Three items in today's news prompted thoughts about trusting pharmaceuticals. The first is pretty obviously connected.
If one-third of drugs you obtain are not what they claim to be what confidence can you place in treatment with them? Of course one can say that this is not a problem in countries where drugs are well-regulated, though the costs this imposes are substantial.
(By the way, the paracetamol mentioned, whose mechanism of action is still not understood, is more widely known under the names acetaminophen and Tylenol.)
About the best you can say about introducing a new drug is that it costs less than introducing a brand-new design for a major airliner or developing a nuclear weapon. Still, if the cost is around $1,000,000,000 and the delay is 15 years, how much sense does it make to invest this money when the patent life is 17 years (or 20 years from date of priority)? With the current pace of litigation you can expect the struggle to obtain and enforce a patent to last as long as any potential benefits. Investing in Spanish banks would be more certain. Pharmaceutical companies have taken note, and the results are apparent in the reduced recent pace of new introductions.
At least one may say we are safer because of this. Let's check on how the most expensive procurement process on Earth is doing in avoiding counterfeits.
Apparently, there is no limit to how high costs may rise without conferring much in the way of certainty. Are U.S. pharmaceuticals in better shape? Are clinical studies free from similar problems?
For comparison I'm going to look at another kind of drug. In 1918, at the end of a devastating war, estimated world production of cocaine was put at 10 tons. Recent estimates of world production are over 100 times as high, and most of this is illicit. At an estimated $100 per gram this is a staggering number.
Where would a savvy investor put his/her money?
Blog entry posted by anciendaze, May 22, 2012.