There’s a relatively recent article that I came across that deals with the trouble that pharmaceutical companies are having. They are having major problems due to a number of factors. The former pharmaceutical researcher (Johnathan Bloom, Ph.D.) that wrote this article speaks about the obvious factors that are negatively affecting the pharmaceutical industry.
He covers the phenomenon of the large number of big money drug patents that are going to expire shortly. Just from expiring patents, he estimates that the Big Pharma industry will lose about $50 billion.
He also speaks on U.S. patent law, which allows a company to have exclusive rights to profits from the drugs that they produce. After taking in to consideration related issues, the effective length of the profit period is about 8 years. After that, generics are produced and the sales of the brand name drug plummet. In fact, he says that most drugs never reach a breakeven, since most of them take about a billion to develop. In this type of pharmaceutical environment, the blockbuster multi-billion dollar profit drug is a critical element in the pharmaceutical drug paradigm.
He admits that new blockbuster drugs are not being developed to replace the ones that have expiring patents. An interesting thing that he said was that some of the new drugs that are being developed are not really any better than the older ones. In fact, many (if not most) of them are less effective, and maybe even more harmful than the older ones they are meant to replace.
Another factor that he identifies is how the FDA has been evaluating drugs. He says that FDA has now been rejecting a lot of new drugs, and also becoming more stringent in their approval processes.
In the 1990’s, which he calls the “Golden Years” of pharmaceutical research, scientists were generating scores of new drugs and therapies for a number of previously unmet medical needs. Numerous first-in-class drugs were being developed. And then, FDA passed some measures which would accelerate the drug approval process. He claims that the Vioxx fiasco and the controversy related to antidepressants for adolescents put a chill on drug approvals.
Although he doesn’t lay all of the blame on the FDA or the pharmaceutical industry, he does mention these factors. He also says that all of the ‘easy’ diseases were addressed in the 90’s, and that now, they have to fight to discover the treatments for the tougher diseases.
I think that the researcher is being as honest as he can. But what was glaring at me throughout the entire article was that Dr. Bloom (and others like him) in the pharmaceutical and medical industries can not see is that they are wedded to a strategy and philosophy that only includes patentable drugs. They can not (or choose not to) see any substance outside of this small subset of chemicals!
It’s like the 800 lb gorilla in the living room that nobody wants to acknowledge. I can understand that people want jobs, status and prestige. But at the same time, there should come a time when lives are more important than profits. But this doesn’t always seem to be the case.
From what I can see, the reason why Big Pharma is having major problems is because their synthetic drug paradigm is failing. The bottom line is that there is no way to poison someone to good health. This is why the pharmaceutical industry is collapsing from its own weight. It is not sustainable for society to be able to expend a billion dollars per pharmaceutical drug in order to sell many billions of dollars of them.
The pharmaceutical drug paradigm is one of reaction to disease. But a more advanced (although less profitable) and sensible strategy would be to prevent disease before it manifests. It is always much easier to prevent a problem from becoming a problem than it is to solve it after it causes bad things to happen.
They say that if a man’s knowledge of a thing would cost him money, he will tend not to know about it. This appears to be the same thing happening in the pharmaceutical industry. But it does get worse than that because they have been known to actually suppress and deny proven cures for cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and other diseases that have become modern epidemics. I think that most researchers are genuine in their desire to find effective treatments for disease. Unfortunately, they are constrained by an obsolete, ineffective, faulty paradigm, and this is why they are not able to find cures for diseases. They are constrained to find drugs for treatment, and not to give the body the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that it needs to heal itself. As long as researchers maintain this artificially narrow, predetermined endpoint to research, they will never achieve the goal of manufacturing healthy, effective treatments (or cures) for disease.