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Re: The patent process

From: Barry Pearson
Subject: Re: The patent process
Date: Tue, 11 May 2004 23:43:42 +0100

Christopher Browne wrote:
> A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, "Barry Pearson"
>> I think the pharmaceutical industry is the classic case. They spend
>> gob-smacking amounts on trying to make the next life-saving drug.
>> The vast majority of attempts fail in trials. The cost of satisfying
>> government agencies is huge. And, by the time they have got through
>> the process, there are only a few years left on the patent, in which
>> to try to get their money back! Then it becomes "generic", and
>> everyone can make & sell it.
>> Change a few details about patent law, and they would make more
>> money if they just stuck what they had in a bank, fired all their
>> researchers, and just claimed the interest! (And let people die).
> There is also a "product churn" problem here...
> People might very well be better off if the pharmaceutical industry
> _did_ stop doing that work, fired their researchers, and such.

I share your concern. For example, you may have read about the "polypill".
This is about 5 or 6 generic drugs that everyone over about 50 would take
every day. And the estimate is that it would greatly increase life expectancy.
(I am closer to 50 than 20!)

> What appears to be happening in the marketplace is that older drugs
> are pooh-poohed based on the fact that it is more profitable to market
> the still-in-the-patent-money newer ones.
> We might be better off, overall, if money was being spent on the
> "mature" drugs, that cost less, and that are better understood, as
> opposed to money getting thrust at the expensive new ones.

It works both ways. I have been examining the market for the next generation
of male contraceptives. This isn't about mature drugs - it is a new area. It
will only happen if the drug companies see sufficient pay-back for their
investment. And this is an investment that has been going on a *long* time!
Decades, without return. We have cheap technology in India & China - but it
doesn't match "western" safety standards. Should we reduce our safety

Years ago, I saw an estimate that it cost about $70million to get a new drug
past the FDA in the USA. (I'm in the UK - I don't have an equivalent figure).
And then they expect to have perhaps 10,000 or more law suits, over the
life-time of the drug.

Gosh! We could simply stagnate, if we are not careful.

Barry Pearson

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