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[P]
The War on Drugs

By skyknight in Op-Ed
Mon Oct 18, 2004 at 04:21:57 AM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

No, not those drugs...


There has been plenty of talk about the prescription drug problem, but no wholly thoughtful solution proffered by anyone. Every idea propounded by various ideologues makes fanciful assumptions about key components of the equation, utterly refusing to answer hard questions about long term consequences and sustainability.

Some people fall into the camp of thinking that the ownership of ideas is inviolate, and that the first person to think of an idea ought to exercise god like powers over it. This seems to neglect the fact that concepts of intellectual property are strictly human constructs, and furthermore that ownership in general is part of the social contract. In this regard, the problem with prescription drugs is the monopolistic nature of patent law, both necessary and evil, apparently. Researchers need to recoup their investment, but at the same time their exercising total control over distribution is not at all in sync with the notions of free market competition. There is, by definition, no competition, unless other companies can somehow obtain a patent on a different drug that has similar properties. Under these auspices, there can be no gravitation of prices towards a fair market value, and thus profit maximization will be capped only by what the market will bear.

Then there are those who think that the US ought to allow importation from Canada. These people claim that they are supporting the "free market" principle of competition, pitting retailers from various countries against one another. Of course, this is ludicrous. Foreign countries impose price control on drugs by fiat, decreeing that wholesalers may not charge retailers more than an artificially set price, and capping the retail price as well. There is no way for American retailers to compete with foreign retailers as their price from wholesalers is not capped by government mandate. Furthermore, this will cause drug manufacturers to limit their supply to foreign countries that act as redistribution centers, likely having a negative impact on consumers within the countries that harbor the redistributors. Quite simply, in this scenario the redistributors act as parasites on the systems enacted to ensure affordable drugs for the citizens of their host countries. In the end, nobody wins.

This of course brings us to the argument that the US ought to fight fire with fire by imposing price controls of its own. This would put American drug retailers on even ground with foreign retailers, thus obviating the cross-border flow of drugs. While this might provide cheap drugs in the present, it would be disastrous in the long term. According to a study by Tufts University, the cost to develop a new prescription drug is a whopping $802M. Someone has to foot the bill.

In the present arrangement, the US pays the lion's share. Were it, too, to impose price controls, then this would make recouping research costs for drugs nearly impossible. As much as various other nations love to brag about the affordability of drugs for their citizens, they always seem to neglect to mention that this is the result of free riding off of US citizens who are purchasing the same drugs at dramatically higher prices. There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch, and Americans are perpetually picking up the tab for other peoples' trips to the pharmacy.

This is culminating in a seething resentment among American drug purchasers who cannot afford the drugs that they need. For every dollar they spend on pills, a significant fraction of it goes to subsidize the below market prices of foreign countries, the end result being less treatment for themselves, or other lines being dropped from their personal budgets. They will not abide this forever, and present political rumblings are evidence thereof.

The present system is not just, and the terrible truth of the matter is that the only way that things will get better is probably for them first to get worse. The politicians of other countries are not willing to cede ground, raising the price caps on drugs, as it would be political suicide. On the other side of the divide, the politicians of America cannot continue to ignore the fulminations of their constituency about being bled for the benefit of other countries. Something has to give, and regrettably it will almost certainly be US politicians assenting to the demands of US consumers. Cooperation would be nice, but brinkmanship is the far more likely route in the arena of international jousting. We are all playing chicken with pharmaceutical research, hoping that someone else will break first.

This does not bode well for the development of future drugs. As predatory as some drug manufacturers may be in exercising their patents, they do have a valid point in that drug research is expensive, that these costs must somehow be recouped, and risk rewarded, if research firms are to continue to bring forth new medicines. Alas, all consumers are copping a Not In My Back Yard attitude toward the financial burden of drug research.

The collective stubbornness of the whole human species means that in the long run, we all lose. Every combatant in the ring will stand his ground, mortgaging his future and his neighbors' alike, trading better drugs in the future for affordable crap today.

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The War on Drugs | 295 comments (272 topical, 23 editorial, 1 hidden)
Your conclusions depend on debatable assumptions. (3.00 / 9) (#1)
by mcc on Sat Oct 16, 2004 at 01:46:46 PM EST

There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch, and Americans are perpetually picking up the tab for other peoples' trips to the pharmacy.

One problem with this article is that it has an assumption that there is a direct relationship between the operating costs of drug companies and their prices.

This is not necessarily accurate. I would propose that a more accurate description of things would be that drug companies set their prices as high as they can get away with without driving away customers. This would make it questionable whether Americans would be paying any less for prescription drugs were the drug companies getting more money elsewhere.

According to a study by Tufts University, the cost to develop a new prescription drug is a whopping $802M. Someone has to foot the bill.

Another problem with this article is that it has an assumption there is a direct relationship between funds available to drug companies and amount of drug research performed.

This is more valid as an assumption, but not wholly accurate either. In reality the situation is complicated by a number of things, for example the fact that commercial drug development is subsidized by the U.S. government on a large scale in the form of university arrangements which result in public funds being used for research where the end product becomes the intellectual property of a private entity. Meanwhile, research is only part of a drug company budget; this source says that by the numbers in their SEC filings, 14% of the drug industry's revenues go toward R&D. The exact nature of the impact that fluctuations in drug company revenues would have on absolute drug company expenditure on research is by no means certain.

I'm not sure that we disagree... (none / 0) (#3)
by skyknight on Sat Oct 16, 2004 at 03:21:28 PM EST

as much as you might think...

You said...

a more accurate description of things would be that drug companies set their prices as high as they can get away with without driving away customers

whereas I said...

under these auspices, there can be no gravitation of prices towards a fair market value, and thus profit maximization will be capped only by what the market will bear

I don't see much difference. Also, I think that it is too strong an assertion to say that "there is a direct relationship between funds available to drug companies and amount of drug research performed", but certainly the two are linked.

I furthermore agree with your laments about private patents standing on the shoulders of public funding. Government coffers should see ROI for the research they perform that becomes marketized, or tax payers should see a reduction in cost, or some hybrid approach. The fact that we both have patent law which is monopolistic and public funding for drug research, would seem to me to be rather stupid. If there were competition, then the problem wouldn't exist, as prices would be driven down to some level slightly above what it cost to develop the drugs, which had been driven down by public funding. Right now, all public funding does is increase the margins of drug companies.

As with all things economic, there is indeed a great deal of uncertainty. I don't claim to have complete solutions. I do, however, feel obligated to smack people down when they stupid things that are patently false or short-sighted, which comprises most of the present day mainstream political discourse regarding prescription drugs.



It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
Remove R&D (none / 0) (#11)
by Ogygus on Sat Oct 16, 2004 at 05:28:06 PM EST

I furthermore agree with your laments about private patents standing on the shoulders of public funding. Government coffers should see ROI for the research they perform that becomes marketized, or tax payers should see a reduction in cost, or some hybrid approach.

Since there is currently a certain percentage of total R&D that is publicly funded, would it not make sense to simply make 100% of it publicly funded and then not allow patenting of the resultant drugs? Sell the formulation for a set amount to any companies interested in manufacturing the drug (recouping some taxpayers money) and then allow the market to set prices based on quality and price. Problem solved. It would end up costing taxpayers about the same up front and actually save them money once the cost of buying the drugs is factored in.

The mice will see you now.
[ Parent ]
By that logic... (none / 0) (#12)
by skyknight on Sat Oct 16, 2004 at 05:35:57 PM EST

we should publicly fund the development of all intellectual property, only allowing for manufacture of physical instantiations of intellectual property to be private.

For example, the government would write all software, and then private companies would compete to see who could burn CDs and print boxes at the best price. Obviously it's the packaging that differentiates the quality of software.

Hell, why even bother with private companies at all. I'm sure that anything the private sector can do government can do better.



It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
No, the logic does not carry. (none / 0) (#27)
by mcc on Sat Oct 16, 2004 at 07:14:30 PM EST

Medical technology is a special case among all types of intellectual property because the public good is directly impacted in a manner totally unparalleled in any other kind of intellectual property. This can be seen in the fact that public funding for medical research is already so high.

[ Parent ]
Or maybe... (none / 0) (#32)
by skyknight on Sat Oct 16, 2004 at 07:42:21 PM EST

we're just really bad at judging the relative importance or risk of things.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
Apples to oranges, patents to copyrights /nt (none / 0) (#30)
by ksandstr on Sat Oct 16, 2004 at 07:38:39 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Nonsense (none / 1) (#104)
by pyro9 on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 07:47:58 PM EST

we should publicly fund the development of all intellectual property, only allowing for manufacture of physical instantiations of intellectual property to be private.

I believe the suggestion was that publicly funded research should be handled that way. If the pharmaceutical companies want to foot the bill for their own research, they would still be welcome to do so and could own that.

As it is now, the public does the heavy lifting and then hands it all over to private interests (who certainly are NOT poor) like some bizarre Santa Claus for megacorps. The private interests then show their gratitude by pricing the drugs out of the reach of a significant portion of the very same public.

We can't stop public research since if left to their own, the drug companies will produce 20 zillion minor varients hair and erection pills and few if any life saving drugs.

In other words, the public should own what the public pays for.


The future isn't what it used to be
[ Parent ]
No... (none / 0) (#153)
by Ogygus on Mon Oct 18, 2004 at 08:19:16 PM EST

we should publicly fund the development of all intellectual property

Only when a persons life hinges on their ability to pay. Those who sneer at other peoples lack of income have a social problem. Those who have insufficient funds to purchase life saving medicine have a totally different problem. In the eyes of most normal human beings the one problem will take precedence over the other.

The mice will see you now.
[ Parent ]
There is no slope more slippery... (none / 0) (#155)
by skyknight on Mon Oct 18, 2004 at 08:51:01 PM EST

than trying to define "need".

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
That May Be (none / 0) (#190)
by Ogygus on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 11:03:19 AM EST

But to divide a population into two groups, one who will not die and another that will die with the dividing line based totally on economic ability to pay is simply not human. It is greed and inhumanity at its finest. Why not simply go to the next logical step and save time and trouble. Just start feeding the poor into the furnaces. It would save the bleeding heart liberals from whining about the plight of the poor unfortunates. While we're at it we could feed the liberals into the furnace at the same time.

The slope truly is slippery. In both directions.

The mice will see you now.
[ Parent ]
We place dollar values on human life all the time. (none / 0) (#194)
by skyknight on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 12:11:44 PM EST

You just don't realize it, but it's all about trade offs. Whenever we build safety into a system, there is a trade off being calculated. We could make perfectly safe cars that wouldn't kill anybody, but they would have a foot thick foam exterior, and only go ten miles an hour on the high way. Unsurprisingly, we don't do this. Why not? Well, in the US we value being able to travel quickly, comfortable and in style more than we value the fifty thousand people who are killed in traffic accidents every year. We could make perfectly secure computers, but they would come without a network connection or any media readers. Why don't we have these computers? They would be useless, is why.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
How Does This Apply? (none / 0) (#207)
by Ogygus on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 04:24:21 PM EST

Tax money subsidizes corporate profit and we're supposed to just shut up and accept it? When people die because they can't afford medication for their condition because the shareholders want a better return on their investment, who would think this is a reasonable tradeoff? Who is it convenient for? The person who is dying? The person with capital invested? What price a human life?

The dollar value of human life? Greed, ignorance and sheer selfishness are no excuse. For 1/4 of the $$$ spent avenging the 3800 people who died in 9/11, the US could have retrofitted all of the cars and trucks on the road with breath alcohol immobilizers, thereby saving the lives of over 12,000 people killed in drinking driving accidents EVERY YEAR! Instead, someone made the choice to line the pockets of a few corporations and kill additional thousands of people. How is this a logical choice? Where is the tradeoff here?

The mice will see you now.
[ Parent ]
Heh... Breath alcohol analyzers? (none / 0) (#208)
by skyknight on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 04:37:38 PM EST

How the hell would that work? There is no way such a system could be implemented securely.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
No Idea (none / 0) (#210)
by Ogygus on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 05:29:21 PM EST

Point is that the $100 plus billion spent ensuring that "Never Again" for 9/11 and those 3800 people could have been better spent on a program like this if the concern truly was the value of human life. It never was. It was all about special interests and who gets the money. Consider that just on raw numbers that as a US citizen you are four times as likely to die in a drinking driving accident than you are in a terrorist attack. How do you then justify that $100 billion? Especially when you consider that if anything it has increased your likelyhood of dying in a terrorist attack.

The mice will see you now.
[ Parent ]
When did I ever say the War on Terror... (none / 1) (#211)
by skyknight on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 05:48:42 PM EST

was rational? It's based on sensational politics, not shrewd utilitarian calculations. There are plenty of better ways we could have spent our finite resources. Actually, there was plenty of shrewd calculation being done, but it was calculated to increase the odds of re-election and to curry favors, not to make the population attain greater safety.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
Better solution.... (none / 1) (#148)
by ajdecon on Mon Oct 18, 2004 at 06:27:48 PM EST

We really don't need the government funding all drug research: while it may be the government's place to help cure AIDS, tax money shouldn't go towards Viagra and similar drugs.

A better way of doing it would be to say that for any drug developed primarily using public funding, the patent would only last five years after FDA approval. This would give the drug companies an incentive to stay involved, as most of the R&D is government funded and they're still allowed to make some amount of profit; but it guarantees that the intellectual property is released fairly quickly to the world at large.


--
"Science is a way of trying not to fool yourself."
-Richard Feynman
[ Parent ]
Incidentally... (none / 0) (#4)
by skyknight on Sat Oct 16, 2004 at 03:28:55 PM EST

since it's a slow day and nobody else is giving editorial feedback, do you see any reason not to put this in the voting queue? I think grammatically and orthographically it's fine. Now people just need to tell me why my philosophy/politics/logic/etc is whacked.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
Dude... (none / 0) (#76)
by mcgrew on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 12:12:29 PM EST

EDITORIAL COMMENT
thank you. hand.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

This kind of trolling is... (none / 0) (#78)
by skyknight on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 12:15:42 PM EST

becoming a dominant paradigm, yet I still don't grok it.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
Fascinating (2.66 / 3) (#5)
by antizeus on Sat Oct 16, 2004 at 03:50:37 PM EST

If the Canadian price for drugs won't cover research costs, then one wonders why they're selling drugs to Canada at all.
-- $SIGNATURE
The marginal cost is almost zero. (3.00 / 3) (#6)
by skyknight on Sat Oct 16, 2004 at 04:02:21 PM EST

It's in the interests of the drug company to sell to anyone outside the US that will give them more money than the cost of physically manufacturing the pills.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
technically yes, but (none / 1) (#8)
by Patrick2 on Sat Oct 16, 2004 at 04:49:42 PM EST

practically no. Purely from economic theory, you have a point. In reality the drug manufacturer realizes the threat of re-imports and marks up the price to a degree that mitigates that factor.
Remember the discussion between African nations and drug manufacturers about lowering the price of their anti AIDS drugs. If it was simply about marginal costs that discussion would have never taken place.

[ Parent ]
Because it will cover unit costs (none / 1) (#47)
by andersjm on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 03:24:58 AM EST

When setting the price for an already fully developed product, research costs are pretty much irrelevant.


[ Parent ]
Somewhat unique case (2.50 / 2) (#10)
by xria on Sat Oct 16, 2004 at 04:57:52 PM EST

I cant think of any other particular good business sector to compare this with, so just trying to analyse the drug industry as a whole:

Patents/Copyright afford protection for creators, this protection essentially amounts to creating a temporary monopoly to avoid their initial investment being appropriated by others duplicating their work for minimal costs.

To an extent we can therefore compare someone writing a book to someone making a new drug. They both have to invest heavily at the start to create the base product, but they can then sell it to many people each for a small cost. (Economically the good has a low/minimal marginal cost as you noted).

However assuming they are behaving according to base economic models they are trying to maximise their profits, so they will be price searching for the best level of profits, which might not necessarily be the most they can sell, if fact it might be far less than if they were attempting to maximise quantity of sales. It must be said many companies dont fit this assumption completely as demand is not a known value in the real world, so often they will err towards trying to sell more.

The difference between our two examples comes with the demand curve - for a book raising the price may fairly rapidly drop sales and beyond a certain level, probably around the average book price somewhere profits will start dropping. The potential buyers will either get another book, or something else completely.

The demand curve for a drug is likely to be much more inelastic though, as if it is relieving pain, protecting against disease/death or whatever, it is likely even it creates economic hardships most people will still keep buying until the price simply becomes unfeasible for them to pay.

Seeing as through copyright/Patent law the government has allowed the company a monopoly, and they have done so in an industry that has the potential to use that monopoly in abusive and unethical ways, regulating them so they do not seems a sensible precaution. One clear precaution would seem to be to limit the prices those companies can charge for their products.

However on the other side thats not to say that the prices being set now by governments outside the US might be too low. The problem here is that those governments have little reason to set the prices at an appropriate level - they might as well set them as low as they like, they will be popular for it. Thats really where the challenge lies, to find an acceptable median between the interests of the people that have invested in making the drug, and those that need it.

I think it's even more complicated than that... (none / 1) (#17)
by skyknight on Sat Oct 16, 2004 at 06:08:44 PM EST

There isn't so much a balance point for two competing interests, so much as a complex web of relationships. The worst part of it all is that these interactions experience significant latency, so it's very hard to predict how certain actions will propagate through the collection of relationships. Bad management of drug companies can take years to come to fruition (or the opposite of fruition, whatever that is). Bad governmental policy that starves future research in exchange for cheap drugs today cheats us out of good drugs ten or twenty years down the road. I think we are more or less doomed to live out a very suboptimal course of events.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
Fascinating. (none / 0) (#19)
by Esspets on Sat Oct 16, 2004 at 06:22:09 PM EST

...to use that monopoly in abusive and unethical ways...

Please elaborate.


Desperation.
[ Parent ]
Didnt think it was that complicated (none / 0) (#51)
by xria on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 10:08:36 AM EST

If a company had a drug that cured aids, and they charged $100,000 dollars per pill they sold because people with AIDs only have the option of buying at that price or dieing - as no competition is allowed from other companies due to the patents they hold.

If they believe people will do whatever it takes to get cured, they could see very high prices being the best way to make a profit, even if it means people put themselves massively in debt, sell all their assets, remortgage etc. to do so.

It should seem to be very dangerous to allow a company that is out to make profit, holding the power of life or death over someone, and to be doing so without any form of competition.

[ Parent ]

Of course... (none / 0) (#52)
by skyknight on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 10:38:26 AM EST

depending on the situation, one might be able to argue that the person would have faced certain death had the company not developed the drug. Does competence necessarily entail obligation? The argument might be a lot more gray were the patent more of a blocking patent, in that someone else would have shortly developed it anyway, but in the case where clearly nobody else was doing such research and had no reasonable expectation of finding a cure... It becomes a lot stickier. If I developed a piece of software that gave people 10% more free time in their lives (a highly contrived example, but whatever), would I be obligated to license this to people at a fixed price because someone decided that my software was so great that it would be a crime against humanity to withhold its benefits? I am very leery of compulsory licensing...

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
Generally a very gray area indeed (none / 0) (#62)
by xria on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 11:22:37 AM EST

Essentially a drug company getting a patent on a new drug makes it harder for any other company to make a drug to cure the same disease, as they need to ensure they dont infringe on the patent. I doubt there have been very many cases where a competing product has appeared during a patent for recently cured diseases, even though no doubt many companies are working on cures for common diseases at any time.

My personal preference is for drug companies to be profitable as a whole, which I believe they are, and fairly heavily regulated to ensure they cannot abuse their position and to minimise any mistakes or problems that might occur.

