MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Moonshot Medicine – LewRockwell

Posted by Martin C. Fox on April 23, 2018

The big insult is why private and governmental agencies give license to over-priced medicines when the costs of research and development are born by the public? An example is a drug to cure hepatitis C that was largely developed with public funds but its patents rights were assigned to private entities.

Drug companies come up with these exorbitant prices by factoring the life-long cost of symptom treatment against their one-time cure.

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2018/04/bill-sardi/moonshot-medicine-who-can-afford-it/

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It is all part of the 21st Century Cures Act, which spreads $4.8 billion of research funding in an attempt to accelerate the development and approval of real cures.  But will this Herculean effort bankrupt insurance pools?

The money is being directed toward expensive pharmacological cures that will further burst the Medicare Trust fund.  Gobs of federal money are going towards innovations, like CRISPR gene therapy, that intends to completely remedy single-gene mutation diseases like cystic fibrosis, sickle cell, Huntington’s disease, and muscular dystrophy, all cured in a single treatment.  But at what cost?

The rationale is that pharmaceutical companies need to earn a payback on their investment.  The big insult is why private and governmental agencies give license to over-priced medicines when the costs of research and development are born by the public? An example is a drug to cure hepatitis C that was largely developed with public funds but its patents rights were assigned to private entities.

None of this talk about cures really allows less expensive cures to ever get anywhere.  For example, news headlines speak of a high-tech cure for beta thalassemia, a blood disease where there isn’t enough hemoglobin to transport oxygen in red blood cells.  In what is being billed as “the world’s first genetically modified humans,” an expensive stem cell treatment to cure this blood disorder awaits final human testing.  But this reporter uncovered a far less expensive treatment that completely cured thalassemia 52% of the time.  Resveratrol, a red wine molecule, had already landed on the moon before researchers launched their historic “moonshot” gene modification cure…

But the FDA is only giving lip service to the idea of affordability.

Big Pharma is in no mood to cooperate.  For example, there is a gene therapy cure called Luxturna that just gained FDA approval for an inherited eye disease that will cost $425,000 per eye ($850,000 per patient).  It would cost $5.1 billion to treat the estimated 6000 patients in developed countries with this inherited eye disease.  Drug companies come up with these exorbitant prices by factoring the life-long cost of symptom treatment against their one-time cure.

Ethical medicine: putting itself out of business

Of course, isn’t the ethical mission of modern medicine to put itself out of business?  If one-time treatments truly cure, insurance premiums should drop, not unceasingly rise, which is the current situation.  However, what is ethical may not be perpetually profitable.

Here is how an article at FiercePharma described the dilemma (paraphrased):

A Goldman Sachs analyst says company X “is an example of a company that has already suffered financially from curing patients. The success of the company’s hepatitis C franchise… “has gradually exhausted the available pool of treatable patients. That shrinking customer base, coupled with tough competition from competing drugs, forced company X to forecast hep C sales for this year of no more than $4 billion—falling short of analysts’ estimates of $5 billion.”  Company X sales of its hep-c cure peaked at $12.5 billion in 2015.

Yep, drug companies are “suffering,” not the patients…

Be seeing you

Bernie

 

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