The other 99%: blockbuster drug profit margins!


Yeah, it’s a lot.

  1. it cures hep C in most people

  2. they paid $11 BILLION to get the compound when it was only phase 2 and took the risk to bring it to market

  3. assuming it cures most of the rich world hep C (market will eventually dry up), and they can’t charge nearly so much for it in Asia where there is tons of hep C

  4. Gilead is not going to come out all that far ahead on this one, even at that price.

Plus, in a year there will likely be one if not two competitors on the market. Gregg will certainly consider dropping the price then.


“Those who are bold and go out and innovate like this and take the risk — there needs to be more of a reward on that,” he says. “Otherwise, it would be very difficult for people to make that investment.”

Profiting off death and misery is the only way to get people into the death and misery business.


If we didn’t give tens of millions of tax dollars to drug companies every year, they would never be willing to make themselves absurdly rich and famous by creating drugs people want to buy. It’s just common sense - wake up sheeple!


I say let them charge what the market will bear. Since it costs more to treat people with chronic Hep C than to cure them with this new regimen, this is actually a bargain. Why fault Gilead for being motivated by profit to make the investment and put in the hard work to make this treatment a reality?

I guess being wealthy enough to point at any tangible thing on the planet and being able to buy two of them isn’t reward enough. Gotta keep those numbers going up, up, up or it’s just not worth the effort.

I don’t question that these companies have the right to recoup their research costs. But if the article is accurate that the $84,000 cost of a full treatment would pay off their investment with 150,000 patients and there are 34 million people that need the cure, they’re being absurdly greedy.

I wonder if these guys saw the movie Elysium as a manual because that seems to be the kind of class split they’re striving to manufacture.


To me the $11 Billion figure is the problem with modern medicine. Is that what it cost to develop the drug? No. It’s the amount of profit the drug is expected to make over its lifetime. Now it has to be expensive for the duration of the patent because the money has already changed hands, and it was in no way related to the price of development or production, it how much they thought they could wring from insurance companies and the general public.

The result is skyrocketing healthcare costs that are bankrupting the country.


Square that with:

Graham says she thinks once Gilead has recovered its investment cost, it ought to cut the price of sofosbuvir.

It’s the fallacy of sunk cost, in slightly different clothing. Once you’ve recovered your costs, you’ve recovered your costs, everything after that is pure profit. The “cost” of risk has been paid for by the risk itself netting a profit. They’re not basing this on rational supply-and-demand, but it’s rather yet another form of irrational exuberance, It may end up costing them money in the long run.


Market? Do you have any idea how totally artificial the market in pharmaceuticals is? It’s massively subsidized by tax dollars, and also insurance dollars.

As one small example, when the Medicare Part D law was passed, it was a golden opportunity for the US Government to negotiate with pharma companies to get bulk discounts for seniors - you know, free market stuff.

So the law was written to explicitly forbid such bargaining. The government is required by law to pay whatever price manufacturers choose. They then pass the cost along to us, through both taxes and insurance companies.

Free market? Only when your campaign contributions buy you some “freedom,” it seems.


Jeremiah 8:22 goes here.


The money they make from sofosbuvir has to cover not only its own development costs but also its fair share of the development costs on all their unsuccessful drugs as well – and assuming it’s their most successful new drug in recent history, then its fair share is a lot.


Oh well then that’s totally cool then.

They totally deserve to earn 2.8 trillion dollars to cure everyone on the planet of hep c, I sure hope that pittance covers all their failed experiments!


It’s only under patent for ~15 years, so they’ve got to milk it for whatever they can. In 15 years, anyone will be able to make it and sell it cheap. I’m not saying there’s not a lot wrong with how we do drug research, but the fact that there’s always a (justifiable) inclination to make companies sell life saving drugs cheap is part of why we see more research into pattern baldness cures than new antibiotics. Nobody is going to call for them to be forced to sell Rogaine or Viagra cheap on humanitarian grounds.

Sure, it’s only under patent for ~15 years, it’s not like Hep C kills folks. Those dying of it can wait ~15 years, right?


You didn’t address the part about how the drug wouldn’t exist if they hadn’t invented it, and developing drugs like this is less attractive to companies than making frivolous drugs if they’re made to sell these ones cheap. The ethics involved are more complicated than you seem to think. It might be better if we funded drug research all the way through NIH, and/or made the FDA testing requirements less onerous, but both of those, especially the second one, have a host of issues associated with them and are not simple black and white issues either. I’m not happy with how we deal with drug companies, or, really with any part of how we run our healthcare system in America, but all of the issues involved (except that the insurance companies are evil, blood-sucking, parasites) are complicated, and dealing with them by going with your first gut instinct, expressed in a single snide sentence (or anything else that can be expressed in a single sentence, except that the insurance companies are evil, blood-sucking, parasites) is going to result in unintended consequences.

This. Anyone who thinks something like an HIV/AIDs cure wouldn’t cost a fortune is playing ignorant. If the treatment is already expensive then the cure will be just a margin less expensive.

Whilst you most surely have a point, that is eerily reminiscent of a Music Industry lawyer is it not? They could use it to justify charging a week’s wages for stadium tickets. Oh, god, I’m doing their work for them.

Could we just stop building dumb, boring, old tech like F22s and spend the money on cool futuristic stuff like laser plane? Or we could stop building AS many weapons and just pay for this anyways.

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That snide sentence was born out of ten years of floor nursing and seeing people actually die from the disease. It’s a helluva lot easier to sit back and pontificate from your armchair about all this, when you haven’t had to actually sit next to someone when they die.

In the end, if someone will die without it, all this philosophical economics is crap. A person’s life is worth way more than a corporations sense of financial entitlement.


Unfortunately, that time limit can be expanded if the drug companies find a way to re-patent a drug (link):

Asthma inhalers, for example, are protected by strings of patents — for pumps, delivery systems and production processes — that are hard to skirt to make generic alternatives, even when the medicines they contain are old, as they almost all are.

The repatenting of older drugs like some birth control pills, insulin and colchicine, the primary treatment for gout, has rendered medicines that once cost pennies many times more expensive.

The link also mentions that drug companies have paid generic drug companies to delay the release of generic drugs.

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