This week in his blog about the Pharma industry ‘In the Pipeline’ Derek Lowe discusses the trend toward increasingly high drug prices especially with regard to new drugs for cancer. Refuting a post in Forbes by Peter Bach, “Cancer: Unpronounceable Drugs, Incomprehensible Prices” Lowe trots out the old arguments about research costs and patent lifetimes being the root of extreme drug prices. Bach says that drug companies charge what they think they can get away with. Lowe says, so what, so do all other corporations.
Usually I think that Lowe’s blog is excellent and often right on target about important issues in Pharma. However, here I think that he really misses the point. Drugs are not like potato chips. There really isn’t a free market of informed sellers and buyers. Drug prices need to conform to societal goals (better heath) rather than exclusively profit considerations.
The bottom line really is that drug development is too important to be left solely to an industry that is exclusively driven by greed. We need to start looking at new modes of drug discovery and development that are driven by health needs and not by the need to boost stock prices and CEO bonuses.
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