Pricing needs to be limited, but I dont think it needs to be priced so low everyone can afford it - because the government should be willing to step in and provide it for the most needy, rather than using their powers to just set the price so low. Allowing the price to be higher might also help limit the amount of people using it/doctors prescribing it 'just in case it might help', although clearly education and information is far more necessary in that area.


[ Parent ]

Interesting. (1.00 / 3) (#61)
by Esspets on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 11:21:59 AM EST

So, you suppose that individuals not resposible for people catching AIDS or some other lowlife disease that is caught from carelessness (sharing needles and performing sexual intercourse with other individuals without verification of their sexual activity while at the same time being aware of the AIDS issue) should foot the bill for it. The issue of AIDS, the "haves" and the "have nots" is completely absurd. It's like accusing someone of being a heartless bastard after you eat a log of shit and get sick.

It doesn't matter if your legs are melting, you are a liability and a drain on resources with no prospect of returns if you're afflicted with a disease and have no means to wield your own capital in order to keep yourself alive. If a corporation is capable of influencing government such that it isn't gutted by wortheless "have nots", then I full support their actions. They're actions of human animals of better quality. The thought of an AIDS cure costing $100,000 is hilarious to me. I wish it would happen just to watch the shitstorm.


Desperation.
[ Parent ]
Even from your twisted point of view (none / 0) (#253)
by jreilly on Thu Oct 21, 2004 at 11:43:00 AM EST

there are people with aids who don't "deserve it".

The people who got it from contaminated blood transfusions (not so many of those now, I'll admit). The people who got it because their spouse was cheating on them. The countless young women in Africa who fell victim to rapists who thought sex with a virgin would cure them.

I can't imagine what bizarre moral code you follow that makes these people responsible for having aid.

Oooh, shiny...
[ Parent ]
an un-PC tangential comment (3.00 / 6) (#15)
by Delirium on Sat Oct 16, 2004 at 05:49:31 PM EST

I don't think people actually need most of the prescription drugs they claim to need. There is a strong tendency in modern American society to medicalize all problems and prescribe a pill to solve them. A lot of people over 65 in the US are on a baffling array of prescription medications, and there's little evidence that taking these eight prescriptions a day actually increases the quality and length of their lives as compared to taking none of them, or maybe only two of them.

So, I don't really support public-policy efforts to pay for drugs, as this will simply further increase over-prescription. The high costs are one of the few factors applying the brakes on this pandemic, and we need to figure out ways to stop it.

I wholeheartedly agree... (none / 1) (#16)
by skyknight on Sat Oct 16, 2004 at 06:03:51 PM EST

People are incredibly bad at estimating the cost/benefit ratio of prescription drugs, and just tend to take everything under the sun that claims that it might help them. This has catastrophic results when you take away the cost inhibition, as people suddenly want to medicate everything. Combine this with the fact that we have a very poor knowledge of how drugs interact with one another, and it's a recipe for disaster.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
drugs (none / 1) (#22)
by debillitatus on Sat Oct 16, 2004 at 06:28:34 PM EST

So, I don't really support public-policy efforts to pay for drugs, as this will simply further increase over-prescription.

Perhaps. But certainly one of the reasons drugs are so over-prescribed is the pressure on doctors and HMOs from drug companies. If it weren't so profitable to generate drug-based solutions to every medical problem, perhaps drugs would only be developed when there was a clear need for them.

Damn you and your daily doubles, you brigand!
[ Parent ]

I agree with that as well (none / 0) (#23)
by Delirium on Sat Oct 16, 2004 at 06:34:15 PM EST

I don't oppose any public-policy healthcare proposals, just more narrowly the ones that only pay for prescription drugs while doing nothing to change the rest of the system. An example would be the "prescription drugs for the elderly" bills that both the Republican and Democratic parties proposed this last session (of which the Republican one passed). Those, IMO, are more harmful than no legislation.

I'd be okay with a government-funded health insurance that was parsimonious about which drugs it'd pay for, and generally reserved them as a last resort. I tend to like small governments, but one could hardly do worse than this quasi-governmental mess of HMOs and whatnot that we have already.

[ Parent ]

Evidence? (none / 0) (#28)
by trane on Sat Oct 16, 2004 at 07:23:29 PM EST

I don't think people actually need most of the prescription drugs they claim to need.

You seem to be going on intuition here, and assuming  "people" in general share your experiences, values, and general genetic make-up. That comes uncomfortably close to "legislating morality" in my opinion...

[ Parent ]

evidence goes the other way (none / 1) (#36)
by Delirium on Sat Oct 16, 2004 at 08:38:49 PM EST

For a drug to be worth paying for, there needs to be evidence that it is superior to no a placebo. For a combination of drugs to be worth paying for, there needs to be evidence that they are both superior to placebos, and to subsets of that combination (i.e. adding the extra drugs increases the efficacy of the combination as a whole). There is very little evidence for any of these.

Basically doctors are prescribing things that they have a hunch might be helpful, but no hard data saying so. In the worst cases, they're prescribing things they know probably aren't helpful, but which they think will satisfy their patients' demands to get something prescribed (this latter reason is why antibiotics are so overprescribed, as parents demand doctors prescribe antibiotics for their kid wh has a stomach flu).

Anyway, I'm not proposing we ban people from taking drugs, just that we not shift public policy so as to encourage them to take more of them. Government should not prohibit people from doing stupid things, I agree, but it doesn't need to encourage it.

[ Parent ]

heh (none / 1) (#106)
by trane on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 08:18:48 PM EST

This is the same argument given me by doctors whenever I ask them why there aren't tests available to measure the level of dopamine or other neurochemicals in the brain, that could be used on me, during my physical, for example. One in particular I'm thnking of said something very similar to what you said, that even if they had the tests there was no evidence yet that the levels of dopamine would be useful to them in prescribing treatment. Personally I think that's a cop-out; it seems obvious to me that if substances such as cocaine create an euphoric effect, and at the same time increased levels of dopamine are observed (and we even know that cocaine acts as a dopamine re-uptake inhibitor) - then if my dopamine levels are chronically depressed, that would be a strong indication that they should prescribe something (cocaine!) that would increase my dopamine levels. I'm betting the evidence will come, but by that time I may be dead...

As for public policy, the best thing that could be done in that arena is legalize drugs. People (such as myself) are trying to medicate themselves with controlled substances that, because of their illegality and the resultant control of distribution by unregulated street gangs, are cut with inhalants or inferior synthetic variations or poison even, which end up causing far more harm than the controlled substance itself. If you're worried about public expense due to drugs, legalization is the policy that would reduce that expense (and crime rate, etc.) the most...I can't prove that conclusively, but based on my experiences I'm pretty sure.

[ Parent ]

Way too much perscriptions these days... (2.50 / 2) (#95)
by araym on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 05:33:25 PM EST

One day a friend of mine was feeling a bit depressed and decided to go see a doctor (note he went to see a doctor not a psychiatrist) and they prescribed him some anti-depressants. Two years later he's on 3 or 4 perscriptions at any given time, sees the doctor every month, complains about feeling sick and tired constantly. This is someone who was generally happy a couple years ago he and was just having a down day, now he feels that all problems can be simply solved by medications. Not only that but he even started asking me about what surgeries "might help him" with "feeling bad" all the time. These days he will hardly even leave his house.

Although I'm sure some people really could use the anti-depressant type drugs I think the vast majority of people who take them really just need to deal with their problems. I was depressed for a long time (who hasn't at one point or another?) and eventually you get over it if you have a positive attitude and are getting things accomplished in your life. These medications turn people into zombies, and they become dependent on them.

-=-
SSM

[ Parent ]
it's a real mess with mental issues (none / 1) (#97)
by Delirium on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 06:01:53 PM EST

The "mental health" field is even more messed up than medicine in general, due to a combination of poor science, poor philosophy, and stupid politics.

The biggest contributor, IMO, is the rivalry between psychiatrists, who are MDs that specialize in mental health, and psychologists, who are generally people with PhDs in psychology. The former group is allowed to prescribe medication (being MDs), and the latter group isn't. This seems to lead to the MDs over-emphasizing the importance of medication in mental health, because the more important medication is, the more important they are (therapy and other things can be done by both groups).

There also seems to be a very poor understanding of the nature of mind among doctors (and of philosophy in general). The introduction to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (the DSM, a bible of sorts for the field) makes philosophical claims about the nature of mental illness that are laughably naive: without exaggeration, they feel that "mental idsorders" is a misnomer they reluctantly use for historical reasons, and that these ought to instead be called "brain diseases", and treated by psychiatrists in the exact same way that kidney diseases are treated by nephrologists. Now it may be true that there are some actual brain diseases, but to think that all mental illness can be distilled to something roughly analogous to a kidney disease is stupid, given the tremendous two-way and poorly understood interactions between brain and mind.

The fact that people tend to buy into this is the other major problem: fixing real problems is hard, and people really perk up and want to believe it's true when someone tells them they don't have to fix them, a pill can do it for them. Or perhaps even better, someone tells them it wasn't their problem in the first place, it was a brain disease that they have no more control over than they do over a kidney disease, and it's best to just let the doctor treat it.

There's also clinical evidence that this approach leads to poor results. The one study that comes to mind offhand (that I can dig up if anyone wants) is one that followed married patients diagnosed with depression. One group was given standard pharmacological treatment, and the other group was given no medication, but underwent counseling together with their spouses that attempted to identify problems in their lives and identify things they could each do to improve the depressed person's life. The latter group, perhaps unsurprisingly, had a much higher rate of improvement, thus lending some empirical evidence to the controversial claim of Dr. Szasz* that many mental disorders are really "problems in living" more than they are "diseases".

[* Dr. Szasz being Thomas Szasz, a psychiatrist (the sort with an MD), author of The Myth of Mental Illness way back in the 60s or 70s, and all-around anti-psychiatry advocate for the past few decades. He's widely reviled by psychiatrists, but they've since stated adopting some of his positions, notably the removal of homosexuality from the DSM.]

[ Parent ]

You are forgetting a few details. (3.00 / 5) (#20)
by Psycho Dave on Sat Oct 16, 2004 at 06:27:49 PM EST

Sure, the drug manufacturers would love to give you their Atlas Shrugged version of the current situation. But before you start sympathizing too much with the "poor, selfish drug companies" here's something you may want to consider.

Pharmecutical companies are extremely profitable. They are certainly not being run into the ground by other countries price caps. They make the lions share of that profit off of American consumers, but that money is not put into research and development.  Drug companies put the majority of their profits into higher dividends for their stockholders. And the money they do commit to R&D is for variations on their best sellers (like making a new Viagra that only gives you a two hour hard on instead of a four hour one, rather than improving AIDS and cancer treatments.)

So enough with pitying the drug companies. Price controls in the US are long overdue.

Fascinating. (1.00 / 3) (#26)
by Esspets on Sat Oct 16, 2004 at 07:10:24 PM EST

Price controls in the US are long overdue.

Please elaborate on this. I remember back during the old Bell telecom "crisis", there was this so-called monopoly on long distance telephone calls. And as a result, trailer trash and hick idiots weren't able to make long distance calls to their fatass family for as long as they pleased. Something had to be done about this !!! Enter our good friend, the mischevious little pratt known as "liberal democracy", and boy did it ever have its sweet way with some tight telecom butthole and turned it into a wet sloppy mess...all and only to allow mouthbreathing union labourers to talk to their hairy girlfriends in New Jersey on the telephone while they were out out on construction jobs in NYC. Yet another shameful example of people of less quality and social merit collaborating as a gigantic political parasite so they could talk about how nanna farts after she drinks milk.


Desperation.
[ Parent ]
LOL! (none / 0) (#75)
by mcgrew on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 12:09:50 PM EST

Local calls were unmetered, long distance calls were metered. Prices were crazy, often it cost more to call someone 100 miles away than someone half the continent away.

I was a bill paying phone company customer back then, sonny.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

And what's your point? (none / 1) (#116)
by Esspets on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 10:42:02 PM EST

And this somehow leads you to believe that you're entitled to gut an infrastructure (again, build by quality humans) because you were jabbering away on some telephone to your ugly girlfriend? Where I live, sonny, long distance charges still apply within twenty miles of my residence in fact. As a matter of fact, my grandfather used to write letters to communicate long before you were even born.


Desperation.
[ Parent ]
Gut an infrastructure?? (none / 0) (#279)
by mcgrew on Sun Oct 24, 2004 at 02:08:16 PM EST

WTF are you talking about?

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

Profitable drugs (none / 0) (#87)
by John Thompson on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 04:01:54 PM EST

Psycho Dave wrote:

Drug companies put the majority of their profits into higher dividends for their stockholders. And the money they do commit to R&D is for variations on their best sellers (like making a new Viagra that only gives you a two hour hard on instead of a four hour one, rather than improving AIDS and cancer treatments.)

This is a good point, and particularly compelling in light of the many antobiotic-resistant strains of diseases that are spreading, e.g. MRSA, VRE, MDR-TB, and others.

Developing new antobiotics to treat resistant organisms is expensive, and has much lower long term money making potential than working on drugs for chronic conditions, such as SSRIs.

[ Parent ]

Economics (none / 0) (#135)
by Quila on Mon Oct 18, 2004 at 12:48:20 PM EST

Someone better versed in economics please tell me if there is something wrong or economically unnatural with this picture:


  1. Company invents something very useful to society (e.g., life saving drug)
  2. That something becomes massively popular, the demand being very high.
  3. During the patent period the company reaps immense profits.
  4. When the patent expires other companies mass-produce it, selling at low-cost on the market (they didn't have any R&D to recoup)
  5. Wash, rinse, repeat

That is the natural order of things in a free economy. If you have what people want, then who are we to say their profits are too high? They are profiting at the rate the market will allow. The only thing throwing a monkey wrench into the mix is government, to the detriment of the people of course, because the companies have the lobbying power to make sure the government doesn't hurt them.

The big interference as this article refers to is price controls.  Price controls are extremely bad in the area of economics, as seen in former and current communist countries. Once you set the price for something artificially below market value, that something will disappear absent some great compensating factor.

Basically, if you tell someone they can't make money off something, then they won't produce it absent some other pressure (e.g., whuppin' slaves). For example, among other things price controls on rice in Vietnam made rice production there so low they had to import it. China starved millions based on the same concepts. Both are doing much better now after lifting price controls and other artificial government interference in the economy.

Also, the larger the interference, the more it will take to keep things from collapsing.  We can keep some stupid things up indefinitely as long as the government has the cash and the taxpayers don't protest too much, but in that case the people either pay directly or through taxes, or the commodity disappears.

The socialized medicine companies have it good though. In a strange quirk, they don't have to pay in order to keep their price controls in place while retaining the ability to get the commodity -- we get to pay.

Of course, solving this brings up a world of bad possibilities. If we just allow importing, then the drug companies will have to negotiate with the socialized medicine countries for realistic prices. These countries will not be without those drugs, so they either have to give in or violate the patents and produce these drugs locally. The latter would kick off a massive trade dispute with the US.

Yes, there will be transition pains to a fair and economically realistic and sustainable model. Vietnam had some pretty bad pains when they reformed their economy, but at least now they're an exporter of rice instead of an importer.

[ Parent ]

Nit... (none / 0) (#136)
by skyknight on Mon Oct 18, 2004 at 12:54:53 PM EST

Once you set the price for something artificially below market value, that something will disappear absent some great compensating factor.

I'm not entirely sure if that applies here, since the marginal cost per pill once the research is complete is effectively zero. This is why companies go on selling to countries that have price controls, and will sell as much as the people can afford to buy. The real issue here is not what price controls do to present day supply, but rather what they do to the quality of what is available in the future.

Also, I think that there is something fundamentally different about markets when there are patents involved. This isn't to say anything about whether it's right or wrong for drugs companies to do X, Y or Z, rather just to say that comparisons to other market scenarios are tenuous at best.



It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
They don't work without profit (none / 0) (#157)
by Quila on Mon Oct 18, 2004 at 09:18:34 PM EST

This is why companies go on selling to countries that have price controls, and will sell as much as the people can afford to buy.

They only go on selling because they know they can recoup their costs here in the U.S., and that is why they keep lobbying to keep the laws as they are. Like the RIAA, they do not want their profit model messed with and they don't mind gouging some people while others get off cheap as long as they keep their profits.

The real issue here is not what price controls do to present day supply, but rather what they do to the quality of what is available in the future.

I hope no one is short-sighted enough to trade future drugs for cheap drugs now.

[ Parent ]

People are remarkably short-sighted... (none / 0) (#158)
by skyknight on Mon Oct 18, 2004 at 09:24:21 PM EST

particularly when the result of their shortsightedness is not a cost that they have to bear, but rather one that is foisted off onto future generations.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
Unnatural economics (2.00 / 2) (#140)
by Thought Assassin on Mon Oct 18, 2004 at 02:17:47 PM EST

Someone better versed in economics please tell me if there is something wrong or economically unnatural with this picture

As skyknight mentioned, you can't expect to get the benefits of a free market when patents are involved. This is how a natural (non-patent-encumbered) market would work:
1. Money is set aside as a prize for developing a drug with efficacy x against disease y. The money comes in varying amounts from myriad private, corporate and public sources, each in accordance with the value to them of such development.
2. Capital is invested by companies wishing to score such a prize, possibly along with further direct government funding. (Just as they do now when the possible prize is a patent, so the way research is done barely changes)
3. A drug is developed to meet requirements, and the prize is awarded. The winning company is justly rewarded for its efforts. The contributors to the prize consider it money well spent (because they chose to spend it).
4. The drug is cheaply mass produced and available to whoever wants it at roughly the cost of production. Those who could afford to have already willingly paid for its development, but those who could not do not have to suffer as they do now.

So the supply mechanisms stay roughly the same, while there is no longer an incentive to keep medicine from those rich enough to pay for its manufacture, but not its development. (in fact, the people who could afford to pay only half of the $60 asking price for a drug can now pay $5 for the cost of manufacture, and put the $25 it is worth to them into the development fund, instead of not contributing or benefitting at all.)

[ Parent ]

Definitely unnatural (none / 0) (#156)
by Quila on Mon Oct 18, 2004 at 09:11:28 PM EST

As skyknight mentioned, you can't expect to get the benefits of a free market when patents are involved.

Yes you can in the long run, as long as patents are relatively short-lived. Patents are the incentive to invention, as outlined in the U.S. Constitution.

What you suggest might work, but it is definitely not in the realm of normal free-market economics, especially since I see government mentioned in there a couple of times.

[ Parent ]

Government intervention is not essential at all (none / 1) (#160)
by Thought Assassin on Mon Oct 18, 2004 at 11:55:23 PM EST

Yes you can [get the benefits of a free market when patents are involved] in the long run, as long as patents are relatively short-lived.

Well duh, obviously once a patent has expired it stops having an effect. But the damage is already done. Better not to let it happen in the first place.

Patents are the incentive to invention, as outlined in the U.S. Constitution.

Patents are an incentive to invention, according to the US constitution, but they actually have a dampening effect on innovation (because they impose a premium on further innovation, but also because they reduce the number of people who benefit from the innovation, they reduce the demand - how much we are willing to pay - for innovation), as should be obvious from the two models presented up-thread.

The original reason behind patents did make sense: to reward inventors for publishing their work, rather than keeping it secret. But as soon as a patent is granted for something that couldn't be kept secret (i.e. a product rather than an industrial process), it loses it purpose and becomes counter-productive as I explained above.

What you suggest might work, but it is definitely not in the realm of normal free-market economics, especially since I see government mentioned in there a couple of times.

