Goldman Sachs report: "Is curing patients a sustainable business model?"


The situation here is less one-sided – Universities get a share of patentable work developed by faculty. One instance I know of (locally) is one of our biology professors (Etscorn) invented the nicotine patch, and the rather sizable royalties are shared between him and the University. He’s a great fellow, BTW; along with the University’s share he endowed an observatory for public education. At last word he’s trying to get it renamed for the gent who got him interested in the night sky, who died early last year.


Because taxes demotivate the rich. If after taxes they only made 2 billion in profits, they would decide it is not worth it, quit working, and live off welfare.


True, sadly. Full disclosure: I was a pharma rep.

So, how do pharma companies survive when they spend more on ads than on research? Could it be because it is helluva lot cheaper and certain to market me-too drugs than to do actual drug development? And, when you have a low-cost me-too drug, you can afford to undercut the true novel drug on insurance formularies.

Pharma companies should be in the drug development business, not the knock-off business. Maybe we should get rid of generic drugs or knock-offs but mandate med insurers pay all pharmacy costs 100%. Let them deal with hammering out discounts, like they do for all the rest of medical care, and make the risk of a pharma company to develop real breakthroughs less risky?


Oh, if only we had some sort of publicly funded research facilities already, full of very smart people, willing to work on behalf of the public good in developing treatments for various diseases! Sadly, that’s never existed in America, especially not during the Cold War where these institutions received public funding to both train the next generation of researchers AND to do work on behalf of the public.


Oh, the HORRORS! That people that do the work get some benefit from it. I mean, much better to hand that over to a larger, privately held corporation that has no sort of accountability to the public!


Except someone else developed the cure for B, and there’s no reason to think that people who developed A are more likely to develop B. I’m sorry, this strikes me as more of a reach than a serious criticism.

Havn’t you ever walked through a pharmacy? They already do that.

I don’t see the flaw. Assume 10k people per year develop a genetic condition and they live on average for 30 years.

That means you start out with a pool of 300,000 patients to cure and you make a big pile of money. But the moment that’s done you’re only selling 10k cures a year.

I think it was pursuing high-incidence diseases like cancer.

I think something like this is the answer. Possibly even just beefing up Universities and government research labs a bunch to reduce the role of pharma in R&D.

Despite all the moralizing here Goldman Sachs is simply pointing out a simple economics problem, if your cure doesn’t make enough money to justify the development costs you’re not going to exist as a business.


Or do research into drugs that give us super powers! Now how cool would that be?


Don’t we already have Scotch whiskey? And Viagra.


Completely agree:

This is a very strong argument for heavily taxing the profits of pharma companies’ investors and other one percenters, and then turning the money over to publicly funded scientific research that eschews all patents, and which is made available for free under the terms of the Access To Medicines treaty.

Corporations are great for kick starting new areas, but once they find a Public Good, they must be transitioned to a not-for-profit governmental agency. This process takes the “corporate beast.”

This lack of regulation and taxation is at the heart of much of the current dysfunction in US society.


“…the extreme libertarian conception of owing nothing to your neighbor save the equilibrium established by your mutual selfishness…”

There it is: the most succinct possible statement of Kochian pathological libertarianism.


“How do we turn the human body into more of a subscription-based business model?”


Beg to differ, the report isn’t talking about drugs and treatments that don’t make money, it’s talking about drugs and treatments that don’t make enough money to satisfy the insatiable greed of the pharma industry and their capitalist backers.


Sire, the peasants are revolting. Short of abdication, here are the best strategies for preserving your head.


I generally agree with the sentiment, but do realize the cost of that is that locations that have some strikes against them (say already economically troubled) then have absolutely nothing to offer to persuade companies to move there, leading to a classic “the rich get richer” situation.

Complex problems are… complex. Any chosen policy will have harmful consequences - but it’s useful to acknowledge those harmful consequences in advance.


They should die and reduce the surplus population.


To be frank, sometimes towns fade away. That’s a better solution than having companies jump ship until they get tax free status for the next 100 years (already happening).

A town in trouble isn’t doing itself any good to take a business that pays nothing back to the town - short term there could be growth - but growth requires more spending - and when your biggest business doesn’t pay taxes and will leave the second they might have to, then you are a slave to ‘making them happy’ - and when it comes time to fix the roads (businesses use trucks for goods, results in 70% of the road use and decay) or build the new school you raise taxes on your families, and eventually people get pissed and then vote against taxes, the death spiral is only lengthened.

California showed all this - when Jerry Brown came back and fixed the state budget - twice over. Each time he did it by laying it out on the table and asking people to spend money to fix the problem, because in the end - having cash in hand is the only way to do it - just wishing problems go away or kicking the can down the road doesn’t actually help (imagine that).


This is the tricky bit. How do you make it worthwhile to kick start new areas if we take over the winnings?

Of course public funding is the obvious solution, but most of the world doesn’t seem to be all that thrilled about paying higher taxes for research that will almost certainly fail. I’d not want to be the politician campaigning on raising taxes to fund research labs. Already most government grant agencies demand to know what you’ll discover before they’ll fund you.

(Basic research seems a public research strength, but that’s not where the billions in investment are required.)

So how do you convince companies (and the people who fund them) to gamble billions when we want to take over their winnings if they get lucky?

I don’t have an answer to that one (at least not in a democracy). Do you?

On an unrelated note, I’d happy pillory G-S for the many evils they actually do. But in this case, it seems here that their main crime is pointing out the reasoning that is already occurring in both companies and government.

I’d rather see this addressed in the open that simply decided behind closed doors.


I’d agree. But I will say that in the USA, where there’s often a racial element to which towns and cities are having a difficult time, this can be seen as simply re-enforcing privilege.

Anyway, I’d generally agree with you and in any “bidding” environment, there will be parties that overbid, so I would say that we’re better off forbidding bidding than not. But I think honesty demands that we acknowledge that we are choosing to sacrifice the most desperate for the betterment of the whole.

We can all acknowledging the good of our preferred policies. But it’s the ability to clearly acknowledge the cost that makes us adults.


(Same as with elbow.)

Obligatory Viv Stanshall: Sir Henry at Rawlinson End quote…
Reg Smeeton (resident pub know-it-all at The Fool & Bladder): “DId you know there is no proper name for the back of the knee?”