Izawwlgood wrote:Most doctors and patients I've interacted with who were dealing with terminal cancer made it quite clear that they were either approaching, at, or past, the point of 'we've done all we can'. I don't think it's remotely predatory of a drug company to sell a drug that marginally lengthens a patients life; having options is always a good thing.
When you're talking about cost differences that can hit 5 figure sums for an improvement in prognosis (not outcome, but the statistically most likely outcome) that can be measured in weeks; I can't help but think that's senseless.
The thing is that whilst the exorbitant cost can be justified when you consider that they have to make a massive material investment and fund at least two more rounds of research (epidemiological & process chem) to bring them to market; but
if those costs were ploughed into further development with that specific approach it would ultimately generate more benificial treatments sooner in the long term.
It doesn't neccessarily make commercial sense to concentrate more on R&D and maintain a smaller portfolio of more valuable active products; but in terms of advancment of treatment, I feel a case can be made...
@ qetzal: A significant proportion of the R&D costs are actually for the commercialisation of products, going from the initial synthetic method, to one which is suitable for making enough compound for a trial, to one which is workable on a commerical scale (i.e. from 50mg, to 100g-10kg, to +100kg) is actually very difficult; rarely are these complex syntheses infinitely scalable. Add in the added complication of going from something being done by hand, to designing and building a plant to produce it and you get the picture...
Of course having invested heavily in the original pure science research, the company is willing to invest here to bring it to market to hedge their risk; the sooner each bit of original research is making money, the less exposed they are in the market... Because being pipped to the post by a competitor could result in a massive loss.I suppose this is now starting to digress towards the question of whether a profit making business is the best vehicle for the advancement of medical technology and by extention whether medicine is a commodity or a right; both rather thorny issues.