You can take the government out of it and it still works exactly the same - all I let the government do was add contributions of money alongside existing private and corporate contributions. Whereas the incumbent system is built from the ground up on government intervention in the form of enforcing patent monopolies.

I personally think the government intervention is probably unnecessary (the current intervention is mainly to fix the problems caused by the current intervention of patents, once there is a direct market for innovation people will spend more on drug research if they are taxed less) but I figured I'd change as little as possible so the two models could be better compared.

[ Parent ]

I do like your idea (none / 0) (#185)
by Quila on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 09:53:20 AM EST

Somewhat like an X-Prize for medicine. It is another good alternative to the current system.

However, I may have missed the incentive for private people and industry to put up $1B if there is no guarantee of the monetary return that would happen if the result could be patented. They do that now currently -- it's called capital investment.

[ Parent ]

no, there is no difference (none / 0) (#188)
by speek on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 10:34:52 AM EST

Right now, investors are putting up $1B in the hopes that they A) discover a useful drug and B) that they are first to patent it. With an X-Prize solution, it is the exact same thing - they have to discover a useful drug, and be the first to patent it. The real difference is that all the money has to be available up front, rather than paid over 20 years, but that can be dealt with by letting X-Prizes continuously grow as people put more money to a particular prize each year. As it grows, the incentive increases.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

One prize, many patents (none / 0) (#197)
by rhdntd on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 01:39:39 PM EST

Isn't it typical for n companies researching an area to come up with n non-identical solutions to the problem, each of which is then patented?  While this leads to some limited competition it still allows those players to be the only producers and prices will tend to stay high.  In the prize model only one company can win it all and the rest are out all the R&D money.  Or would you split the prize for every entry within a year of the first so everyone can get something?  Then would anyone make enough to make it all worthwhile?

-- 
"book chicks really seem to like anal"
  — Lady 3Jane
[ Parent ]
n non-identical solutions (none / 0) (#219)
by Thought Assassin on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 08:30:30 PM EST

You don't start a research project with a 100% certainty that you'll get anything out of it, so investors in research amortize over multiple projects, knowing that some will bear fruit on the balance of probabilities. That's not something that would change. And we know there's enough demand to fund multiple research efforts, because we fund them today.

It might become slightly more winner-takes-all in this way, but it will be less so in another way: there will likely be bounties for several steps along the way to a useful product, and missing out on one doesn't mean you can't compete on even terms for the next.

[ Parent ]

I'm still missing something (none / 0) (#220)
by Quila on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 08:43:46 PM EST

I understand the incentive from the drug producer end. But where's the incentive for people to put up the prize money?

[ Parent ]
disease cures, longer, better life (none / 0) (#222)
by speek on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 10:59:16 PM EST

The incentive for people is the same incentive that causes people to pay for drugs at the drug store, and pay for health insurance. What it takes is a change in our culture, which is much harder than coming up with ways to fund research fairly.

People usually think, "you can't change our culture", but the fact is, people did change our culture, deliberately, to what it is today (people like Andrew Carnegie, Rockefeller, Ford and others).

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Some Observations (2.50 / 2) (#21)
by fyngyrz on Sat Oct 16, 2004 at 06:28:07 PM EST

(very sorry for repost - stupid Kuro5hin defaults to editorial comment, even though majority of comments are not editorial... whoever wrote that in doesn't understand what a default is for!)
This seems to neglect the fact that concepts of intellectual property are strictly human constructs, and furthermore that ownership in general is part of the social contract.

Is not a steam engine a human construct? I don't recall ever seeing one in nature. The entire idea of copyrights and patents is to provide a scaffolding to hang business enterprise upon ideas in order to motivate the rank and file to create same. Now, I would argue that the system is very poory designed, and further that it isn't even working as it was designed to - but that is its purpose. The concepts of property ownership and controls don't "neglect" the idea of intellectual property, they are the very exemplification of it.

As for the social contract - this is an entirely bogus construct. Most people have no idea what the phrase means, and if they did, they'd be appalled at the things that are supposedly incumbent upon them. The thing is supposed to apply to everyone, yet no one knows about it. Its more like a shrinkwrap license (no one reads it) than it is any kind of true social glue.

Something has to give

You broadly make this claim, but you show no supporting evidence. There is no indication whatsoever that anything has to "give", that is, change in order to "correct" the situation you describe. The fact is that social inequity has been manifest in many forms in the USA since it was founded. Very few "sea changes" have occurred. If you think something has to give here, you should say why, rather than wave your hands and mumble about it.

Yes, people are suffering. That's nothing new. So why?

Blog, Photos.

That Stuff Lite courtesy of Esspets. (1.15 / 13) (#24)
by Esspets on Sat Oct 16, 2004 at 06:44:44 PM EST

  • You do not have a "right" to health care or prescription drugs that other people invented, paid for, and gave blood and sweat in years to manufacture. If we do even suppose that there is a "right" to any of these things, then I have a "right" to provide euthanasia as a cure-all to your medical woes...without your consent as a necessity in order to maintain a little bit of consistency. If this is up as a serious viable solution in the future, I'll be the first in line to sign up.
  • You as a person do nothing for me other than perhaps obstruct traffic on sidewalks and roadways with your fat posterior and/or ridiculously poor driving skills, particularly if you are of a lower class that tend to dwell in filth by choice and catch diseases such as typhoid and rabies. Thus, I have no incentive to keep you alive other than my actual right to negotiate with you some terms of contractual bondage in exchange for making you well through medical treatment, which unfortunately has been eradicated from most of the civilised world. You are only worth what materials and skills you accumulate and nothing more. In other words, you only live because somebody else allows you.
  • Cancer is a disease of excess, old age, genetics, or a combination of all of these things. Strictly speaking, cancer as a fatal disease is a genetic one as an indicator of your inferior inability to adapt to enviroment. It is the result of nature or willful excess, neither of which are under my control. Hence the responsibility of keeping your old ass living is soley your own, anything else is a gesture of good will.



Desperation.
Ok... (none / 0) (#85)
by John Thompson on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 03:43:49 PM EST

Esspets wrote:

You do not have a "right" to health care or prescription drugs that other people invented, paid for, and gave blood and sweat in years to manufacture.

Sounds like a good argument to have the government do the research and development of drugs. That way we could have a "right" to the medications we have paid for developing and manufacturing. Is that what you meant? :-)



[ Parent ]
You humanitarian. (none / 1) (#103)
by Innocent Bystander on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 07:47:13 PM EST

"You do not have a "right" to health care or prescription drugs that other people invented, paid for, and gave blood and sweat in years to manufacture."

Yes I do. I'm Canadian and we have more rights than you Americans.

You as a person do nothing for me except provide me with a few minutes of rueful amusement. For that amusement I will gladly allow you your miserable life.

And I hope you get cancer. In your balls.

[ Parent ]

Badnarik's opion. Please comment.... (1.60 / 5) (#29)
by The Amazing Idiot on Sat Oct 16, 2004 at 07:35:54 PM EST

Excess regulation has increased new drug development time by a decade since the 1960s and multiplied development costs 5-fold. Consequently, our seriously ill die waiting for life-saving medicines and pay exorbitant prices when they finally can purchase them. Since these excess regulations kill many more people than they save, they can be safely eliminated, slashing pharmaceutical prices virtually overnight!

The average brand name prescription drug cost American consumers over $84 per month in 2003, making life-saving medications unaffordable for those on low or fixed incomes.

Establishment politicians want to shift these costs to taxpayers or pharmaceutical firms. Making taxpayers foot the bill will only spread the impoverishment. Cutting pharmaceutical profits to make drug companies foot the bill will stifle innovation. We'll be forced to watch our loved ones die in agony, unable to purchase a cure at any price.

These so-called solutions don't work in the real world because establishment politicians haven't answered the tough question: Why have drug prices risen so steeply in the past several decades?

The answer is excessive FDA regulation. In 1962, Congress passed the Kefauver-Harris Amendments, in the wake of the European thalidomide tragedy. This sweeping legislation meant that pharmaceutical firms had to go through more elaborate animal and human studies. New regulations made manufacturing more costly. Advertising had to undergo an approval process by the FDA.

The American consumer reaped small safety benefits from these added regulations, but the cost, both in lives and money, was even greater. Millions have died waiting for life-saving drugs because development times have increased by an average of 10 years since the 1960s. The cost of developing a new drug is now about $1 billion. Somewhere around 80% of this cost is due to excess regulations.

The Kefauver-Harris Amendments even created an American thalidomide which caused more birth defects than thalidomide did. Since the 1980s, we've known that the B vitamin, folic acid, could prevent about 85% of spina bifida and other neural tube abnormalities if taken in the first couple months of pregnancy. Until the late 1990s, the regulatory power of the Amendments was used by the FDA to stop vitamin manufacturers from advertising folic acid's benefits. Young women could have protected their unborn children with this safe, inexpensive supplement. Instead, thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of American infants have been needlessly born with heart-wrenching deformities. Many more were aborted when pre-natal tests revealed these defects.

We could slash pharmaceutical prices overnight by ending these regulations. We could save people who now die waiting an extra decade for life-saving drugs. We could save our children from a future American thalidomide.

Why should we pay high pharmaceutical prices for regulations that harm us? If you elect me as your President, I promise to lower the high cost of prescription medication by eliminating the problem at its root.

His view does make sense.. (none / 1) (#31)
by The Amazing Idiot on Sat Oct 16, 2004 at 07:39:58 PM EST

Look at the most recent, Vioxx.

The FDA also, NOW has put out a warning for kids using anti-depressants. After 10-15 years?

Before was Phen-Fen. What was it? 6 month FDA trial?

Does Badnarik's opinion hold water? Sure seems the FDA fails.. badly. If it worked as good, then none of these would found.

[ Parent ]

Or it may not make sense (none / 0) (#53)
by xria on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 10:41:26 AM EST

How do you know that 10 times as many problems might not have been caused that the extra research and FDA legislation has succeeded in stopping. Its easy to point to failures of an existing system, but it takes a lot more to determine within even a vague sense what things would have been like without it there.

[ Parent ]
I'm sure the same logic... (none / 1) (#54)
by skyknight on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 10:51:15 AM EST

gets used all the time to curtail our civil liberties in the War on Terror.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
Really what I was saying (none / 0) (#69)
by xria on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 11:49:34 AM EST

If you really want to understand whether the current legalisation is working or not, you really need to know about the subject in significant depth.

Saying that a couple of well publicised failures of a system is a reason to abandon it, without knowing how many times they have successfully avoided problems isnt a very compelling argument.

If only a couple of other drugs have been halted by regulation then a 50/50 result is probably not worth adding years worth of research. Comparatively if thousands of drugs that would otherwise have been sold for some time have be held up for more development to make them safe then a <1% failure rate can more easily be justified.

[ Parent ]

Well, sure... (none / 0) (#70)
by skyknight on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 11:55:05 AM EST

I agree that anecdotal evidence is no basis for argument. The effectiveness of a security system, however, is notoriously difficult to gauge, as it is unclear what to use as a baseline once the system is in place and functioning.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
Very true (none / 0) (#79)
by xria on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 12:19:21 PM EST

Not quite the case for drugs though, as no doubt the companies and the FDA has enough evidence of potential down sides of a drug to discontinue/redirect its research.

The same cant be said for security which is a very nebulous thing indeed. Especially when apparently the solution to safeguarding against thousands of people being killed, is getting thousands of people killed.

[ Parent ]

But wait (none / 0) (#34)
by thankyougustad on Sat Oct 16, 2004 at 08:25:06 PM EST

You say
Establishment politicians want to shift these costs to taxpayers or pharmaceutical firms. Making taxpayers foot the bill will only spread the impoverishment. Cutting pharmaceutical profits to make drug companies foot the bill will stifle innovation. We'll be forced to watch our loved ones die in agony, unable to purchase a cure at any price.

This doesn't seem to be true (even though you assert it.) In countries where taxpayers foot the bill for medications there is a surplus of medicine.

Also, isn't this article more about copyright than who is going to pay for the drugs? Shouldn't drug companies give up their strangleholds on important drugs for the good of everyone?

I'm not convinced either way, the only drug I'm intersted in anyway is oxycontin.



No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
I didnt say, badnarik did. (none / 0) (#35)
by The Amazing Idiot on Sat Oct 16, 2004 at 08:37:35 PM EST

http://badnarik.org/plans_prescriptiondrugs.php

It's a copy&paste job. I commented down my thread.

Anyways, Badnarik's opinion about the excessive cost problem is severe amount of "regulation". Reduce overhead and you can reduce cost.

[ Parent ]

Indeed n/t (none / 0) (#42)
by thankyougustad on Sat Oct 16, 2004 at 10:36:21 PM EST



No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
No (none / 1) (#37)
by levesque on Sat Oct 16, 2004 at 08:52:46 PM EST

make drug companies foot the bill will stifle innovation

Innovation is not dependent on economic motives.

[ Parent ]

On what is it dependent? /nt (none / 0) (#38)
by skyknight on Sat Oct 16, 2004 at 08:55:36 PM EST



It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
I want to say personal or group motivation, (none / 0) (#43)
by levesque on Sat Oct 16, 2004 at 11:25:28 PM EST

or maybe need but I know those are spacious answers.

What is innovation and how do we quantify it?

[ Parent ]

Innovation... (none / 0) (#44)
by The Amazing Idiot on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 12:42:17 AM EST

What is innovation?

The finding of a new idea that allows the creation of an object that does a novel thing.

How do we quantify innovation?

We have set goals. Many are lofty goals found in Sci Fi. Some scientists research those goals. Then we have reachable goals (g).

We have goals in medicine: way to heal types of paralysis, analog/digital hookups to eyes and ears, robotic presence for surgery, cures for diseases..

We have goals in energy: cleaner oil-based products, reusable fuels, efficent solar cells, fusion....

We have goals in every field of study. It's something we dont have yet, but can obtain with brainpower and prior innovations.

For example, drug companies want to make AIDS a moot point. They research genetic research, anti-viruses, chemical compunds that alter recepters, and many other types of research. It takes time to find how AIDS works on humans, the effects, and POSSIBLE cures.

Then, when they make a possible drug out of a simulation, then they much find a way to craft it. Once it's crafted, you have to test.. but you cannot test immediately on humans in the US. So, instead, you modify the immunity drug and use it on BIV (cow aids). Once the animal testing is done, you can weed out what drugs work and what drugs do not.

Then you can start human trials by selecting certain patients who have AIDS. Then, out of medium-term trials, you have to get data and make sense of it.  Likely, it will have some effect. Worst case is it actually makes symptoms and disease worse.

If and when it is successful, you will have taken up to 10 years for your testing and implementation of your drug. It can cost upwards of 1 billion dollars.

Then you can make money on the drug.

Now, with the knowledge learned by the study of the "innovation" made, you can then proceed to base other ideas and objects upon those plans.

Many, many innovations over years finally lead to a science fiction-like breakthrough. Each piece, made by one steap at a time, lead to the creation of a new device, then with new wants and needs.

[ Parent ]

Yes (none / 0) (#101)
by levesque on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 07:35:35 PM EST

But I meant it in a rhetorical sense, cause I didn't have an answer to skynight's question, but with your prompting...

make drug companies foot the bill will stifle innovation

This is a choice of the company, not an implication.

It makes no difference to innovaters, as such, whether their funding comes from a more private or public oriented corporation.

[ Parent ]

Godwin's Law Alert! (none / 0) (#147)
by smithmc on Mon Oct 18, 2004 at 04:05:24 PM EST


It makes no difference to innovaters, as such, whether their funding comes from a more private or public oriented corporation.

That's true. For instance, Wernher von Braun didn't care where the money was coming from, back when he was developing the V-2 missile.

[ Parent ]

You dont get it... (none / 0) (#192)
by The Amazing Idiot on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 11:26:36 AM EST

---But I meant it in a rhetorical sense, cause I didn't have an answer to skynight's question, but with your prompting...

""make drug companies foot the bill will stifle innovation""

---This is a choice of the company, not an implication.

Wrong, it is both. Simply put, a cost of a human drug is roughly 1 billion dollars. About 80% of that is pure governmental testing and paperwork. Assuming you DID have an optional federal authority that certified drugs that the companies could choose to participate, you'd have more drugs and riskier drugs with higher turnarounds.

The problem with the FDA also is related to folic acid and asprin. The FDA activiely prohibited asprin producers to put that if taken, would limit  the effect of heart disease.

The lack of folic acid during pregnancy creates babies with horrid deformities. We've known ssince the 80's that if you take folic acid, this defect goes away... They couldnt tell until the FDA finally gave in and allowed them to print that on the bottle.

---It makes no difference to innovaters, as such, whether their funding comes from a more private or public oriented corporation.

Private: They can finance their own drugs, and it makes sense to allow them to keep more money they make to encorgate to make more drugs.

Public: Why should WE pay for it? We already buy the drugs (or through the HMO's or whatnot). WHy should our TAXES go to "help" pay? Why not give drug companies tax releif if they're struggling that much?

[ Parent ]

We are not on the same wave (none / 0) (#244)
by levesque on Wed Oct 20, 2004 at 04:48:30 PM EST

It is not because the FDA is badly run that the notion of serious regulation is wrong. It is not an either public or private world. Sometimes we can talk about a more private or public solution but that is all.

Private incorporates public notions and public incorporates private notions, they are the two ends of a dimension, they do not actually exist. The self needs the group for regulation and the group needs the self for regulation. It is inherent. Too much public leaning regulation is bad for the private, too much private leaning regulation is bad for the public.

There may be serious problems out there but I don't think magical solutions brought by mythical private or public entities can do more than patchwork. A well run system of public/private and private/public entities are fully capable of maximizing efficiency, innovation and production way beyond what we see today.

[ Parent ]

Ok, I understand where you're coming from(i think) (none / 0) (#257)
by The Amazing Idiot on Thu Oct 21, 2004 at 06:38:51 PM EST

I forget what the correct legal term is, but what if companies were revoked "citizenship rights" and had to act as a legal actor as the government?

What would it do to our current corporate landscape if corporations had to act in the peoples' best interest? Im unsure of all the pecularities. I just know enough to get burnt with it ;-)

[ Parent ]

Ok, I think (none / 0) (#258)
by levesque on Thu Oct 21, 2004 at 07:40:56 PM EST

I forget what the correct legal term is, but what if companies were revoked "citizenship rights" and had to act as a legal actor as the government?

Sounds like a good direction to move toward.

What would it do to our current corporate landscape if corporations had to act in the people's best interest?

Possibly the crap would tend to recede and the useful multiply, but I would maybe emphasize: "What would it do to our current corporate landscape if corporations had to act -more and more in the people's best interest"

[ Parent ]

Based on offline sources (3.00 / 8) (#40)
by godix on Sat Oct 16, 2004 at 09:26:59 PM EST

The following is based on offline sources so I can't provide a link because I'm to lazy to look up online sources for the same thing. So take this for what it's worth, statements from someone who can't and won't prove their true. Then again, the article does the same thing so what the hell.

Rough breakdown of where money from US drug company sales go to:

  1. % - research and development
  2. % - advertising
  3. % - All other costs of business (distribution, manufacturing, salaries, etc)
  4. % - profit
Just for comparison purposes, the average buisness keeps 3% of all sales as profits. Drug companies have four times the profit margin of pretty much any other buisness around. In fact their profit is almost as much as what they spend on research.

Also as you can see US drug companies spend a bit over twice as much money advertising drugs as developing them. Yet another area that could be cut, especially if you start questioning on if patients really need to know about perscription drugs for diseases they aren't diagnosed with.

