it costs.

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Surprise: The Congressman Who Just Destroyed DC’s Marijuana Plans Is Bought Off By Big Pharma

Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) is comprehensively outed as a Big Pharma shill by attn:

Earlier today, we published a story about Rep. Andy Harris from Maryland who just led the charge to overturn the will of Washington D.C. voters by inserting language into Congress’ spending bill that prevents the District from implementing the referendum they passed to legalize recreational marijuana in the 2014 midterm election. That referendum, by the way, passed with 70% of the vote on Election Day.

Attn: recently conducted a poll of its readers which found that more than 90 percent support marijuana legalization as well.

“Relaxing [marijuana] laws clearly leads to more teenage drug use,” Rep. Harris said. “It should be intuitively obvious to everyone that if you legalize marijuana for adults, more children will use marijuana because the message that it’s dangerous will be blunted.”

Except the Congressman is dead wrong. According to Gallup, marijuana use among 18-29 year olds has fallen 20% since 1985.

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Big Pharma Plays Hide-the-Ball With Data

newsweek big pharmaThe post-Barry Diller/IAC Newsweek is getting back into the business of serious journalism, apparently, with a scathing report on how drug companies are hiding research data that could harm their more dubious drug products:

…The consequences of exclusion or delay of trial data have ranged from frustration to mass fatalities. When one doctor in Italy was diagnosed with bone cancer, he wanted to know whether a stem cell transplant would offer hope of a cure. Four clinical trials had been conducted, but none had been fully published. “Why was I forced to make my decision knowing that information was somewhere but not available?” he wrote in the BMJ. “Was the delay because the results were less exciting than expected?”

The most infamous case of publication bias is a 1980 study in which heart attack patients were split into two groups: One group received a drug called lorcainide, while the other group received a placebo.

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Big Pharma Has Made Americans Into Wimps

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Americans are wimpy hypochondriacs, says Julie Gray at Huffington Post:

…The way illness is treated in the United States is ghastly, ranging from costly, inadequate insurance to cheap, over the counter medicines for everything under the sun. It has turned us into a nation of willfully ignorant drug and convenience addicted wimps, buying treatments for symptoms that we don’t like and medications for illnesses we don’t have, padding the pockets of big pharma along the way.

We have become a nation for whom illness is anathema. We are terrified of diseases we probably won’t get; the Ebola scare is sweeping the nation. It was SARS before that. And the H1N1 flu epidemic before that — and so on. Our sense of proportionality, of the actual impact of illness, is way out of whack.

From where I live now, I am thankful that I cannot reach for a spray or lozenge that will make it go away.

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Big Pharma Wants You High on Pills Not Weed | Interview with Sam Sacks

Abby Martin speaks with RT political commentator, Sam Sacks, discussing the shift in state policy on marijuana use, citing a report by journalist Lee Fang that outlines why marijuana is such a threat to the bottom line of American pharmaceutical companies.

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Big Pharma’s Latest Trick: Testing Meds on Homeless People

Homeless Veteran on the streets of Boston, MA

Homeless Veteran on the streets of Boston, MA

Are the massive pharmaceutical corporations known collectively as “Big Pharma” now the world’s worst corporate villains? Carl Elliott writes of a dastardly plan to test trial medications on homeless people, at Medium:

Two years ago, on a gray January afternoon, I visited the Ridge Avenue homeless shelter in Philadelphia. I was looking for poor people who had been paid to test experimental drugs. The streets outside the shelter were lined with ruined buildings and razor wire, and a pit bull barked behind a chain-link fence. A young guy was slumped on the curb, glassy-eyed and shaky. My guide, a local mental health activist named Connie Schuster, asked the guy if he was okay, but he didn’t answer. “My guess is heroin,” she said.

We arrived at the shelter, where a security guard was patting down residents for weapons. It didn’t take long for the shelter employees to confirm that some of the people living there were taking part in research studies.

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Trans-Pacific Partnership Reveals Deadly Cost of American Patents

tppAnother take on the evils of TPP from Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism:

While US news stories occasionally mention the breathtaking cost of some medications, they almost always skirt the issue of why American drugs are so grotesquely overpriced by world standards. The pharmaceutical industry has managed to sell the story that it’s because they need all that dough to pay for the cost of finding new drugs.

That account is patently false.

First, part of the story the drug industry chooses to omit is that a substantial portion of drug R&D, and the riskiest part (basic research) is heavily funded by the National Institutes of Health and other government agencies. It’s hard to put all the data together, but the latest estimates I’ve seen put the total funded by the government at over 30%.

Second, Big Pharma spends more on marketing [than] on R&D. And it markets in the highest cost manner possible: in person sales calls to small business owners (doctors).

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How Big Pharma is Killing Cancer Patients

Abby Martin highlights a new report from the World Health Organization that predicts global cancer rates to rise by 57% over the next 20 years, and calls attention to the battle over generic cancer medicine and the threat posed by pharmaceutical companies who put profits before human need.

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