Blog entry posted by anciendaze, May 22, 2012.

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?
George and Merry like this.

About the Author

As the name suggests, I am old and dazed. The avatar illustrates my rule of thumb: "Hang on! This ride isn't over."
  1. George
    There is going to have to be a gradual socialization of all institutions in order to deal with population and inclusion of population that means science as well as corporations, medical as well banking. That's my theory and I'll probably be dead before it happens. (grins) Nice article Daze.
  2. alex3619
    I foresee a huge crisis in about twenty years with increased retirees and increased disabled. The only solution is more research into chronic disease. I cannot see any viable alternative to this than coming from government - big pharma is not going to do it. So we either have a Titanic style economic crisis in our forseeable future, or we use rational methods to avert it. Delaying will mean that the only alternatives available might resembe Nazi Germany and how they handled things. We are not debating this much - only that a crisis is coming. Economic rationalist approaches will, in my opinion, magnify not reduce the cost. Sure you save on pensions - and spend ten times as much on hospitals and prisons. Way to go.
  3. alex3619
    Anciendaze, I agree with you - in fact the source I will be citing, who is a surgeon, does not pose the issue as a conspiracy but expected business practice. The problem is in the way things are handled, routinely, and using accepted practice, not a covert or illegal conspiracy. Its dysfunctional at a societal level, but the institutions concerned are indeed abiding by regulations.

    The issue is that some of the conspiracies discussed here are very close to what appears to be happening and considered normal business activity. Its not conspiracy, its different parts of society acting in their own best interest.
  4. anciendaze
    I want to draw a line between conspiracy theories and the observation that an institution, organization or process is dysfunctional. What I've said above points to several dysfunction processes. The main thing they have in common is the participation of humans with their own immediate interests at heart and little concern for larger implications.
  5. alex3619
    I am going to be quoting someone on pharmaceuticals in relation to H. pylori in my new blog when its posted. Some of the conspiracy type ideas discussed on PR are in fact being discussed by some professional surgeons and the like. They suspect the same kinds of things.