There's also other sources of research to consider. Much early research is carried out by NIH and universities, in other words publically funded insitutions. They tend to make the early breakthroughs that allow the drug company to refine, develop, and market drugs. In other words, drug companies charge us their insanely profitable prices for things built partially off research you, I, and every other taxpayer funded.

Personally, I think drug prices should be capped but not at a hard dollar amount. Instead cap drug prices to 3% profit (you'd have to carefully define 'profit' to prevent abuse). That'd allow lower prices while still allowing companies to recoup R&D costs.


- An egotist is someone who thinks they're almost as good as I am.

if you START questioning? (3.00 / 3) (#46)
by Kasreyn on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 03:14:33 AM EST

If the AMA had a shred of professional ethics in them, they would be lobbying the government to outlaw advertisement for prescription drugs, on the grounds that it is practising medicine without a license.

And even if a licensed physician is providing the advice listed on the TV, I still don't give a fuck. It subverts the doctor-patient relationship, wastes time, and wastes money that the company then gouges out of the consumers and bleats to the government that that's part of its unavoidable costs. Bullshit. Pfizer (I think it's Pfizer) isn't forced to advertise Viagra, because there is no competing product. They already have a monopoly! So they have no right to whine to the government that their advertising budget deserves protection at consumer expense.

So if a company with a patented drug wants to have its monopoly, fine. Just have the government set that profit cap such that all its outlays are paid and it gets a tidy profit - not counting any advertising cost. Then if advertisement is what they want to do, let them spend THEIR money on it for a change. But it's hard to envision a future where the U.S. breaks free of the political stranglehold drug companies have on both parties, though we can dream.


-Kasreyn


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
I basically agree (3.00 / 3) (#48)
by godix on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 04:15:17 AM EST

but for slightly different reasons. The way I see it, the ONLY way advertising on perscription drugs can actually raise sales of that drug is if it means more people are being diagnosed with whatever disease. Why would advertising raise the rate of a disease? Simply because many of these drugs are either for mental issues or things that are minor except in certain extreme cases. Therefore people are either going 'Hey, I think I might have ADD, better pester the doc to give me those drugs' or 'Hey, I had a rash once. I wonder if it's that skin thingie disease. Better pester my doctor for that drug'. Either way it's untrained patients which are diagnosing themselves and pestering doctors to write a perscription and sadly some doctors go along with it.

The other bad side of perscription drug advertising is that there's a lot more of it going on that what we see. Drug companies pressure doctors to prescibe their drug, which requires diagnosing more people with that disease, by a method of bonuses and kickbacks (call it what you will). Frequently doctors don't tell their patients of this relationship (I've heard of a lawsuit over exactly this issue although I don't know how it ended) which to me violates the trust we put in doctors.

So I personally think advertising to the general public AND to doctors should be prohibited. One is encouraging untrained people to make medical decisions and the other is rewarding doctors to misdiagnose patients and prescibe them drugs they very well may not need. Either way it hurts the medical care of the country with no real benifit to patients. As you point out there's a financial aspect to this as well, the increased sales came from someones pocket, but to me that isn't as important as the encouraging bad medicine aspect of it. Your additional idea of not including advertising is a very good idea for financial and medical reasons. Wish it had a chance in hell of ever becoming reality.


- An egotist is someone who thinks they're almost as good as I am.
[ Parent ]

exactly (none / 1) (#49)
by Delirium on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 05:21:15 AM EST

I think this is the crucial point: most of the time, what's being advertised is the disease ("hey, did you ever think you might suffer from depression?"), not the drug to treat that disease. Advertising the disease can increase profits, while advertising the drug to patients already diagnosed probably won't, because the doctor will probably prescribe whichever drug they happen to want to prescribe, and patients rarely have strong preferences between multiple comparable drugs.

(There are a few exceptions: allergy medications are mostly advertising against each others' products.)

[ Parent ]

The primary focus of drug advertising ... (none / 0) (#144)
by cdguru on Mon Oct 18, 2004 at 02:53:37 PM EST

is that patients go to their doctor and say "I think I have these little critters crawling under my nails, so I must need some Lamisil." This happens, it wastes the time of the doctor, it wastes money on both the doctor visit and the prescription (when the doctor gives in) and is generally silly.

It does actually drive sales, or they wouldn't do it.

[ Parent ]

I agree except (none / 0) (#73)
by mcgrew on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 12:05:34 PM EST

Viagra does have a competing product, Levitra, and the competing product is kicking its ass. That's why Viagra started that new "devil horn" ad campaign- they had to compete.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

Ah. (none / 0) (#98)
by Kasreyn on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 06:58:52 PM EST

Thanks for the heads-up. :P

(ouch. I apologize for that)

I don't really keep up on these, being a young man who has no plans on reverting to childhood and denying his mortality. But age might change me.


-Kasreyn


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
Advertising is not always for patients (none / 0) (#94)
by DoorFrame on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 05:21:34 PM EST

No offense, but advertising isn't always going to affect patients.  I would argue that a much more important target of advertising is doctors.  Just because you're a working doctor, doesn't mean that you have the time (or the inclination) to read ever medical journal and the uses for every new drug that hits the market.  Quite frankly, I'm surprised that they ever switch to new drugs, as it's just easier to stick with what you've been prescribing, especially if it hasn't caused any problems.  

Advertising, in this case, can have a significant impact on doctors. If you don't have the time to read up on every journal, and yet you see an ad for a commercial that seems like it could be relevent to your patients, my guess is you're going to research it and find out if it is indeed something worth prescribing.  And even if the ads do hit the consumer, and the comsumer goes to the doctor and says "What about drug X?" it's again an incentive for the doctor to learn about it and possible find out that it is indeed something he/she should consider prescribing.  

I have no issue with drugs being advertised.  What you should have a problem with is doctor's prescribing things that patients don't need... that's the real enemy.

All that being said, it should be taken with a grain of salt as I don't know a single doctor and only one guy in med school so I don't really have a clue as to what I'm talking about.

[ Parent ]

Blase acceptance of monopolies (none / 0) (#126)
by Thought Assassin on Mon Oct 18, 2004 at 07:08:56 AM EST

So if a company with a patented drug wants to have its monopoly, fine.

Why do people think like this? The whole discussion is about the damage it's caused, and your solution involves further government intervention at tax-payers expense. (and you know that whatever the law the drug companies will find a way around it, so we just end up funding an arms race between government and drug firm lawyers)

Is it so hard to think outside the "intellectual property" cage that noone can come to the obvious conclusion: "If a company wants a patent monopoly, fuck them."?

[ Parent ]

Drugs are really expensive to research, (none / 0) (#170)
by Kasreyn on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 01:50:02 AM EST

and really cheap to make once the formula is known.

There has to be a way to get drug companies to research new drugs, and the best way we've found yet is to give them a limited monopoly to recoup their investment. Of course, they're busy trying to chisel away at that "limited" part. :P

If you have a better system, trust me. We're all ears.


-Kasreyn


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
Free market alternatives (none / 0) (#173)
by Thought Assassin on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 02:43:38 AM EST

There has to be a way to get drug companies to research new drugs, and the best way we've found yet is to give them a limited monopoly to recoup their investment.

You mean the only way we've tried. The patent system by its nature locks out any other mechanism from being tried because producers have a significant incentive (monopolistic profit-raking) to adhere to the current system to the detriment of consumers. I would argue that every tax and donation dollar is a consumer's attempt to buy their way around the broken system, but it is not being spent wisely enough to avoid the drug companies just taking it as a bonus on top of their existing monopolies, rather than a reward for working outside them.

If you have a better system...

Let me direct you here, then. I'm not actually saying that this proposal is the be-all and end-all of a patent-free research market, but it's at least one acceptable (i.e. not worse in any way than the status quo, and better in at least some ways) solution, and I have the utmost faith in an unconstrained market finding the best solution if given a chance.

[ Parent ]

Have a monopoly? (none / 0) (#143)
by cdguru on Mon Oct 18, 2004 at 02:51:00 PM EST

Pfizer (I think it's Pfizer) isn't forced to advertise Viagra, because there is no competing product. They already have a monopoly!

Obviously you haven't been keeping up. You forgot about Cialis and Levitra. They are competitors for Vigra.

[ Parent ]

what offline sources? (none / 1) (#72)
by mcgrew on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 12:03:17 PM EST

No citation, no credibility.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

If you must know (none / 1) (#102)
by godix on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 07:47:13 PM EST

it's from NPR. However as I said to begin with, I'm not going to bother looking for online sources to verify this. If you wish to disbelieve it then that's understandable.


- An egotist is someone who thinks they're almost as good as I am.
[ Parent ]
I "wish" (none / 0) (#278)
by mcgrew on Sun Oct 24, 2004 at 02:06:55 PM EST

...to neither believe or disbelieve. But if you are going to argue that what I think I know is wrong you're going to have to do better than say "you're wrong."

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

Break-Even point (1.00 / 10) (#56)
by DominantParadigm on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 11:10:36 AM EST

English, motherfucker! Do you speak it?

-1 you don't know what you're talking about



Caller:So you're advocating bombing innocent children? Howard Stern:Yes, of course!


Er... What? /nt (none / 0) (#58)
by skyknight on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 11:12:17 AM EST



It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
BREAK-EVEN POINT (none / 0) (#59)
by DominantParadigm on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 11:13:22 AM EST

DO YOU SPEAK IT?

Caller:So you're advocating bombing innocent children? Howard Stern:Yes, of course!


[ Parent ]
You are as vague as you are rude. /nt (none / 0) (#60)
by skyknight on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 11:14:55 AM EST



It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
yhbt. hand. nt. (none / 0) (#65)
by mcgrew on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 11:43:17 AM EST


"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

I figured I was being trolled... (none / 0) (#68)
by skyknight on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 11:49:12 AM EST

but I have yet to figure out how.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
Listen up, dawg (none / 0) (#74)
by DominantParadigm on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 12:08:49 PM EST

You can't average PROFIT.

Caller:So you're advocating bombing innocent children? Howard Stern:Yes, of course!


[ Parent ]
editorial comment dumbass nt (none / 0) (#64)
by mcgrew on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 11:42:37 AM EST


"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

What about African Aids? (3.00 / 6) (#80)
by mcgrew on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 12:41:09 PM EST

Some people fall into the camp of thinking that the ownership of ideas is inviolate, and that the first person to think of an idea ought to exercise god like powers over it.

Except with patents, which is what we are discussing here, there is a 20 year time limit.

If you can stay alive twenty more years without your drugs, then in twenty years you can afford them. Twenty years isn't really all that long, although I know that when you're only 20, 20 is a lifetime.

But no one owns a patented process. They merely have a monopoly on that process for a limited time, after which it is owned by no one.

Copyrights used to be like that before the multinational corporations with their unAmerican "intellectual property" ideas came along and bought the US's legislators.

The greatest harm is done to AIDS patients in undeveloped countries.

...this is ludicrous. Foreign countries impose price control on drugs by fiat...

What's ludicrous is that we don't impose our own controls, or utilize other countries' price controls.

The only argument given by the Bush adminiatration against Canadian imports is that the FDA has no oversight. However, this year the FDA passed a UK flu vaccine factory with flying colors, right before the British shut it down for product contamination.

So much for the "FDA oversight those foreign guys are incompetent" argument!

There is no way for American retailers to compete with foreign retailers as their price from wholesalers is not capped by government mandate.

So what? Nobody's guranteeing you a market! As long as everyone can get cheap foreign drugs, why does Walgreen's have to carry them? They can develop my film and sell me asprin and most other analgesics and all other drugs invented more than 20 years ago that cost no more here than Canada.

There is no reason for me to subsidize drug discounts for Canadian citizens. Walgreen's can go out of business for all I care. It's not MY business.

likely having a negative impact on consumers within the countries that harbor the redistributors.

GOOD! Like I said, I DON'T WANT TO SUBSIDISE CANADIANS!

But you know, I suspect I'm not. Businessmen have no ethics or conscience these days, particularly those who run MNCs. I simply don't believe that they would sell drugs to Canadians at below cost or even at cost, period.

I think they're all lying to us, both the drug industry and the government they bribe with huge sums of "campaign" money to both major parties.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie

There's an important distinction to make... (3.00 / 2) (#81)
by skyknight on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 01:01:15 PM EST

There is no reason for me to subsidize drug discounts for Canadian citizens. Walgreen's can go out of business for all I care. It's not MY business.

There is a big difference between a business going bust because it was operated poorly, and a business going bust because it was legislated out of existence. Arguments couched in the language of free market competition don't make any sense in the context of the legislated monopolies that result from patents.



It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
They wouldn't be legislated out (none / 0) (#280)
by mcgrew on Sun Oct 24, 2004 at 02:10:34 PM EST

They would be put out of business by inability to compete.

"The entire neocon movement is dedicated to revoking mcgrew's posting priviliges. This is why we went to war with Iraq." -LilDebbie
[ Parent ]

They would be legislated out of existence... (none / 0) (#281)
by skyknight on Sun Oct 24, 2004 at 02:33:02 PM EST

because they would be getting squeezed between the laws of different countries. It wouldn't be a matter of a lack of efficiency or skill, but rather the fact that it would be legally impossible to exist. It's farcical to say that somehow the Canadian companies are being "more competitive". The only reasons their prices are lower is because the Canadian government set the prices that wholesalers can charge artificially low. In any case, it's largely irrelevant, because pharma companies would never let Canada do this. If Canada started started re-exporting stuff, then the pharma would just cap their shipments to them at whatever the Canadian population could realistically use. That's why this is all bullshit. US politicians are planning on having their cake and eating it, too. They are promising cheap drugs through reimportation, knowing full well that it won't work.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
Above-average profitability of drug companies (3.00 / 2) (#82)
by AxelBoldt on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 02:12:33 PM EST

Drug companies are much more profitable than other businesses. The reason is clear: they can set any price they want, the sick (or their insurance) has to pay. A free market system doesn't work if consumers have no choice. That's why most countries enact price controls, and the US should too.

Americans are perpetually picking up the tab for other peoples' trips to the pharmacy.

No, they are subsidizing the share holders of the pharmaceutical industry. Price controls would bring the profits of that industry down to those of other industries.

don't *have* to pay (none / 0) (#89)
by Delirium on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 04:16:38 PM EST

There's a lot of marginal treatments that might help, and there's some that even probably won't help, and these get prescribed all the time. There's even a lot of crap prescribed by unethical doctors who want to get the paitent out of the office as fast as possible, and writing them a prescription is generally the fastest way to do it. Lowering the cost of drugs will increase all those problems, because right now the "drugs are fucking expensive" problem is the only thing holding them in check.

[ Parent ]
No free market here. (none / 1) (#125)
by Thought Assassin on Mon Oct 18, 2004 at 06:52:43 AM EST

A free market system doesn't work if consumers have no choice.

Surely a free market system doesn't exist if consumers have no choice?

[ Parent ]

Depends on the reason for absence of choice (none / 0) (#261)
by kurtmweber on Thu Oct 21, 2004 at 09:07:50 PM EST

Is it because of government fiat, or because no one else wants to offer an alternative?

Kurt Weber
Any field of study can be considered 'complex' when it starts using Hebrew letters for symbols.--me
[ Parent ]
Drug company profits are in line with others. (none / 0) (#137)
by RyoCokey on Mon Oct 18, 2004 at 01:18:30 PM EST

Drug company profits are inflated by R&D write-offs.



The troops returning home are worried. "We've lost the peace," men tell you. "We can't make it stick
[
Parent ]
They are more profitable (none / 0) (#193)
by AxelBoldt on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 11:26:57 AM EST

As the link you gave confirms:

By conventional accounting practices, drug companies have profit margins of up to 20 percent. But drug companies can write off their huge research and development budgets. If pharmaceutical firms deducted only as much as other industries their profits would be about 9 percent.

In other words, because most of their cost of doing business is in R&D, and since they can deduct these costs from their taxes, they are as profitable as they are. The last sentence just says that if drug companies were willing to throw away money, then they would be less profitable.

The point stands: given current tax laws, drug companies are about twice as profitable as other companies.

[ Parent ]

Public good (3.00 / 2) (#83)
by John Thompson on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 03:32:54 PM EST

Medications are important to society and represent an overall "public good." When the free market is unable or unwilling to provide this public good at a price the public can pay, the government should step in to provide it in their stead.

If we can afford to pour over $100 billion dollars down that rat hole called Iraq with nothing to show for it, almost as much on a completely unnecessary missle defense, and many other examples of corporate welfare our government sponsors, surely we can afford to make affordable medications for our citizens.



Public good (none / 1) (#84)
by skyknight on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 03:38:21 PM EST

Software is important to society and represents an overall "public good." When the free market is unable or unwilling to provide this public good at a price the public can pay, the government should step in to provide it in their stead.

If we can afford to pour over $100 billion dollars down that rat hole called Iraq with nothing to show for it, almost as much on a completely unnecessary missle defense, and many other examples of corporate welfare our government sponsors, surely we can afford to make affordable software for our citizens.



It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
Fine... (none / 1) (#86)
by John Thompson on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 03:48:19 PM EST

skyknight wrote:

Software is important to society and represents an overall "public good." When the free market is unable or unwilling to provide this public good at a price the public can pay, the government should step in to provide it in their stead.

If we can afford to pour over $100 billion dollars down that rat hole called Iraq with nothing to show for it, almost as much on a completely unnecessary missle defense, and many other examples of corporate welfare our government sponsors, surely we can afford to make affordable software for our citizens.

But in this case, the free market has already produced the affordable software our citizens can use; cf. linux, *BSD, etc. :-)



[ Parent ]
that may be true now (none / 0) (#88)
by Delirium on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 04:14:59 PM EST

But it wasn't 5 years ago. So perhaps the government should've been subsidizing Windows purchases 5 years ago, or paying to develop a free replacement?

[ Parent ]
I'm glad to see... (none / 0) (#91)
by skyknight on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 04:21:18 PM EST

that we're coming to precisely the absurd conclusions for which I was hoping.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
I don't support that, FWIW (none / 0) (#92)
by Delirium on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 04:32:43 PM EST

It was a question, not my viewpoint. =]

IMO, there would've been an argument along these lines for subsidizing Windows or placing price controls on it, as it was becoming virtually a necessity and Microsoft was beginning to charge arbitrarily high prices for it.

However, I think this also illustrates some of the problems with such courses of action, as doing so would've entrenched Windows much more strongly. When Windows costs $300 for a license, Linux starts looking a lot more attractive, and so its adoption is much speedier. Every time a new Windows OS comes out these days, I'm having increasingly good luck convincing people to save their $100-$300 and install Linux, which is no longer terrible to use.

[ Parent ]

Yeah. (none / 0) (#131)
by Djehuti on Mon Oct 18, 2004 at 11:44:59 AM EST

Linux, which is no longer terrible to use.
Really? Has it somehow gotten better in the last couple of weeks?

[ Parent ]
Another view (none / 0) (#145)
by John Thompson on Mon Oct 18, 2004 at 03:18:02 PM EST

Here's another view on the free market vs the pharmaceutical industry.



[ Parent ]
play along... (3.00 / 2) (#96)
by John Thompson on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 06:01:34 PM EST

Delirium wrote:

But it wasn't 5 years ago. So perhaps the government should've been subsidizing Windows purchases 5 years ago, or paying to develop a free replacement?

No; not all "public goods" are equally compelling. I suspect you would have a hard time making the case that subsidizing software in general (let alone Windows in particular) would provide the same benefit to society as providing medications and health care.



[ Parent ]
Monopoly =/= Free Market (none / 0) (#124)
by Thought Assassin on Mon Oct 18, 2004 at 06:50:20 AM EST

Medications are important to society and represent an overall "public good." When the free market is unable or unwilling to provide this public good at a price the public can pay, the government should step in to provide it in their stead.

