Friday, 15 November 2013

Drugs and money - patents or patients

Eric Merola is about to release his sequel to his 2010 Burzynski, the Movie entitled Burzynski: Cancer is Serious Business, Part II. I blogged about the issues raised by the first film longer ago than I care to check.

I sometimes think that the pharmaceutical industry is one of the most worrying components of our current economic system. I am not cynical enough to suggest that everyone in the business is simply out to make money and doesn't really care about the public and its diseases, but how does one reconcile the issues?

  • Ideally, drugs / treatments should cure or relieve the symptoms of as many people as possible per unit of physical resources consumed.
  • In our current system, a return on investment (of £/$) is required.
  • In our current system, people need jobs
If a pharma company has spent £/$ millions developing a drug, it has to be bought so that they get their RoI. If not, the £ is wasted, and people will be out of a job. So, if some cheap and cheerful alternative comes along, it would hardly be surprising if those in big pharma who stand to lose their livelihoods went out of their way to undermine, play down, or discredit it. One subtle way they (allegedly) do this is to say that a rival treatment is untested (true at least by the methods they accept) whilst going out if their way to stop it being tested. Commercial rivalry.

I don't claim that Burzynski is excluded from this problem. He wants to (or needs to) benefit from patents on his treatment and with the current system who can blame him?

Only a purely objective, scientific study of the effectiveness of a treatment per unit of physical resource is saisfactory.With £/$ in the equation, even if this is possible, how can we ever be sure that £/$ is not distorting the science?

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