Pfizer threatens pharmacists, doctors with patent suits if they take its name in vain


#1

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#2

How are they going to know if a doctor does this? They won’t. I say f*ck em and let the doctors prescribe what they want.


#3

Leave it to big business to actively seek out another level of douchery. Don’t they have PR guys to tell them how this one’s going to look in the light of day?


#4

Pfuck Pfizer.


#5

That wouldn’t fly in the US, and I’m really surprised it does in the EU.


#6

Are you joking? Pharma owns the US Congress. When the Medicare Part D law was passed, they actually made it illegal for the government to negotiate volume discounts. But only to protect the seniors, of course.


#7

As I understand it, in the US patents only affect the creation and sales of products, not their use. If this is incorrect, I’ll welcome a correction.


#8

Unless the medical privacy laws of the jurisdiction are damned ironclad, it might not actually be that difficult…

At least in the US, it is far more common than one would like for drug companies(and possibly other interested parties) to tap every plausible source of information(pharmacies, any third parties involved in electronic prescription transfers, etc.) to build dossiers on doctors’ prescribing habits, in order to better…cultivate customer relationships…

Depending on how good those data are in the UK, they could get a ratio of generic/name-brand prescription, and judge it against expected rates of the condition for which it is patented and not patented within a given doctor’s area of practice. Maybe Rupert Murdock’s sleazy private eyes could help out.

It really depends on how many bridges they are willing to burn(and state inquiries aimed at calming the public and/or saving the NHS money) they are willing to risk. The inferential attacks to identify plausible targets, followed by financially ruinous harassment-by-lawsuit is the easy bit. The question is whether they’ll be willing to risk the possible blowback.


#9

Ah, Big Pharma. Can’t say too much against them, since they did fund my childhood…

I do remember the Losec/Nexium malarkey a few years ago when when the patent ran out, they basically tried to patent the mirror image drug and claim it was more effective than a mixture of the two by using some dodgy studies…


#10

Our data protection laws are, or were, pretty good; though unfortunately, the gov’t decided selling all our medical data would be a really nifty plan. I’d happily accept the loss of some lovely architecture in return for a good-sized meteor strike on the Houses of Parliament given my druthers…


#11

No, that’s not correct - US patents can cover one of four things:

  1. a novel composition of matter
  2. the novel manufacture of that composition of matter
  3. a novel machine used in the manufacture of a composition of matter
  4. a novel method of use of a machine or composition of matter

#12

I meant in the sense of what they prohibit or allow, not patentability.


#13

This argument is so painful I may need some pregabalin. rimshot

But in the US I would be surprised if this held up legally.

" The practice, called “off-label” prescribing, is entirely legal and very common. More than one in five outpatient prescriptions written in the U.S. are for off-label therapies."

Source: webmd


#14

We need molecular assemblers (or at least ad-hoc 3d-printed <a href=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microreactor">microreactors, already a partially existing tech). Then we can get the big pharma (and possibly even the docs, and certainly the govt and its imposed limits to presc stuff access) out of the loop.


#15

Is amusing a cat with a laser pointer still under patent?


#16

Even if the legal argument did hold, it wouldn’t change the legal status of off-label prescription(pretty much any MD can prescribe basically anything for anything, within the limits of ‘that’s too crazy/risky, my malpractice coverage will drop me’ and ‘if I prescribe too much of that the DEA will think I’m running a pill mill’). It would just change whether or not (legally) writing that prescription exposed the doctor to civil liability in a suit by Pfizer or not.

As for that, no idea.


#17

This blog post seems legit

Nexium’s Dirty Little Secret. Don’t discount chirality; it’s what caused the Thalidomide disaster. Although…

What’s also interesting to me (which I did not know until I was reading up for this post), is that omeprazole and esomeprazole are technically prodrugs: the ingested compound is not actually the active molecule. Under acidic conditions (like in gastric acid), omeprazole is converted to a tetracyclic cation which is then covalently bound to ATPase:

Note that the tetracycle is achiral – it has no stereocenters, sulfur or otherwise. So whether you take the chiral esomeprazole or the racemic omeprazole, both are converted to the same achiral tetracycle. Again something to note if you’re taking the optically pure version of the drug.


#18

Yeah, and that is what makes that letter so tone deaf. Considering that civil litigation in the US and UK comes down to “how much is each party willing to spend” and you can civilly sue for almost anything, the intent and logic is just tortured.

And lastly, it is my opinion (not fact, case law, or precedent–simply opinion) that IP shouldn’t be a gating factor in human health. That concept is so evil it makes me want to throw things.


#19

On the other hand, Pfizer has to invest in the development of new drugs. The more revenue they get from their product, the better will be the drugs in the future. I take Carbamazapine for epilepsy, but it can also be prescribed for trigeminal neuralgia. I buy the Tegretol product from Novartis, partly because its what I have always taken, and partly because the price advantage of using the generic product isn’t very great where I live.

But I am aware that if Novartis didn’t make enough money off Tegretol, they wouldn’t make it and my life would be much more limited than it is right now.


#20

With that, also take a lesson from the basement chemists always evolving designer drug endeavors. Alter the molecule just slightly to sidestep the law. In this case patent law rather than criminal drug law.