Or better yet, remove the shackles that are patent laws so that the free market is able to provide it.

Then, if a free market doesn't work you can start thinking about subsidising research or manufacture, but surely we should at least try a free market approach first? It seems to work for everything else, why wouldn't it work for drug research?

[ Parent ]

it works for everything else (none / 0) (#187)
by speek on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 10:28:05 AM EST

I think you underestimate how much of our "free market" is affected by patent law, not to mention copyright, so, saying it "works for everything else" is a bit of an overstatement. That said, I think you are right that we could find better funding strategies for those markets that need it.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

everything else we've tried it for (none / 0) (#195)
by Thought Assassin on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 01:14:45 PM EST

Perhaps this is stating the obvious, but I mean it has worked where it's been tried.

[ Parent ]
so why isn't anyone else developing drugs? (none / 1) (#90)
by Delirium on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 04:20:44 PM EST

An odd thing is that the US shouldn't be the one developing all the drugs in the first place. Why don't other countries get off their asses and start some research? The EU has more people than the US, and about the same sized economy. Why aren't various top universities in the EU doing good research that can lead to cures?

The US doesn't develop all the drugs /nt (none / 0) (#99)
by MrHanky on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 07:00:12 PM EST




"This was great, because it was a bunch of mature players who were able to express themselves and talk politics." Lettuce B-Free, on being a total fucking moron for Ron Paul.
[ Parent ]
Care to name some recent examples? (none / 0) (#201)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 01:59:05 PM EST

'cause I can't think of any - although I'm hardly an expert in the field.

I'll tell you why I don't listen. I can only read so much of your stupid a-- b--- s--- before I lose all faith in the future of humanity and start sort
[ Parent ]
See for yourself (none / 0) (#227)
by MrHanky on Wed Oct 20, 2004 at 07:47:56 AM EST

Just find pharmaceutical companies from outside the US and look at their product portfolio. For instance, Nycomed produce and market products developed in several European countries.

OTOH, I saw an article in a local newspaper the other day about medical science in Norway's universities (sorry, the article doesn't seem to exist in other form than the dead tree edition, and I can't find it). Apparently, the research has been far removed from the commercial interests of pharmaceutical companies, so the development of marketable products has been left for others. But that doesn't mean the research doesn't happen or is without value.


"This was great, because it was a bunch of mature players who were able to express themselves and talk politics." Lettuce B-Free, on being a total fucking moron for Ron Paul.
[ Parent ]

Good luck with that. (none / 0) (#237)
by porkchop_d_clown on Wed Oct 20, 2004 at 12:11:29 PM EST

One thing I realized after we began this discussion - all the large pharma companies have become utterly transnational. Companies I thought were American are half European and companies that people thought were European employ tens of thousands of people in the USA.

This has interesting implications for the world drug market - and actually reinforces the argument that the USA is subsidizing low drug costs in the rest of the world, since the pharma companies know they can make a ton of money here even if they sell for much less elsewhere.

Which means that if the USA does start seriously controlling drug prices, you could start seeing higher prices everywhere else.

I'll tell you why I don't listen. I can only read so much of your stupid a-- b--- s--- before I lose all faith in the future of humanity and start sort
[ Parent ]

Aspirin (3.00 / 4) (#119)
by dhk on Mon Oct 18, 2004 at 03:17:04 AM EST

Ever heard of this one? OK, then you have at least part of the answer to Why don't other countries get off their asses and start some research?
In fact, the European pharmaceutical devolopment is far from non existent: approx. 16 Billion US$ in contrast to approx. 25 Billion on the US side p.a. However, the main problems seem to be in other areas:

- A great many of new drugs have small to nonexistent benefit over established ones
- drugs which are used not to cure manifest diseases, for instance drugs against hyperlipidemia, are proven to have more adverse reactions than benefits
-drugs agains diseases which are rather seldom, the so called "orphan drugs" can not be developed with economic benefit.

- please forgive my bad english, I'm not a native speaker
[ Parent ]
ROTFL. (none / 0) (#202)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 02:02:01 PM EST

You had to dig up a hundred year old example?!?

Can you point to a single "blockbuster" medication produced in the last 10 years by a European company?

Actually - I have to say that's probably impossible; I'm pretty sure all the big pharmas are trans-national with US and European subsidiaries. I know Merck likes to do medical studies in the UK because the regulations aren't as tough to work with.

I'll tell you why I don't listen. I can only read so much of your stupid a-- b--- s--- before I lose all faith in the future of humanity and start sort
[ Parent ]

European drugs and pharmaceutical companies (none / 0) (#229)
by Filip on Wed Oct 20, 2004 at 08:46:53 AM EST

Prilosec, Nexium and Crestor from AstraZeneca.

Astra was a Swedish company that researched Prilosec, then merged with the British Zeneca.

Also, we had a Swedish company called Pharmacia, which merged with Upjohn, Monsanto, and Pfizer in the span of 10 years IIRC.

Medical research in Europe has traditionally worked a bit differently from the US, in that the research has been conducted at universities to a higher degree. So, I could easily argue that 'merican pharmaceutical companies have been getting a free ride on research funded by European taxpayers - but in turn they have patented a lot more. This could very well be the reason some European pharmaceutical companies are fading. (Though I can't say I think it's a very clear trend.)

BTW, are there any other 'merican pharmaceutical companies than Pfizer? I sure haven't heard of any, and if you are allowed to draw conclusions from ignorance, so am I...

Two final notes:
1) A Swedish university has successfully researched a drug to cure diarrhea (a very common cause of death in the third world). The drug is cheap to produce and not patented. Still no company will produce it.
2) Recent research has shown that Aspirin is probably a good treatment for Parkinson's decease. However, no pharmaceutical company will sponsor further research - since the result will not be patentable.
Go figure.


-- I'm just a figment of your imagination.
[ Parent ]
Prilosec is 20 years old. (none / 0) (#236)
by porkchop_d_clown on Wed Oct 20, 2004 at 12:04:26 PM EST

First, Astra Zeneca may have been born from British and Swedish companies, but like Glaxo, Merck and Pfizer they are now splattered all over the world. In particular, AZ now does a ton of R&D in the US - there's a whole "pharma corridor" in my area which is lined with huge R&D facilities for every company under the sun. Heck, West Point, PA might as well be renamed "Merck, PA" - it's basically a one company town and Merck has at least 100 buildings and factories in the area.

This is why I pointed out in another post that this whole argument may be moot, there are no large "national" drug companies anymore - probably because they couldn't afford the R&D costs.

In any case, your examples are poor. Prilosec is very old news. Nexium is Prilosec repackaged in order to get a patent extension - exactly the sort of thing people are complaining about. Crestor, similarly, is yet-another-statin. A new tweak on a therapy that's been around for quite a while.

Finally, I'm not sure what your final two points have to do with anything, except that drug companies think with their wallets, which isn't under dispute.


I'll tell you why I don't listen. I can only read so much of your stupid a-- b--- s--- before I lose all faith in the future of humanity and start sort
[ Parent ]

Wallets don't think (none / 0) (#242)
by Filip on Wed Oct 20, 2004 at 02:46:06 PM EST

My two last points indicate that the pharmaceutical companies are happy to put 800 million dollars into researching a drug, which they can sell to rich westerners, so that these rich westerners will live a little longer despite the fact that they eat the wrong food, don't exercise, smoke etc. BUT, pharmaceutical companies are not exactly doing a service to mankind. So why should I care about these companies at all? They have gotten their due, and more.

What constitutes a problem to me, is that these companies block research that is good for people, in order to line their wallets. If they can do that, they have too much power. Some of that power is that they have been standing on the shoulders of research done elsewhere.

Well, there is the other thing that I pay for some of the research that they use with my taxes. Paying taxes is Ok for me, but what disturbs me is that some people in this dispute are complaining that US citizens pay for research that benefits us living outside the US. We Europeans do the very same thing for you. And if the average US'ian/EU'ian did not set the agenda - a lot of research that is both cheaper and important to more people, would be conducted.

Lastly, your first point. The fact that AZ does research in 'merica too, is about as relevant as the fact that the companies you mention does research in Europe, and other parts of the world. You asked for data, I supplied said data. You say people from other countries are leeching on US'ian customers. I say US'ian pharmaceutical companies are leeching on the European academia - paid for by European taxpayers.

So, did you have a point?


-- I'm just a figment of your imagination.
[ Parent ]
Well, there are... (none / 0) (#239)
by dhk on Wed Oct 20, 2004 at 01:03:09 PM EST

a number of quite successful or at least well known drugs:

- Lipobay, Ciprobay and Aspirin from Bayer,
- Losec from AstraZeneca has a worldwide turnover of 6,1 Billion US$ last year.
- Diovan by Novartis yielded a turnover of approx. 1,5 Billion US$

But I think it's childish to enter in a "who had the highest turnover"-contest. The point of my comment simply was to show that "why isn't anyone else developing drugs? is bit inadequate. When this renders you rolling on the floor laughing: fine with me, go on!

- please forgive my bad english, I'm not a native speaker
[ Parent ]
Different focus ... (none / 0) (#141)
by cdguru on Mon Oct 18, 2004 at 02:25:43 PM EST

Drug development for the US market is pointed at those drugs that will sell the most. Drug development for non-US markets is quite different - you are more likely to see drugs for someone else besides the 45-70 age group.

[ Parent ]
Because the US is where they make money. (none / 0) (#200)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 01:58:03 PM EST

Supposedly, Euro pharma companies have faded away because of the price caps. Dunno whether that's really true, or just big-pharma propaganda, though.

I'll tell you why I don't listen. I can only read so much of your stupid a-- b--- s--- before I lose all faith in the future of humanity and start sort
[ Parent ]
And yet with price caps, the drug co's make money (none / 1) (#100)
by lukme on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 07:34:35 PM EST

If they didn't, they would not offer to sell the drug to that country with that price cap.




-----------------------------------
It's awfully hard to fly with eagles when you're a turkey.
The marginal costs of manufacturing pills... (none / 1) (#105)
by skyknight on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 08:08:22 PM EST

is zero. As such, I have no idea what you're trying to argue.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
if the marginal costs are zero -> free meds. (none / 0) (#107)
by lukme on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 08:27:08 PM EST

The point that I am arguing is that no company will enter into agreement with any group, foreign or otherwise, which will cause it to loose money.

You really believe that the US drug companies give medication for free or at a loss to canada? If they weren't making money, then they wouldn't enter into that contract.




-----------------------------------
It's awfully hard to fly with eagles when you're a turkey.
[ Parent ]
You don't understand marginal cost (none / 0) (#110)
by trhurler on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 08:36:46 PM EST

Look, it costs me 800 million dollars to invent a new drug, certify it as safe and effective, and so on. Then I can market it. The cost of manufacturing it once I have done all the work is really low in most cases. Canada will only let me charge a fourth as much as the US? Still more money than my manufacturing cost, so why not sell it?

BUT, someone(the US consumer) has to cover the 800 million dollars.

If everyone paid Canadian prices, yes, selling existing drugs would be profitable, but there'd be NO new drugs - ever.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
You dont understand markets (none / 0) (#122)
by Thought Assassin on Mon Oct 18, 2004 at 06:41:37 AM EST

If everyone paid Canadian prices, yes, selling existing drugs would be profitable, but there'd be NO new drugs - ever.

Ridiculous.

If we pay the cost of manufacture for the manufacture of drugs, why won't we pay the cost of development for the development of new drugs? There is still demand for drug development, and we have money left over from drug purchases, so when our purchase of drugs doesn't directly fund development, we will find another way to finance it. That is unquestionable.

Whether it is directly through public research funding, or indirectly through a system of pooled bounties for research goals (or more likely a mix of the two) remains to be seen, but of course we will continue to fund research. The only differences are that drug companies can no longer hold us to ransom for more than the research cost (because there is proper market competition for research dollars), and the cost is shared across citizens of all nations (although in proportion to their demand/ability to pay, not equally shared). And of course noone has to die in Africa because American patents won't let them make the drugs they need to live.

[ Parent ]

other means of funding (none / 1) (#129)
by speek on Mon Oct 18, 2004 at 11:32:12 AM EST

Finding those other means of funding and implementing them can't be assumed to happen, though. Right now, too many people view patents and intellectual property laws as rights, and truths in principle. Not enough people understand it as simply a funding strategy.

We (the US in particular) need to step back and get a new perspective on IP - one that views it as simply one funding strategy among many possible strategies, and maybe not the best one, either. If we did that, then I'd agree with you that, yes, we would find a way to adequately fund the initial research expense of discovering new drugs.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Congratulations (none / 0) (#164)
by kurioszyn on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 12:53:43 AM EST

" If we did that, then I'd agree with you that, yes, we would find a way to adequately fund the initial research expense of discovering new drugs."

Hehehe ...

That's a really nice euphemism for socialism you came up with ..

You would do well in politics.

[ Parent ]

Think you read that backwards (none / 0) (#172)
by Thought Assassin on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 02:09:08 AM EST

We were talking about decentralising/privatising the research market, i.e. replacing the socialistic enforced monopolies of the patent system with a capitalistic, market-based approach.

[ Parent ]
A useful template for your future postings (none / 0) (#183)
by maccha on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 08:41:51 AM EST

<insert idea you don't like> is socialism.

(Or am I just talking a load of crap?)


[ Parent ]
sorry for you (none / 0) (#189)
by speek on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 10:49:36 AM EST

It's gotta be tough to hate socialism and lack the imagination to envision non-socialistic solutions.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Nah (none / 0) (#212)
by kurioszyn on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 06:17:46 PM EST

No, it is just most of the time if someone is opposing IP they are inclined to favour "community" style solutions ...

[ Parent ]
No (none / 0) (#149)
by trhurler on Mon Oct 18, 2004 at 07:55:52 PM EST

It is not that I don't understand markets. It is that you do not understand markets. "Markets" are not government subsidies(your one suggestion.) Also, the cost of developing ONE new drug is presently at $800 million, PROVIDED IT SUCCEEDS(most fail, so the real cost of R&D is much higher.) What sort of "bounty" is going to amass that much money? We couldn't amass a hundredth that much to try to carry off the first private manned spaceflights, but you think we'll keep up our pace of hundreds of new drugs a year that way?

You must be kidding me. The solution is for governments with price caps that are too low to permit amortizing development costs to raise their caps - and if they won't do it voluntarily, we need to force them to do it by either cutting off their supply or making it unprofitable for drug companies to do business there so that THEY will cut off the supply.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Slight correction... (none / 0) (#151)
by skyknight on Mon Oct 18, 2004 at 08:13:21 PM EST

From the article I linked...

Included in the drug cost analysis are expenses of project failures and the impact that long development times have on investment costs.

I should have made that more clear originally. Although, it's still a little confusing as to what that really means in its total effect. Does it mean that on average that every drug that survives clinical trials and makes it to market costs $800M, including drugs that ultimately have really shitty revenues, and thus may well have been considered "failures", at least in the economic sense, if not the scientific sense?



It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
Ok (none / 0) (#152)
by trhurler on Mon Oct 18, 2004 at 08:15:19 PM EST

Still and all, $800 million apiece, and this guy thinks there's going to be drug development without cost amortization? Bwahahaha...

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
We should just... (none / 0) (#154)
by skyknight on Mon Oct 18, 2004 at 08:50:30 PM EST

vote ourselves rich. That's the real answer.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
Ah, yes. (none / 0) (#169)
by trhurler on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 01:34:18 AM EST

The two wolves and a sheep solution:)

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Just make sure... (none / 0) (#178)
by skyknight on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 06:59:54 AM EST

that you're a wolf, and even better, have some sheep skin clothing.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
You don't understand reading (none / 0) (#161)
by Thought Assassin on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 12:33:59 AM EST

"Markets" are not government subsidies(your one suggestion.)

Sorry, that wasn't my suggestion. If you can't understand what I wrote, I've explained it in more detail in a comment with the subject "Unnatural economics".

As you say: markets are not government subsidies, and indeed the patent system prevents a market from taking place. Get rid of it, and we have a market free from government intervention. (Yes, the government could still intervene as a player in the market if it saw fit - just like it can in any market - but no longer as an anti-competitive force.)

What sort of "bounty" is going to amass that much money? We couldn't amass a hundredth that much to try to carry off the first private manned spaceflights, but you think we'll keep up our pace of hundreds of new drugs a year that way?

Are you seriously trying to argue that the demand for drug research is not there? We are already spending far more on drugs than the costs of development and manufacture, even while preventing the poor from contributing and the rich from contributing as much as a given drug is worth to them. It is ridiculous to suggest that that demand will dry up any time soon.

[ Parent ]

So then (none / 0) (#167)
by trhurler on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 01:31:40 AM EST

Since everyone wants electricity, we can just forget about it - it'll take care of itself.

Oh, wait, that's the third grade dipshit version of "markets." Nevermind.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Huh? (none / 0) (#171)
by Thought Assassin on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 02:02:31 AM EST

Not sure I see what you're getting at; energy is privatised or semi-privatised in many countries around the world.

[ Parent ]
That's moronic (none / 0) (#181)
by dteeuwen on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 07:09:53 AM EST

The cheaper drugs from Canada are all generic. That means the drug they are copying has been on the market at least 20 years. If there were no new drugs to copy, there'd be no drugs to sell.

Since all the big Pharma companies are from the US, there will be a steady supply of drugs. It just requires more research for newer drugs.

And, the American citizen only pays about 20% of the development cost. Since American drugs are sold all over the world, essentially keeping other countries from producing their own, America will be fine.

all we're seeing here is the reaction of an industry that is not used to having any competition.

_________

Down the slopes of death he rides
The eight hooves pound like drums
Darkness reigns the crumbling sky
Invasion has begun


[ Parent ]

The solution is simple (none / 1) (#108)
by trhurler on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 08:32:31 PM EST

The US ought to tell the drug companies operating within the US(not JUST those headquartered here,) that if they continue screwing Americans in order to serve arbitrary price caps set by foriegn governments, they will be taxed by the US enough to provide the cost of drugs for anyone who doesn't make enough to cover their cost. I'm against taxes, but I'm also against the supposed right of some countries to fuck over others with laws such as price caps, price supports, and so on. When drug companies see that they will have to cut their advertising budgets AND quit dealing with countries that impose such caps, those countries will lose access to modern medicines, and then their legislators will wise up and change their idiotic laws.

The whole thing might seem rude, but hey, if other countries want a free ride, they can ride my cock.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

Ahahahahaha (1.00 / 4) (#111)
by DominantParadigm on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 08:41:39 PM EST

that if they continue screwing Americans in order to serve arbitrary price caps set by foriegn governments,

AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH

You're a complete and utter idiot. Why don't you go get a business degree so you can get a clue, you unemployable bum?



Caller:So you're advocating bombing innocent children? Howard Stern:Yes, of course!


[ Parent ]
Um... (2.00 / 2) (#113)
by trhurler on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 08:51:32 PM EST

I have a job. A better one than yours, too. Also, people with business degrees are the most useless people on earth - even in business. Have you noticed that basically every executive of every company in the US that's bigger than your tiny little cock has an engineering or sales background and a degree in either a non-business liberal arts field(economics is popular) or engineering? There's a reason for that. Business majors have one and only one future: middle management. IE, give them jobs where they will have minimal power to fuck up the company's business.

In conclusion, what does this have to do with anything?

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
that if they continue screwing Americans in order (2.00 / 2) (#114)
by DominantParadigm on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 08:56:28 PM EST

to serve arbitrary price caps set by foriegn governments,

I mean, please, you don't really believe the shit you write, do you?



