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Pharmaceutical companies getting rich off of desperate patients

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Did anybody else see this story on W5? Does anybody else find it disgusting and disturbing that the pharmaceutical companies exploit patients that are in need by setting ridiculously high prices for drugs?





From the pharmaceutical industry's perspective, high costs are an unavoidable part of doing business. According to Russell Williams, president of Rx&D, the association that represents pharmaceutical companies in Canada, developing new drugs is very expensive.


"It costs our industry to develop one of our products approximately, and these are rounded figures, slightly over a billion dollars to discover that product and make it available," said Williams.


That billion-dollar figure is regularly quoted by the drug industry to support high drug costs and is based on a 2002 study conducted by researchers at Tufts University in Boston. Using data provided by the drug companies, the Tufts study concluded that "total R&D cost per new drug is $802-million (U.S. dollars)." In the intervening eight years that figure has been rounded up to a billion dollars.


"If we want to continue to bring new medicines that will save lives and improve the quality of life, we're going to need an environment in which we can create the revenues to keep reinvesting in research," said Williams.


But critics believe the billion-dollar price tag is fictitious.


"Those figures come from industry supported economists using confidential data submitted in secret by companies to their leading policy research centre at Tufts University that no one else can see except those economists," explained Light. "They essentially take what they claim to be $71 million of direct costs and inflate them up to $1.3 billion."


"They're trying to convince people that they have to pay high prices for prescription drugs to cover the R and D costs. That simply isn't true," said Dr. Marcia Angell. She is the former Editor in Chief of the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine and the author of "The Truth about Drug Companies." "The best charitable guess would be about $100-million per new pill," she said.


Angell believes the reason for high drug costs can be found in the bottom line for all drug companies. "Every year they are in the top couple of companies in terms of most profitable industries in the United States," she said.

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Just 'cause it's not new does not make it any less "disgusting and disturbing", as the OP said.


But what can we do about it? They have immense lobbying power to protect their vested interests. and in the US, their people slip into powerful regulatory positions, thereby protecting the industry. Moreover, they need all their profits b/c the authorities allow them to fast track their products to market - and then, they eventually pay out billions in settlments for the deaths and damages caused by their products.

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