Sunday, June 18, 2006

Big pharma puts profits ahead of patients

That's no surprise but it doesn't make it any less galling that Genentech refuses to seek a license for a new use for one of it's colon cancer drugs. Ophthalmologists around the world have discovered that the drug, Avastin, can be injected into the eyes of patients suffering with wet macular degeneration and actually cure them of the condition, which rapidly causes blindness in the elderly, for about $10 a dose.

Genentech refuses to put the use up for medical review in favor of pushing a new drug, basically a renamed derivative of Avastin, that would cost $1000 a dose. The pharma claims its interest is in patient safety and that it needs to charge 100 times more for the same drug to cover development costs. What they neglect to mention is the costs include the millions they spend on PR campaigns promoting the drugs.

I'm not big on government interference in private industry but this is classic case of why it's sometimes needed. There oughta be a law against this kind of greed driven gouging. In practical terms, it's a criminal offense against the public health.

[hat tip Jules Siegel]


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