Caller:So you're advocating bombing innocent children? Howard Stern:Yes, of course!


[ Parent ]
Um (1.50 / 2) (#115)
by trhurler on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 08:57:53 PM EST

What part of it isn't correct? Or do you even have any idea what you're talking about?

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
reimportation unlikely to work, nor that (none / 0) (#133)
by mattw on Mon Oct 18, 2004 at 12:37:50 PM EST

I don't expect reimportation to work. Mind you, it may work briefly. But the scenario runs like this in my head:

(1) US Permits reimportation
(2) Drug companies place quotes on Canadian shipments to limit potential collapse of lucrative US market
(3) Canadian companies nonetheless service US market, leaving Canada undersupplied.
(4) Canada legislates a no-exportation law to cut off that avenue

And we're back where we started.

The US should:

(1) Ban exporting of drugs to countries with price caps entirely or;
(2) Tax drugs exported to price capped countries in some formula relative to the price gap between US prices and the capped foreign price. Drug producers will have to add the levy in (which will likely be larger than the whole cost of the drug for most current drugs), and then we'll be reclaiming some of that money.

That said, we then run into another problem. After this runs its course, what happens when countries with loose or non-existant intellectual property protections start hijacking drugs and producing them at generic prices and selling them all around the world?

This may not be an issue, as it may be possible under a WIPO treaty or something to have generic levies on the imports from a country which imports non-IP respecting generic drugs, and it's really irrelevent if the poorest nations which could not purchase the legitimate product at anything over manufacturing cost are buying illicit generics, whereas subsidizing Canada does matter, because they're a large market and can absolutely afford to pay more.

Of course, given the political clime and this reimportation thing, I'm surprised drug companies aren't already taking steps. If I were a major drug producer going up against a country which was unfairly not paying a market rate, I'd unquestionably undersupply them. You want 100,000 doses at your gvmt-capped $10/dose? Okay, we'll sell you 75,000. We don't sacrifice much revenue, but you get all of the headache. Because I figure the political cost of being 25% undersupplied is about the same as the political cost of being 90% undersupplied. 25% is enough for everyone to know there's a shortage, whether they get some or not.

It'll be interesting to see where this goes, but as an American, I figure things can only get better for me regardless of what happens, since we're getting shafted right now.


[Scrapbooking Supplies]
[ Parent ]

Nah (none / 0) (#166)
by trhurler on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 01:25:57 AM EST

No worries about the ripoff thing; countries that are liable to do that already do it, and countries that don't have good reasons not to do so. Sure, Europeans could start copying our drugs without paying, but we could boot all their drug companies out of the US and start baldly copying everything that comes out of Europe without permission, too - and between us and them, they probably have more to lose going that road, since so many drug companies operate in the US for regulatory reasons but are European by nationality. Sure, Australia could build drug plants and start stealing our goods, but we could embargo them straight into the third world, too. And so on. You can't keep certain African countries from doing whatever they want, but you can't keep them from doing that NOW either.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Problem: globalization (none / 0) (#252)
by tetsuwan on Thu Oct 21, 2004 at 10:34:26 AM EST

You know, while you were looking in the other direction, drug companies merged all over the place. A lot of the major companies have huge research facilities in several countries. It's not exactly like modern medicines are produced in the USA alone. Remember: the US is a consumption economy, many other developed countries are export economies. They wouldn't be if they hadn't anything to export, would they?

Your isolationist phantasies would certainly only bring havoc. The US is part of a interdependent world economy, as most other countries except North Korea.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

Bush had a Slam Dunk (1.12 / 8) (#117)
by thelizman on Mon Oct 18, 2004 at 12:08:31 AM EST

So Kerry and the Democrats are now harping on how much better it would be if we allowed people to buy drugs from Canada (to say nothing of Mexico).

Reality check, folks. We depended on Brittain to get us flu vaccines. Look how well that turned out; the vaccine they were producing was ineffective, defective, and potentially dangerous in its own right.

So back to square one; how do we make drug production and distribution cheaper in this country?
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
This agument is retarded. (none / 0) (#180)
by dteeuwen on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 07:05:46 AM EST

When Bush makes staements that the drugs from Canada cannot be trusted, he's basically saying that the FDA is not doing it's job.

The FDA comes to Canada to inspect plants that produce drugs for the American market. They inspects drugs and take samples of every batch that crosses the border.

To say that you can't trust drugs from outside your country is to say that your country cannot regulate itself and is likely producing shoddy drugs of its own anyway.

What do people think, these drugs re being shipped in over noght on boats across the St. Lawrence River? Are they flown in from Cuba?

God, use some logic and learn a lesson: when Bush makes blanket statements, run for cover.

_________

Down the slopes of death he rides
The eight hooves pound like drums
Darkness reigns the crumbling sky
Invasion has begun


[ Parent ]

No - that's misdirection. (none / 0) (#199)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 01:54:58 PM EST

The problem of the safety of drug imports has nothing to do with drug factories or reputable pharmacies - it has to do with the risk of buying anything over the internet from an unknown source.

I spent a year working for a big pharma company and it was something of an eye opener. A cheap color laser printer, plastic bottles and a pill press are all you need to fake any medication you like, and it happens all the time - even retail pharmacies have been known to dilute or substitute drugs in order to boost their profits and (supposedly) in some areas of the world more than 50% of the prescription medicines are bogus.

The best part is that it's a nearly invisible crime. If you order a bunch of pills over the 'net and you don't get better - do you immediately suspect that the medicines are fake? Or do you just go back to your doctor and complain and get put on a different medicine, or a different treatment?

I'll tell you why I don't listen. I can only read so much of your stupid a-- b--- s--- before I lose all faith in the future of humanity and start sort
[ Parent ]

Good Point (none / 0) (#203)
by dteeuwen on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 02:10:43 PM EST

But the overall idea he espouses would really piss me off if I was director of CDER.

_________

Down the slopes of death he rides
The eight hooves pound like drums
Darkness reigns the crumbling sky
Invasion has begun


[ Parent ]

Simply, Retarded. (Flame Alert) (none / 0) (#217)
by thelizman on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 08:05:26 PM EST

When Bush makes staements that the drugs from Canada cannot be trusted, he's basically saying that the FDA is not doing it's job.
When did Bush make that argument? For that matter, where the hell did this come from? I mean, are you really responding to my post, or are you randomly inserting your two cents? Newsflash bucko - Bush directed the FDA to acquire replacement stocks of vaccine from Canada.
The FDA comes to Canada to inspect plants that produce drugs for the American market. They inspects drugs and take samples of every batch that crosses the border.
Yeah, so? Those plants are producing drugs for American pharmaceutical companies to distribute. Those inspectors are able to do that because a) the FDA can block imports of those drugs, and b) the drug companies find it more convenient to have it done at the factory then at the border. However, this has nothing to do with the Kerry/DNC notion that America would benefit if they would open the flood gates and allow people to order their own supplies direct from foreign manufacturers, and the FDA would have no juridiction to perform quality control on these transactions.
To say that you can't trust drugs from outside your country is to say that your country cannot regulate itself and is likely producing shoddy drugs of its own anyway.
Is english your second language, or do you say dumb fucking self-contradictory shit like that all the time? I can't even being to address the logical fallacy that is that sentence. Non sequiter comes to mind, as does presupposition, but its obvious you're too fucking dumb to even bother with.
What do people think, these drugs re being shipped in over noght on boats across the St. Lawrence River? Are they flown in from Cuba?
Clearly, you've never lived in a border state. Yes. They are. Smuggling of prescription medicine is big business in border states, where coyotes get multiple bogus prescriptions and drive south of the border to unscrupulous or simply unwary pharmacies and buy in bulk. Of course, doing this is illegal in Mexico as well as the US, it still goes on because doctors on the flip side of the border need that big american dollar to keep their clinics going. You see, in mexico, you don't have an epidemic of malpractice suits, doctors in small community clinics do alot of low-cost or gratis work, and sometimes that work is funded with less than legal activities, like bilking gringos out of money for diluted medications. Hell, if you live in a places like Corpus Christi, Brownsville, Lukeville, and so on, you'll find that lots of people go to Mexico for their dental work because its cheaper domestic dental plans with copays on average.
God, use some logic and learn a lesson: when Bush makes blanket statements, run for cover.
Factcheck.org. Seems like when Bush makes blanket statements, the numbers may be a little off, but when Kerry makes blanket statements, they're on the wrong side of the planet. Stop hating Bush, and started getting a clue about the issues you retarded fucking tool.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
Hey, (none / 0) (#234)
by dteeuwen on Wed Oct 20, 2004 at 11:38:46 AM EST

I don't care which bozo gets elected down there. All I'm saying, as others have aknowledged, is that Bush opposes Canadian drugs and makes statements that they are not garunteed to be safe. This implies that only drugs from the US are safe.

And, as for drugs being snuck across the bordor, moron, I am obviously not referring to illeagal drugs. You should really think through at least some of your redneck argument.

And, as for Bush ordering flu vaccine from Canada, I find that hilariously ironic, seeing as he cannot garuntee the safety of it.

_________

Down the slopes of death he rides
The eight hooves pound like drums
Darkness reigns the crumbling sky
Invasion has begun


[ Parent ]

You're Candian? Well that explains it! (none / 0) (#246)
by thelizman on Wed Oct 20, 2004 at 07:14:38 PM EST

Bush opposes Canadian drugs and makes statements that they are not garunteed to be safe.
Where has he said this? Show me where Bush has said Canada is an unsafe source of medicines. You can't, because he hasn't. Honestly, if Bush is getting our flu vaccines from Canadian companies, why would he then say Canadian suppliers are unsafe?
And, as for drugs being snuck across the bordor, moron, I am obviously not referring to illeagal drugs
When I said "Smuggling of prescription medicine is big business", how did you read "illegal drugs"? Seriously, can you not read english?

You're a tool. You're one of Lenin's 'useful idiots'. You're a soulless meat-puppet consuming oxygen and food that could better suit someone who actually thinks for themselves. Please kill yourself soon, and do the world a favor.

Notice For all you Canucks out there reading this, its okay; I've known enough Canadians to know that this shit-brick is the exception, not the rule. Except for the French Canadians. But then...they're French.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
Dear, sorry, brainwashed, typical, American (none / 0) (#249)
by dteeuwen on Thu Oct 21, 2004 at 08:15:17 AM EST

I don't think I could prove my point any clearer than this, you blind ass-hole:

http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Canada/2004/08/18/589732-ap.html

Now, because you are so sure of your silly views, I realize you will refute this in some way, but, it clearly implies that Canada, a country with more time for drug inspections than your sorry, sinking oligarchy, will allow inferior drugs into its own country, and then pass them on to you.

_________

Down the slopes of death he rides
The eight hooves pound like drums
Darkness reigns the crumbling sky
Invasion has begun


[ Parent ]

You = Ignorant Tool (none / 1) (#250)
by thelizman on Thu Oct 21, 2004 at 08:36:38 AM EST

From your linked article which alleges to prove Bush questions the safety of Canadian manufactured drugs:
"What I don't want is somebody to say: 'Oh gosh, I'd be able to buy a cheaper drug from Canada' and (then) that drug ends up coming from another country without proper inspection and proper safety."
Once and for all, Bush has never claimed CANADA produces unsafe drugs.
... it clearly implies that Canada... will allow inferior drugs into its own country, and then pass them on to you.
That's not the allegation you were making. You had stated that Bush made the charge that Canada produces unsafe drugs. Now, when you can't find any evidence to back up your slanderous lies, you instead change the charge.


--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
Hey, fine (none / 0) (#251)
by dteeuwen on Thu Oct 21, 2004 at 08:59:41 AM EST

If your not gonna stick to the argument stated throughout the thread, you probably shouldn't argue.

_________

Down the slopes of death he rides
The eight hooves pound like drums
Darkness reigns the crumbling sky
Invasion has begun


[ Parent ]

HA HA HA HA! (none / 0) (#254)
by thelizman on Thu Oct 21, 2004 at 11:54:05 AM EST

You claim Bush stated explicitly that Canada produces unsafe drugs. I ask you for proof. You refuse. Then you change your argument. I beat down your argument, expose your meandering circular logic, and your final retort is I am the one unable to 'stick to the argument'? Which argument? You keep changing and twisting your own words because your position is indefensible, and you are incapable of admitting your wrong! The bad part is that the ONLY reason you do this is beause you'd rather build up a house of lies around you than admit that you really don't have a good reason for hating Bush like you do. That's what makes you a 'useful idiot'.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
[ Parent ]
The real problems (3.00 / 8) (#120)
by brain in a jar on Mon Oct 18, 2004 at 04:01:27 AM EST

As others have pointed out the American consumer is not really subsidising drug consumers in other markets. The American consumer is subsidising the artficially high profits of the Pharmaceutical industry.

The industry owes its huge profitability to the rather distorted social contract that presently exists between the industry and society. The industry's profits are derived from the artificial monopoly (the Patent) which society has granted it. In exchange for this the companies are expected to invest in producing new treatments, and produce drugs at halfway reasonable prices.

Instead the industry invests only a small proportion of its income into research and development. The largest proportion of spending in the industry is on marketing, which is several times greater than that on R&D. Worse, a large proportion of research spending is on what have come to be known as "me too" drugs. That is drugs which are very similar to existing drugs, which are either controlled by a competitor, or whose patent will soon expire. This is clearly wasteful since these drugs provide little or no added value to society, the are simply and attempt to make money out of reinventing the pharmaceutical wheel. This is particularly galling when we remember that the industry is only profitable because of the artificial monopoly we choose to grant it, a little more gratitude would be welcome.

In addition even if we do accept the proposition that we should avoid price controls, so that we can subsidize the production of new drugs, this is a horribly inefficient way to do things. At present a large proportion of new drugs (especially the more innovative ones) are discovered in publicly funded academic institutions and the results of the research handed over to business. Thus if we want to increase drug R&D it is far more efficient to increase the direct funding for academic drug R&D, than it is to give money to big pharma, the majority of which will be used for marketing or will be passed on to shareholders as profits.

To summarise, the pharmaceutical industry owes its profitability to the patent rights which the people have chosen to grant it. They have no sacred right to the huge profits which they presently make, and contrary to what their spokesmen tell us, the majority of the money they make does not go into providing new and useful drugs. The people, through the government, can and should re-asess the privaleges they have granted the industry, and look if the money cannot in some cases be better spent elsewhere.

America needs:

Price controls.

More direct investment in drug development.

Greater independence in the conduct of clinical trials.

Limitations on the marketing of pharmaceuticals to patients.

Rules controlling the giving of gifts to doctors in exchange for prescribing certain drugs.

A pharmaceutical industry that provides society with value for money.


Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.

That's not entirely true. (none / 0) (#121)
by sneakin on Mon Oct 18, 2004 at 06:38:42 AM EST

As others have pointed out the American consumer is not really subsidising drug consumers in other markets. The American consumer is subsidising the artficially high profits of the Pharmaceutical industry.

That's false. It only takes some basic algebra to figure out that we are subsidizing other markets. I refer you to my article Blame Canada (For Your High Drug Costs). I did some math and proved just the opposite of your claim.

- Nolan
http://nolan.eakins.net/
[ Parent ]
what a bunch of bull. (none / 1) (#134)
by Run4YourLives on Mon Oct 18, 2004 at 12:44:40 PM EST

First off, not all drug prices are regulated in Canada, only those under patent. Second, generic drug prices in the states are actually cheaper than in Canada. Third, Canadian insurers negotiate prices based on the enourmous quantity purchased.

Not our fault we're smart businessmen, and it has nothing to do with socialism.

There's only one reason the US has such high drug prices: There are no controls to limit how much money the Pharmas can realistically make.


It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

Yeah, fucking right .. (none / 0) (#163)
by kurioszyn on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 12:49:43 AM EST

Nothing do with socialism ?

The fact that to sell drugs at your place one has to bend over and accept prices set by the goverment  has nothing to do with socialism ?

" There are no controls to limit how much money the Pharmas can realistically make."

Yeah,that's called socialism.


[ Parent ]

but (none / 1) (#184)
by puppet10 on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 08:48:48 AM EST

The 'socialism' is only imposed on drugs covered by a the government imposed patent system giving one company an artificial exclusive right to produce them. So the price controls are there to prevent unreasonable prices from a government granted monopoly. I don't hear the pharma companies all clamoring for the government of Canada or the US to remove the restrictive patent system which is stifling the free market.

[ Parent ]
No. (none / 0) (#213)
by kurioszyn on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 06:22:03 PM EST

These are not "artificial" rights, no more than these that protect you and others from being robbed from the fruits of your hard work ( be it in a literal or figurative sense.)

One can argue about how restrictive IP system should be, but this is not a fucking handout ..


[ Parent ]

Yes ... (3.00 / 2) (#247)
by S_hane on Thu Oct 21, 2004 at 02:36:54 AM EST

...they are artificial rights.

Compare the two situations. In one, your property is taken from you. You have lost something, to another's gain.

In another, someone starts building a similar device to one that you invented. What, exactly, have you lost? Certainly nothing material, only the shadowy spectre of future lost profits. Yet we currently recognise that future profits are not sacred. A company does not have a "right" to make money - they must earn it. What natural right makes an inventor somehow exempt from future competition?

Patents and Copyright are absolutely artificial monopolies granted by the government in exchange for that material entering the public domain after the monopoly expires. These artificial monopolies were devised to encourage people to create works or invent devices. They do this, or used to, to a certain extent. But they are indeed completely artificial.

puppet10 makes a good point. Why are the artificial anti-free-market monopolies that help the drug companies "good", yet the artificial anti-free-market price restrictions that help the people "bad"?

[ Parent ]

OMG you're retarded. (none / 1) (#142)
by Fon2d2 on Mon Oct 18, 2004 at 02:29:29 PM EST

Your article just says the same things as the original story. The parent comment had specific rebuttals which your article does not address. Your article doesn't show that the prices in foreign countries are too low to recoup costs. No facts. No statistics. Your article doesn't prove anything.

[ Parent ]
Your thought experiment (3.00 / 2) (#175)
by brain in a jar on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 04:27:24 AM EST

is somewhat lacking. Basic economics tells us that a company maximises profits. They do not, set their price based on a formula that says "our costs plus a percentage". The company simply looks at how demand for their drug varies depending on the price they charge. They then set the price such that profits are maximised. The costs of development are only weakly related to the price of the drug (because these costs are fixed and do not vary with the level of production). The factors that dominate the companies pricing decision are the costs of manufacturing of the drug and what the market will stand. This is why if Canada was paying more for drugs, America would not be paying significantly less. The drug company maximises profit, they will charge what the market will stand. Seeing as they have a monopoly (on a given drug) they will also always charge more and produce less units of the drug, than they would in a competitive market (which would be more efficient).

In fact seeing as the position of the pharmaceutical company as a monopolist causes it to produce less than it would in a competitive market, it could even be argued that price controls could make the market more efficient (a result some would find counter-intuitive).


Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.
[ Parent ]

Price Controls (none / 0) (#271)
by MicroBerto on Fri Oct 22, 2004 at 03:53:28 PM EST

You want price controls? I'll tell you all about price controls - it's called OPEN COMPETITION.

It works in every other damned industry, why not drugs?

The more you people keep screwing with production, the more talented people you scare out of it. Just look at the Flu Shot disaster. Nobody wants to produce that stuff anymore because they don't get to make money! So why bother?

It's hard to believe, but the more you try to help, the more you hurt.

Berto
- GAIM: MicroBerto
Bertoline - My comic strip
[ Parent ]

In case you're not trolling (none / 0) (#272)
by Thought Assassin on Fri Oct 22, 2004 at 10:48:53 PM EST

You want price controls? I'll tell you all about price controls - it's called OPEN COMPETITION.

