Big Pharma's origin: how the Chicago School and private equity shifted medicine's focus from health to wealth

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/08/11/price-of-progress.html

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Be nice if we could sue the Chicago School of Economics for malpractice.

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It would be helpful if we knew the natural health approaches. Preventative and curative rather than proprietary and proscriptive. Native Americans had them. Church has them (built in). AMA shot one down when Royal Rife proposed it … done in other countries now and other times … seems some are in sickness benefits. FDA/USDA don’t normalize for them. Amazon is missing one and talking about health benefits. Seems to be Internally first, then externally. Maybe the feint, acquisition, stack and opposite of sickness benefits. Disguised, always disguised; telling it needs to be so. All draining the jungle like the Amazon does (brining life to it). Curious…very curious. This could end quite well for all and poorly for some.

Here’s the hilarious part: most of this transfer of public research into private hands is undertaken through the provisions of the Bayh-Dole act. That same act imposes a duty on the US government to ensure that the “utilization and benefits” of that research should be “made available to the public on reasonable terms.” In other words, the state is legally obliged to seize these drugs, price them at a reasonable level, and make them available to the public.

So, doesn’t this mean that when President Sanders appoints someone as Secretary of Health and Human Services who actually cares about the people, the department could simply rule that a whole slate of drugs need to be “made available to the public on reasonable terms,” without need of congressional approval?

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Ah, Rife machines. Like laetrile, but with voltage.
https://www.quackwatch.org/04ConsumerEducation/News/rife.html

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Welcome6

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Natural healing is the most powerful. But Practioners are unnecessary and generally rip people off for what they can easily do for themselves.

The pre-Druids knew that a tea made from grinding your own toenail clippings and royal jelly can ameliorate almost all health problems. From rampant cell growth to viral infections to so-called auto immune disease. Which is truly just metaphysical in nature.

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tenor

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I’ll bet the tea had to be made from the toenail clippings of the head priest; your own wouldn’t work.

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No - break down the hierarchies!!!

They do have to be clipped during the waxing gibbous moon and preparation is exacting. An iron mortar and pestle- a brass tea ball - and a ceremony.

Not terribly difficult- and you can read all about it in my leather bound heirloom quality book. On sale this week!

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Having worked in pharma for 20+ years, I can tell you its very easy to make a small fortune in biotech.

First, start with a large fortune…

Seriously, though, there’s so much wrong with the whole public pays for drug R&D trope. I highly recommend the “In The Pipeline” blog for anyone truly interested in the fascinating world of drug discovery process…here’s a post on this very subject.

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The patent system is supposed to serve the public interest, with private interests benefitting generally only as much as needed to serve the public interest. We have lost sight of the purpose of the system.

Also, we have the US subsidizing drug research for the rest of the world. We should make US patents conditional on agreeing not to price the drugs higher in the US than in other developed countries. If they don’t like that, then they don’t have to take out a US patent.

Oddly I really believe the solution to this is to reverse the FDA ruling that doesn’t allow old medicine to be made until a new study is done on it. There are a host of generic non-patent medicines that are no longer made because they require a lengthy process to ‘re-validate’ them - these are drugs that have been around for decades. Not only does that mean they can’t be used as a first option over the ‘super expensive’ patent drug - but it also means that there is no competition on price for similar drugs either.

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If any government money touches development, then that development shouldn’t be patentable, or otherwise the patent should be given to the government.

Just want to point out a couple of big errors that every critique in this area prat falls into…

First, the NIH budget is $33bn/yr. That’s the entire budget, which includes intramural research at Bethesda, plus all the admin and oversight, public health programs and promotion, etc. Less than half of that total goes to the institutes for distribution as grants to University-based academic researchers such as myself.

Second, not even a tiny fraction of the part going to research is actually for PHARMACEUTICAL research. A lot of it goes to basic biochemical knowledge, understanding how biology works. A good chunk of it goes on clinical trials to discover best-practices in medicine (does hand washing change infection rates in hospitals, etc.) Only a small part goes into research that actually discovers and develops novel drugs.

Third, the notion that academia is churning out clinic-ready drugs and pharma companies just swoop in and take the profits, is pure horse-shit and terribly naive! As an academic, I can give you a drug that will cure a disease in mice. But, the cost to take that experimental drug and turn it into something that’s safe in humans is billions of dollars. In my area of research, the gold standard is a surgical model is in pigs, and it costs about $10k per pig. There are only 3 labs in the country that have all the pieces in place to do this properly. With a $250k/yr research grant from the NIH that funds my entire research program, I’m not about to blow it all on 25 pigs and have nothing left to pay salaries!

Bottom line, there’s a ceiling in drug development that academia gets you to, and someone (pharma) with more money HAS to come along and take the reins to get the drug into patients. The R&D budgets for big pharma have been shrinking, but they still spend 2-3x the total NIH budget (i.e. 10-15x what the NIH actually spends on pharma research).

And before the inevitable “shill” responses come in, I’m a faculty member engaged in basic biochemical research at a University. I have absolutely zero holdings, shares, equity or any other interest in the pharmaceutical industry. No speaker panels or advisory boards, no conflicts of interest, no collaborations with the drug industry, nothing. I just do my research, and maybe one day someone in pharma will read my papers and reach-out to take one of my discoveries into the clinic. If that happens, I will probably be offered equity in whatever company does so, and I will gladly take it because I’m sure as hell not getting rich from being in academia. If you want to change the system, consider paying academics more so they don’t have to “sell out” when big pharma comes knocking!

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I’ve read this three times and still cannot tell if this is sarcasm or sincerity.

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Around here, we call that the @KathyPadilla Effect.

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A worthwhile wrinkle to add is that the NIH does have clinical trial-enabling RFAs out there, so there’s at least regulatory form (if not content). They may be more mythical than real, however, as I’ve thrown a few R01s at them and gotten slaughtered for not having GLP-quality ADMEtox…which I’m really not sure where I’m supposed to get done given the limitations of basic bio grants.

The last heir to that throne died, of cancer.

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