It works in every other damned industry, why not drugs?

In case you just haven't bothered to read the rest of the discussion, the drug industry is encumbered by patent monopolies and cannot have any semblance of competition. As much as the patent system is crippling this and other research markets, there are too many corporate lobbyists with too much spending power for the situation to change anytime soon. Once you accept that (for the moment) the government is not going to allow competition in this market, it makes sense to ask what the government can do to ease the worst of the symptoms of the patent disease.

Please don't let it stop you agitating for a free market (we can't get rid of the patent system soon enough), but we can't just neglect the wounded until the battle's over.

[ Parent ]

open source pharmeceuticals (3.00 / 2) (#123)
by tris on Mon Oct 18, 2004 at 06:49:58 AM EST

I think if some one set up an online community and a freely usuable GPL like licence thing for Pharmeceuticals students would make use of it.

It already exists (none / 1) (#221)
by Polverone on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 09:07:12 PM EST

The Hive, where you become your own physician, pharmacist, AND manufacturer!
--
It's not a just, good idea; it's the law.
[ Parent ]
Great article - and I loved the line ... (none / 0) (#128)
by nlscb on Mon Oct 18, 2004 at 10:00:35 AM EST

The present system is not just, and the terrible truth of the matter is that the only way that things will get better is probably for them first to get worse.

This sentence not only sums up the perscription drug crisis, but just about every other major problem (entitlements, the other drug war, immigration, etc...) that the US currently faces. America is in for a dark 20 years or so.

Comment Search has returned - Like a beaten wife, I am pathetically grateful. - mr strange

There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch (none / 1) (#130)
by bob6 on Mon Oct 18, 2004 at 11:38:26 AM EST

It's either cheap drugs, either cheap oil. A pity you picked the wrong choice.

Seriously I found this article who challenges your opinion.

Cheers.
Interesting article (none / 0) (#196)
by Thought Assassin on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 01:31:08 PM EST

A lot of significant points made, but I'm going pick one related to what I see as the central problem:
The patent monopolies on popular drugs are leading competing drug firms to spend their research dollars on finding a different solution to the problem already solved by the patented drug. In other words, it's directing funding away from necessary and innovate research towards pointless and derivative research.

Drug patents (and probably the great majority of patents, to tell the truth) are causing many more problems than they are solving, if indeed they are solving any at all. It has to stop.

[ Parent ]

I agree 100% (none / 0) (#225)
by bob6 on Wed Oct 20, 2004 at 03:10:21 AM EST

More generally, I think that intellectual property as we know (inherited from) is becoming obsolete; time to move on.

Cheers.
[ Parent ]
That's incredibly naive. (none / 0) (#230)
by skyknight on Wed Oct 20, 2004 at 09:28:39 AM EST

What the hell will the economic model be for the creation of intellectual property? Perhaps you want 100% taxes and to have the government do everything?

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
Uh... no. Do you? (none / 0) (#231)
by bob6 on Wed Oct 20, 2004 at 10:07:53 AM EST

IP was originally created for printed books, it's incredibly naive to think the same model will fit to drug research.

Btw I don't really get the point of your remark about taxes and government funding (of research I suppose). What's that supposed to mean?

Cheers.
[ Parent ]
What I'm saying... (none / 0) (#232)
by skyknight on Wed Oct 20, 2004 at 10:18:11 AM EST

is that it's easy to point out the flaws in IP law, but it's extremely difficult to find a better alternative, and I don't see you suggesting one. It's sort of like how democracy is an incredibly shitty form of government, but of the ones we've tried so far it is the least terrible (maybe).

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
I don't feel qualified to suggest an alternative (none / 0) (#233)
by bob6 on Wed Oct 20, 2004 at 10:51:03 AM EST

The main difficulty, imho, are the powerful interest against any change. In the case of democracy, these interests represent the vast middle class of 1st world countries. In the case of IP laws, it represents everyone who makes money with it.

Even if I can't express any alternative, I feel 1) something's currently very wrong and 2) there must be an alternative:
1) Because IP is one of the reasons drug research doesn't benefit to everybody, I may be naive and idealist but it's in my guts...
1') Even if PharmaCorp does some research and patents Efficient Medecine, IP law occults the fact that the whole society participated to this research and only rewards PharmaCorp.
2) I can't make up alternatives but I can listen and judge argumented and/or experimented propositions. There have been alternatives like open source in the software field or, more topical, drug patent breaking by some countries (Brazil and South Africa, iirc).

Cheers.
[ Parent ]
Alternatives (none / 0) (#294)
by mikera7 on Wed Oct 27, 2004 at 04:00:38 AM EST

I think that there are loads of alternatives to the current IP mess - you just have to be imaginative.

One idea I've been playing with is that of bunch of taxpayer taxpayer funded "X-Prizes" for specific innovations, e.g. $50m for a malaria vaccine, $10m for a solar panel that produces some stated level of efficiency etc.

Any company that meets the criteria gets the prize (hence it is profitable to engage in successful research!) but once the prize is awarded anyone can use the technique and the free market can take over.

I believe that the overall costs of such a programme would be fairly trivial compared to the vast current cost to society of the IP enforcement system and market inefficiencies caused by resulting monopolistic pricing.

[ Parent ]

Maybe... (none / 0) (#295)
by skyknight on Wed Oct 27, 2004 at 09:56:27 PM EST

That's not an altogether terrible idea. However, I could see there being problems with it. You might end up having people race to get the prize by putting out something shoddy. How would you determine what was a viable candidate? That'd be a lot harder than you would think, and there would be no end of cries of unfairness.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
Origins (none / 1) (#262)
by cpt kangarooski on Fri Oct 22, 2004 at 01:08:21 AM EST

IP was originally created for printed books

No, the first 'IP' if we're really going to use such a broad and worthless term, was pretty certainly a trade secret. Could've been a trademark, but I think those appeared a bit later.

Patents date back to 15th century Venice, and copyrights are in fact the newest major body of IP law, originating in 1710.

--
All my posts including this one are in the public domain. I am a lawyer. I am not your lawyer, and this is not legal advice.
[ Parent ]

Trade secrets are not IP. (none / 0) (#266)
by Filip on Fri Oct 22, 2004 at 04:44:46 AM EST

Trade secrets is a category on it's own - and if someone steals a trade secret from you, there is a special set of laws for handling that.

In short, trade secrets are not patentable or copyrightable - their only value is in that they are kept secret. If the secret is leaked, you can do nothing about it (except sue for damage). This is because the secret is in idea that is not a property. OTOH if someone bootlegs your books/music, you can sue for damage and expect to keep selling your music/books. The same goes for patents.

When you compare the oldest law on patents you can find, with a particular copyright law from 1710, you are comparing apples to oranges.

Before the printing press, copyright law wasn't relevant - but with the arrival of the printing press in the 15th century (same as patent law in Venice), new opportunities arose - both in printing and in piracy. The British crown solved this by granting monopolies, exactly the same as patents was being handled at that time (if they were deemed a public good).

The first law which treated patents as a right of the inventor, was a french law from 1791 - one year after copyright was included in the constitution of the US.

Trademarks are a lot younger. The Lanham act (federal trademark law) is from 1946, before that there were state laws - the first from 1881.

Sources - searches on google:
copyright law history
patent law history
trademark law history


-- I'm just a figment of your imagination.
[ Parent ]
Tell that to everyone at all involved in IP (none / 0) (#269)
by cpt kangarooski on Fri Oct 22, 2004 at 11:45:25 AM EST

Everyone, everyone, considers there to be four broad categories of IP law: Copyrights, Patents, Trademarks, and Trade Secrets.

I know this, having taken IP survey classes in my JD program, being an IP LL.M. now at one of the best IP schools in the US, and generally being interested in the field.

But IP is just a loose lumping together. Each of those bodies of law (as well as the more minor ones also included) is pretty unrelated to the others. So they are all fairly separate, which is one of the reasons I don't like the term 'IP.'

In short, trade secrets are not patentable or copyrightable - their only value is in that they are kept secret.

Actually, works which are or embody trade secrets are copyrightable, since there is no longer any material publication or deposit requirement. And inventive trade secrets often can be patented, though this will eventually cause them to change from being protected by trade secret law to patent law. Plus of course, ancillary matters are often kept as trade secrets since people don't like to make overbroad enabling disclosures. There's more overlap than you might think.

If the secret is leaked, you can do nothing about it (except sue for damage).

Okay, and? That doesn't change what it is.

The first law which treated patents as a right of the inventor, was a french law from 1791 - one year after copyright was included in the constitution of the US.

I don't recall that the US treats them as a right even today. If the system in question grants utility patents, then it's a patent system, simple as that. Which brings us back to the Venetian Patent Statute of 1474. (And that joke about the Sybarites, circa 300 BC)

Trademarks are a lot younger. The Lanham act (federal trademark law) is from 1946, before that there were state laws - the first from 1881.

Forgot about common law trademarks, I see. The concept of trademark law has been around pretty much since forever. Merchants have always stamped or marked or branded their goods to distinguish them from other people's, and there've been laws against doing so falsely.

--
All my posts including this one are in the public domain. I am a lawyer. I am not your lawyer, and this is not legal advice.
[ Parent ]

Learn to check our facts (none / 0) (#282)
by Filip on Sun Oct 24, 2004 at 06:04:59 PM EST

Disclaimer: I only know how to google - I'm not in the least aware of US'ian law (I live in Sweden) - but as you note at the end, you are not a lawyer either.

Everyone excludes all countries that do not have a specific body of trade secret law. (Like Sweden.)

The secret is still not a property, so calling it IP is mislabeling - even if everyone does it. If you can patent it - fine, then it turns into a property. If you copyright it; how gives a damn? Nothing would keep anyone from writing a new text, not covered by copyright, on the same subject. Copyright doesn't help a trade seret squat.

Regarding patents. Until 1791 in France, no patents was granted unless it advanced society as a whole. Today, we take for granted that a patent can be applied for in more or less any area. Google turned up this site, as an example (read first five paragraphs).

As for common trademarks law, as you call it - it apparently had no effect, since a specific trademark law was needed and invented during the 19th century - and not widely accepted until the middle of the 20th century. Merchants have always been stamping someone else's stamp on their goods - if the could benefit from that...

Being at one of the best IP schools, apparently doesn't helping for learning how to use google.


-- I'm just a figment of your imagination.
[ Parent ]
Facts Checked Out (none / 0) (#284)
by cpt kangarooski on Mon Oct 25, 2004 at 12:08:27 AM EST

Everyone excludes all countries that do not have a specific body of trade secret law. (Like Sweden.)

I didn't say that any country had to implement any of these things. Just that those are the four basic bodies of law lumped together under the heading of IP law. Besides, even the US doesn't really have a seperate body of trade secret law. It's just that it's a branch of the law of unfair competition which is of particular interest to lawyers in the field, mainly those in the patent field. It's a big enough deal to get equal ranking with the others.

The secret is still not a property, so calling it IP is mislabeling - even if everyone does it.

None of them are property. This is why I think that we shouldn't use the term 'IP' at all. I myself try to avoid it as much as possible, but I do recognize that it is used a lot. Plus of course, it's confusing as to whether or not the so-called property is the subject matter or the rights pertaining to them. And they're all quite unrelated, so it's generally not a good idea IMO to lump them together at all.

no patents was granted unless it advanced society as a whole

I'm not sure if by this you are referring to the concept of utility patents or the promotion of the useful arts or what. Both are crucial to the US system and have been around since the 1790 Act, IIRC. We also used to not permit patents on socially harmful inventions, but we've since stopped, oh, in probably the mid-20th century, I guess.

As for common trademarks law, as you call it - it apparently had no effect, since a specific trademark law was needed and invented during the 19th century - and not widely accepted until the middle of the 20th century.

Well, I'm not even a bit familar with the legal system in Sweden. In the US, we get our system from England, and so we're a common law country. Basically the courts could create and slowly evolve a system of law as dictated more or less by equitable principles. Our law of contracts is largely still common law, as is most of our tort system, and some other things. While we did have to have statutes for copyrights and patents, trademarks and trade secrets have long common law histories. Eventually some statutes were passed, sometimes overiding the common law, but they're still by no means all that thorough, and thus the common law is important in those fields even today. (often this sort of thing happens when legislative bodies are upset with how the courts are acting or failing to act)

--
All my posts including this one are in the public domain. I am a lawyer. I am not your lawyer, and this is not legal advice.
[ Parent ]

Question (none / 0) (#243)
by Filip on Wed Oct 20, 2004 at 02:55:20 PM EST

Who is conducting research on drugs for people outside the richest 10% in the world?

That's right, governments.

So how is current IP law helping out, on a global scale? To most people in the world - it looks like a roadblock, put in place to make sure Africa and Asia will stay in a subordinate position.

I agree that that is a slightly paranoid interpretation of the situation - but as long as current IP law is reinforced, instead of reformed - more and more people are getting paranoid.


-- I'm just a figment of your imagination.
[ Parent ]
Patents are a moral right (none / 1) (#260)
by kurtmweber on Thu Oct 21, 2004 at 09:04:14 PM EST

Assuming one owns his own mind (which he does) then one also owns the products of his mind. Ownership is absolute. If I offer a bread recipe to you but only on the condition that you agree not to share it with anyone else, then guess what? You are obligated to abide by those terms--you agreed to them as a term of the transaction. Simple as that.

Kurt Weber
Any field of study can be considered 'complex' when it starts using Hebrew letters for symbols.--me
[ Parent ]
Fuck no. (3.00 / 2) (#263)
by cpt kangarooski on Fri Oct 22, 2004 at 01:16:29 AM EST

First, patents are a purely utilitarian doctrine. There's none of this Lockean bullshit about them. Nothing in the world compels people to be bound to the demands of an inventor other than self interest on the part of those agreeing to be bound.

Second, your example is severely broken. I will generally agree that if you premised the disclosure of a recipe on a promise, that that promise should be kept.

However, what if someone figures out that recipe by studying your bread, or the ingredients that you buy, or by trial and error? There is no promise.

And yet, if a patent were granted, those things would still not be a way around the patent.

The reason we have patents -- and feel free to look to the history of patent systems as far back as Venice or Sybaris -- is because people who are not inventors want the benefits of inventions coupled with the benefits of a totally free market in which anyone can practice the invention by and large. Since it's difficult to get both, we sacrifice a small quantity of the latter in order to gain a much larger increase in the former, thus increasing the net public good realized.

As it stands, your silly notion fails utterly to explain why we have all the strict requirements of enabling disclosures, limited terms, statutory bars, etc. Given the severe discrepancy with patent systems as implemented, and the writings of notable parties involved in setting up those systems, I'd say you're full of crap.

--
All my posts including this one are in the public domain. I am a lawyer. I am not your lawyer, and this is not legal advice.
[ Parent ]

Minor quibble (none / 0) (#264)
by Thought Assassin on Fri Oct 22, 2004 at 01:38:34 AM EST

You did a good job of pointing out the cluelessness of the post you responded to, but I think you could have described the birth of patents a little more clearly. Patents were never intended as a way of encouraging invention, only as a way of encouraging disclosure of inventions. It's the post hoc assumption that patents are meant to encourage innovation itself that has allowed the patent system to become such a mockery of its original intention.

Once you start awarding a patent for something that could never be kept secret (like software), there is no longer any upside to the deal you are striking. You are removing something from the body of human knowledge (temporarily, but at the time when it's most important!) and gaining nothing in return.

[ Parent ]

Yes, but that's somewhat changed (none / 0) (#270)
by cpt kangarooski on Fri Oct 22, 2004 at 11:50:08 AM EST

You'll note that we only grant patents on inventions to the inventor. If disclosure was the sole purpose, we'd just grant them to the first to disclose, which has been how patent systems in the past have worked. (many countries used to grant patents to the first person to bring a new technology into the country)

But we are not merely concerned with disclosure. Some inventions cannot effectively be kept a secret. In order to encourage them to be made as well, we grant patents for invention itself, provided there is also disclosure, etc. The concern is that without the patent, people wouldn't make inventions that could otherwise not be protected. The benefit of having that invention get made at all is still strong enough to justify a patent system.

--
All my posts including this one are in the public domain. I am a lawyer. I am not your lawyer, and this is not legal advice.
[ Parent ]

Only assumptions have changed (none / 1) (#277)
by Thought Assassin on Sat Oct 23, 2004 at 11:41:01 PM EST

You'll note that we only grant patents on inventions to the inventor. If disclosure was the sole purpose, we'd just grant them to the first to disclose

Indeed. So that's obviously a problem with our current implementation of patents.

The concern is that without the patent, people wouldn't make inventions that could otherwise not be protected.

But this concern is completely unfounded, or at least I've never seen any argument or evidence presented, for all that it seems to be the standard assumption. Was there no innovation in software before software patents slipped through our defenses? Don't pretend that copyrights do the same job, because a) the most innovative period for software was before copyright was considered to apply to software either, and b) copyright is such a burden on the industry that consumers are being forced to give up and provide for themselves (i.e. collaborate to write Free Software). The fact is that if people want research to be done, and people are willing to do research, the free market will find a way to make it happen, just like it does in every other market. Even while drugs are patent encumbered, people still feel the need to pay for research through taxes and charitable donations - despite knowing that they will pay again when the drugs are sold. That there is not currently a direct market for drug research is because we have a patent system that is unfairly weighted towards producers, so of course they use it. It is certainly not a natural state, so it's disingenious to assume it would continue once patents are removed from the picture. In summary, the situation has not changed, only people's understanding of it has been distorted by labouring under this broken system for so long.

[ Parent ]

Still fairly standard, though (none / 0) (#285)
by cpt kangarooski on Mon Oct 25, 2004 at 12:23:22 AM EST

So that's obviously a problem with our current implementation of patents.

All of them, I should think. The constitution demands that the initial vesting of a patent be in the inventor of the invention.

Thus if you're the second guy to invent something, even if it is totally independently of the first guy, well, screw you. You cannot get a patent. You've got to be first.

But this concern is completely unfounded, or at least I've never seen any argument or evidence presented, for all that it seems to be the standard assumption.

It is of course really difficult to objectively make sure that something like this is working. In fact, most laws are difficult to put to the test, notably because of effects caused to society by factors other than the law. Certainly I am having a similar problem in my never-ending quest to reform copyrights by radically scaling them down. (though I assume that there will be notable reductions in creation, but that we'll still be better off in the end thanks to our increased freedoms with regards to works)

So so long as the basic logic holds up, people generally seem willing to accept this premise. You may be right, but I think you'll have difficulty showing that. Certainly I'm very aware of how things have been going with software, but I'm not convinced that it's anything other than a rather special case going on there. I'd like to be convinced, however.

--
All my posts including this one are in the public domain. I am a lawyer. I am not your lawyer, and this is not legal advice.
[ Parent ]

Software (none / 0) (#286)
by Thought Assassin on Mon Oct 25, 2004 at 01:45:55 AM EST

Certainly I'm very aware of how things have been going with software, but I'm not convinced that it's anything other than a rather special case going on there.

It's an extreme case, not a special case.

Firstly, software's worth is far more closely tied to ease of modification (for customisation, debugging, interoperability) than say text, sound, images. (and publication in binary form plus the professional precision required in its creation means modification rarely fits within the boundaries of fair use)

Secondly, standards are more important with software - the usefulness of a program to each single user grows with the number of users (again more so than with text, sound, images), so a system that prevents people using software that has already been created is a poor fit.

So there are reasons why software is hit hardest by the copyright system, but it doesn't mean that other endeavours aren't hit in the same way.

[ Parent ]

Copyrights? (none / 0) (#287)
by cpt kangarooski on Mon Oct 25, 2004 at 11:23:16 AM EST

Software is interesting as it somewhat defies the expectations behind the patent system. It's not amazingly interesting from a copyright perspective. Just needs a few tweaks with regards to formalities, term lengths, and minor improvements to 117 esp. with contract preemption.

I had thought that we were mostly discussing software patents, since a mere copyright on software can't prevent people from using the same standards and methods. It's not as big a deal as you'd see if say word processors were heavily patented, making it impossible to make one of your own at all. (though there is some pushing on the matter with regards to 1201 et seq.)

(and publication in binary form plus the professional precision required in its creation means modification rarely fits within the boundaries of fair use)

Neither of those have anything to do with fair use.

--
All my posts including this one are in the public domain. I am a lawyer. I am not your lawyer, and this is not legal advice.
[ Parent ]

Copyright (none / 0) (#288)
by Thought Assassin on Mon Oct 25, 2004 at 01:17:48 PM EST

I had thought that we were mostly discussing software patents, since a mere copyright on software can't prevent people from using the same standards and methods.

Copyright is much less of a problem for software than patents, but it's still a problem. Hence Free Software.

The fair use aspect comes in because people can't usually make the minor modifications they need for themselves. Once they have to contract someone else to do it, there's no chance of it being classed as fair use.

[ Parent ]

Copyright (none / 0) (#290)
by cpt kangarooski on Mon Oct 25, 2004 at 02:14:23 PM EST

Copyright is much less of a problem for software than patents, but it's still a problem. Hence Free Software.

I think that free software has more to do with business practices. Even if software could not be copyrighted, it would still often be kept closely controlled via trade secrets as to the source and drm of various sorts as to the binaries. And given that neither of these might be all that successful, we might see less software being produced.

Something like GPL is used in conjunction with enticing software so that people are willing to get bound by it, and it keeps things open and the promise of reciprocally GPL'ed is what entices the first people to use the GPL. The copyright parts of it are important, but mostly it opens things up, and that would have continuing importance regardless of copyright. (though it might be harder to accomplish for various reasons)

The fair use aspect comes in because people can't usually make the minor modifications they need for themselves. Once they have to contract someone else to do it, there's no chance of it being classed as fair use.

Oh, there's always a chance.

--
All my posts including this one are in the public domain. I am a lawyer. I am not your lawyer, and this is not legal advice.
[ Parent ]

The source-binary gap (none / 0) (#291)
by Thought Assassin on Tue Oct 26, 2004 at 01:52:19 AM EST

Even if software could not be copyrighted, it would still often be kept closely controlled via trade secrets as to the source and drm of various sorts as to the binaries.

Without copyright, the only closed source business model that would make sense would be to hide the source in order to monopolise the market for future modifications of your software. But I seriously doubt that could ever be competitive with open models once people are used to having a choice of maintainers/developers for their software - particularly since open developers would now have the right to clone closed programs exactly.

You seem to agree that closed models probably wouldn't work very well, but I can't see how that would mean the software won't be produced at all; it just means it will be produced openly, because people would be prepared to pay more for that. (but still probably less than they pay for closed software today, because there'd be competition)

That said, the source-binary gap does muddy these waters a little, you're right. Guess we'd just have to suck it and see.

[ Parent ]

Copyright (none / 0) (#289)
by Thought Assassin on Mon Oct 25, 2004 at 01:30:17 PM EST

I thought I posted this earlier, but it ain't here... sorry if it ends up appearing twice.

[If we] reform copyrights by radically scaling them down [then] I assume that there will be notable reductions in creation

Follow the money. If more people are allowed to do more with a particular work, they will be prepared to pay more for its creation. For some works, this will be enough to push them over the threshold of profitability. So there is an increase in production.

Don't let the difference in the way money gets from consumer to producer cloud your vision of the basic rules of supply and demand.

[ Parent ]

That's too simplistic... (none / 0) (#276)
by skyknight on Sat Oct 23, 2004 at 02:16:36 PM EST

Take a college course on intellectual property, and it will really shake up your categories. I know it did for me. I am very libertarian, but when you start looking at some of the things in the real world it is extremely gray who ought to have ownership of what. Read a bunch of actual cases on patent and copyright law and it will twist your brain.

What happens when two people come up with an idea independently? What happens when there isn't good documentation of prior art? What constitutes sufficient improvement to pass the novelty bar?

Can you imagine how hopelessly complicated if people were to forever "own" the products of their mind? What if every time I were to solve a trigonometric equation I had to send royalty payments to the descendants of Pythagoras? Where do you draw the line?

Even your simple example about bread is troublesome. Was your recipe really all that novel? What about it is patentable? If I, by experimentation, come up with something similar without every knowing about you, should I be barred from baking bread in this way because you did it first?

When you start wrapping your head around these difficult issues, you are likely to come to the conclusion that the only sensible thing is for IP law to be utilitarian. While you might be able to make a good argument for natural rights in the domain of physical property, they are tenuous at best in the intellectual property domain.



It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
drugs are the problem (3.00 / 10) (#132)
by krkrbt on Mon Oct 18, 2004 at 12:36:49 PM EST

The problem with most of today's perscription drugs is that they don't solve a problem - they just cover up the symptoms.  Take statins:  someone has high cholesterol because of their lifestyle decisions.  "Politically correct nutrition" says that eating a diet low in cholesterol and saturated fat combined with exercise is the way to lower human blood cholesterol levels.  If that approach doesn't work, then you'll need to be put on cholesterol lowering drugs.  Thing is, the "dietary cholesterol raises blood cholesterol" hypothesis was based on a poorly designed study:

In 1954 a young researcher from Russia named David Kritchevsky published a paper describing the effects of feeding cholesterol to rabbits. Cholesterol added to vegetarian rabbit chow caused the formation of atheromas--plaques that block arteries and contribute to heart disease. Cholesterol is a heavy weight molecule--an alcohol or a sterol--found only in animal foods such as meat, fish, cheese, eggs and butter. In the same year, according to the American Oil Chemists Society, Kritchevsky published a paper describing the beneficial effects of polyunsaturated fatty acids for lowering cholesterol levels. Polyunsaturated fatty acids are the kind of fats found in large amounts in highly liquid vegetable oils made from corn, soybeans, safflower seeds and sunflower seeds.  (emphasis added)
(source)

Take arthritis drugs:  all they do is cover up the pain that someone feels because their joints are wearing out.  Why are their joints wearing out?  Can the body repair joints that have begun to wear out?  What can be done to alleviate the pain, other than turning off the pain receptors?  The makers of Celebrex or Vioxx wouldn't make nearly as much money fixing someone as they do putting someone on a maintenance dose (for life), so they only look in one direction.

Sure, there are some drugs that are useful for short-term conditions.  But drug companies don't make nearly as much money off a one-time treatment regimine, as they do when they get a new "customer for life".  So it's much more profitable for them to research and market drugs that cover up symptoms, as opposed to solve the problem.

Incidentally, these two articles seem appropriate here:
100 years of Medical Robery
Real Medical Freedom

These two columns get into how the "Medical Doctor" became today's dominant "healing" profession.  I'll just say that it wasn't the result of a selection by a free market.

Someone *does* foot the bill.. (3.00 / 10) (#138)
by Kwil on Mon Oct 18, 2004 at 01:47:59 PM EST

..but it ain't the pharmaceutical companies for the most part.

The NIH and other publically funded institutions around the globe do most of the basic research, the pharmaceutical companies generally only come along and pick off the low hanging fruit afterwards. Then, once they have a drug, they repackage and repurpose it to extend the patent. (Double the dosage, call it extra-strength and repatent for another 20+ years)

Incidentally, your figure of 802 million is likely wrong, as pointed out in this article. In short, it notes that the author's study included only drugs that the pharmaceutical companies had not received any governmental support for, nearly doubled the amount actually spent because the author of the report was counting "opportunity costs" if the money had been spent elsewhere, is the pre-tax figure whereas money spent on R&D allows for a 34% tax deduction, and has about 70% of the R&D cost coming from clinical trials while the pharmaceutical's industries own figures show that clinical trials account for about 29% of R&D costs.

In other words, the report comes from a researcher who picked the exceptional cases (not governmentally supported, very expensive clinical trials), used misleading figures (pre-tax), and added unsupported amounts (opportunity costs) and then generalized all of this to say it applies to all new drugs.

This should come as no surprise however if you'd done more research into Tuft's Centre for the Study of Drug Development (which is where this report comes from, not, as you assert, Tuft's University. Specifically, their sponsorship page points out that there isn't a single public dollar going to them. They're a research group supported by, and for, the pharmaceutical industry.

You might try linking to something that actually looks at the global costs of R&D and shows that drug companies can and do make a profit research and selling drugs domestically in Canada and in the UK, the places that have the price controls you're so worried about.

Do a little more digging and you'll see that the fact is that America is simply letting itself get screwed by the pharmaceutical industry, and you're complaining that other countries aren't paying for the lube.

That Jesus Christ guy is getting some terrible lag... it took him 3 days to respawn! -NJ CoolBreeze


US Medical Attitude (none / 1) (#139)
by cdguru on Mon Oct 18, 2004 at 01:57:51 PM EST

There is a significant component to this that is present in a far lesser degree outside the US. That is the "I want to live forever" attitude. We see this in health care spending, where around 80% of all spending is done caring for the last year of life. Outside the US it is far more common for the balance of spending to be distributed more evenly, if not slightly weighted towards the very young.

Given the opportunity, most people with resources will choose to extend their lives, no matter what the cost. However, outside the US where rationing, government-run healthcare and overall fewer resources in general there is little opportunity for this. As an example, significant numbers of wealthy older people come to the US for treatments that are unavailable in their home countries. This isn't because the treatments are universally unavailable - just that spending and treatments for the elderly is not seen as the priority it is in the US.

Logically, it would follow that most pharmeceutical companies would be producing drugs aimed at the young outside the US and at the elderly in the US. I believe this can easily be seen to be the case, if not a single focus on drugs for the elderly because of their increased needs. This gives us drugs for symptomatic relieve of conditions encountered by the elderly rather than cures for conditions of the young. A lot of people look at this and believe it to be grossly unfair and due to specific practices by the pharmaceutical companies. I would offer that the companies are simply following the spending - they are going to produce drugs that are in demand and can be sold in high volumes.

As to the current price controversy, there can be only one solution, implemented in stages:

  • US implements reimportation informally. This is already happening in places like Illinois.
  • US implements price controls. The US population isn't going to be happy until they are paying the same prices as the folks in Canada. This (obviously) ends reimportation and international drug purchasing.
  • Pharamceutical companies respond to this challange by either ceasing operation (almost unbelievable) or universally raising prices worldwide.
  • Some countries decide playing with patent law is a losing game and allow internal manufacturing of drugs at the previously lower prices.
  • Minor trade war ensues over this policy.
The problem is that when pharmaceutical companies say to France "You have to pay more" France may very well say "Bugger off" and make the drugs themselves. Repeat for any large nation on the planet. The only thing that will stop this is for everyone to decide that development of new drugs is in everyone's best interest and the previous pricing levels will not allow that to occur. I believe this will seriously tax the WTO and similar organizations and will likely involve some real conflicts. Ships being sunk, blockades, etc.

I suppose there will be people that say this isn't necessary - just disband the idea of patents and everyone will be free to develop their own drugs. Right. Open-source drugs developed by volunteers dedicating their nights and weekends away from their regular jobs. People just doing "the right thing" because it is for the betterment of all mankind. Please. Nothing has worked that way since the beginning of time, although people have tried, sometimes very smart people trying very hard.

You would think if we can see this coming that people would be able to sidestep it. Unfortunately, I don't think we have reached the point where foresight can substitute for some hard knocks. I am pretty sure there are some hard knocks coming in the next 20 years or so.

Open =/= Unpaid (none / 0) (#165)
by Thought Assassin on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 12:55:44 AM EST

I suppose there will be people that say this isn't necessary - just disband the idea of patents and everyone will be free to develop their own drugs. Right. Open-source drugs developed by volunteers dedicating their nights and weekends away from their regular jobs.

Where do you get this idea that open research can't be paid for? It is perfectly feasible in our wired age for everyone with an interest in the solution of a medical problem to pool their money to provide wages (or bounties which translate to wages) towards the solution of a problem.

The reason why this doesn't happen now is because our broken patent system provides a way for research companies to milk the consumer for more money for less research. Take away that possibility (the extortionate possibility of closed research) and payment systems for open research will appear as if by magic. They are already appearing in the software sphere, where low barriers to entry mean that the consumers themselves can take things into their own hands to evade the extortion.

[ Parent ]

Net Worth (none / 0) (#191)
by Ogygus on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 11:17:14 AM EST

This isn't because the treatments are universally unavailable - just that spending and treatments for the elderly is not seen as the priority it is in the US.

Drug company R&D and drug development are market focused. The Net Worth of children, expectant mothers and other economic undesirables do not warrant a large investment in drugs targeted at those demographics.

Follow the money. Always follow the money.

The mice will see you now.
[ Parent ]
Not just money, motive and mass (none / 0) (#256)
by xria on Thu Oct 21, 2004 at 06:08:01 PM EST

People that are getting on in years are still intelligent on average, and feel the immediacy of any medical problems they have more keenly I would assume, making them more likely to be Pharma clients, especially add in a lot of conditions that drugs can help with that become more prevalent with age. Young people often assume they will just get better, and that can mean they dont end up dependant on drugs when they do.

Add in the acceptance that a lot of elderly people will be taking small handfuls of pills every day in their last few years, it tends to be rare for that to happen even by middle age, although by then the odd pill or two a day for something has started to creep in at that point.

Also add in the mass of people to market to. Things that affect pregnant women, well lost half your clients to start, then assume it only applys a year or two of life expentancy on average, that makes for a lot less pills sold, and there is an obvious cut off point, so less likely to create permanent dependance.

Children is slightly better in terms of mass, but the mid to old aged group tend to have similar problems, so drugs aimed there are looking at over half the population as potential clients.

Its funny, but probably not all that surprising, that the tactics of the Pharmas in building long term dependance tends to mirror the illegal drugs side of business, and I wouldnt be surprised if Pharma's went to rest homes to pimp out the first dose of anti-arthritis pills to the clients for free, just to get them started...

[ Parent ]

Let's agree this argument is not about morals. (none / 0) (#146)
by dteeuwen on Mon Oct 18, 2004 at 03:51:47 PM EST

I work for the largest generic drug maker in Canada. The idea that foriegn companies competing with US companies because their prices are lower is nothing more than the free-market, on which the US is based.

If you aply your reasoning about Canadian importers to any other kind of industry and then reverse the roles, where the US is the benefiting party, there is only praise. Take the American entertainment industry. It permeates every country in the world and people pay hand over fist to get it. It woul cost too much to do the same thing in their country, so they bow to the pressure of economics and buy American.

In the end, the problem is a system stuck in a rut, where American companies will not bow to lesser profits. Ultimately, American companies will wise up and create cheaper generics.

But let's not make this into a moral question. This is an entirely financial question. If it were moral, the drugs would be free, or the US government would be restricting all access from other countries and demanding that American countries create drugs cheaper.

_________

Down the slopes of death he rides
The eight hooves pound like drums
Darkness reigns the crumbling sky
Invasion has begun


On the other side, how much research (none / 0) (#150)
by jongleur on Mon Oct 18, 2004 at 08:12:47 PM EST

does your company do? That's the thing, it's very expensive to bring new drugs to market. Now I've heard that the US companies spend more money on marketing than on research but, someone's got to foot the bill for the R&D.
--
"If you can't imagine a better way let silence bury you" - Midnight Oil
[ Parent ]
The government does (none / 0) (#159)
by Shajenko on Mon Oct 18, 2004 at 10:04:20 PM EST

Quite a few drugs are researched in the public sector, then patented by private drug companies. Basically, your taxes are paying for their profits.

[ Parent ]
Hmm (none / 0) (#162)
by kurioszyn on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 12:46:56 AM EST

Uh .. really ?

You read that in "Socialist Worker" ?


[ Parent ]

It's true. (3.00 / 2) (#168)
by Begbie on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 01:32:34 AM EST

Most big Pharma research dollars go towards modifying existing drugs as a way to 'extend' their patent. Many new drugs come from smaller companies spun off from gov't/university research. The smaller companies are then bought up by big Pharma and the cycle continues.

[ Parent ]
Even better (none / 1) (#177)
by dteeuwen on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 06:58:48 AM EST

A lot of Big Pharma companies also start their own generic companies and then sell them the patent to their existing drugs after the usual 20 year wait time.

How's that for nepotism?

_________

Down the slopes of death he rides
The eight hooves pound like drums
Darkness reigns the crumbling sky
Invasion has begun


[ Parent ]

Heh (none / 0) (#214)
by kurioszyn on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 06:24:20 PM EST

Nepotism ?

You seem to exibit this strange hatred for anyone who is making money ..

Are you that paranoid or are we talking about good old envy ?

[ Parent ]

I have no problem with making money (none / 0) (#228)
by dteeuwen on Wed Oct 20, 2004 at 08:45:42 AM EST

I have a probem with the original argument, which was that Canadian/Foriegn drugs will suck the American people dry. It seems Americans don't like competition any more than anyone else, if this thread is to be believed.

So, I am all in favor of people making money.

_________

Down the slopes of death he rides
The eight hooves pound like drums
Darkness reigns the crumbling sky
Invasion has begun


[ Parent ]

The governemnt pays for research anyway. (none / 0) (#179)
by dteeuwen on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 07:00:57 AM EST

In Canada, 20% of all research costs done by any company are submitted to the government for tax credits. Let me tell you, that's a lot of tax dollars.

All the more reason that the US should fight to lower drug costs like crazy. You already own a fair share of the reseach that went into making them.

_________

Down the slopes of death he rides
The eight hooves pound like drums
Darkness reigns the crumbling sky
Invasion has begun


[ Parent ]

We do the same as any other company. (3.00 / 2) (#176)
by dteeuwen on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 06:57:19 AM EST

Brand name pharma, which is huge over here, and the majority of whom come from the States, do more research because brand mane (or innovator) drugs are absolutely new.

Generics still have to run biostudies and do clinical trials to prove their version is similar enough to be considered a generic. A generic is never the same, just close.

So, it's obviously not the cost of the drug, since we develop all out own. It's the price being charged. It costs approx. $500,000,000 just to have a drug developed to the stage that it can be filed for evaluation by the government. It costs even more in the States. It's not like the FDA is more careful than their Canadian equivalent, however. They are swamped with work, so they make more mistakes. This drives the wait time on the drug getting to market to be even longer, and causes the 'price' of development to go up.

Anyway, the point is, healthy outside competition is the only thing that will bring down the price of drugs. I think we had/have the same problem with Microsoft, do we not?

_________

Down the slopes of death he rides
The eight hooves pound like drums
Darkness reigns the crumbling sky
Invasion has begun


[ Parent ]

Merck, Pfizer & Co. (3.00 / 3) (#174)
by jotango on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 03:42:30 AM EST

Yes, developing drugs is expensive. So is building a powerplant or buying a fleet of airplanes.

Merck [MRK], Pfizer [PFE]and Bristol-Myers [BMY] have Income/Revenue levels of 30.3%, 8.7% and 14.9%. R&D spending is already included in these numbers. These profit margins are way way higher than what an average company makes.

Seeing these numbers, I am sure drug companies would be able to lower their prices in the US, to a level similar to other countries (at least EU and Japan).

One additional factor, which hasn't been widely discussed here so far, is the amount of drugs people take and their dependence on them.



Why would they? (none / 0) (#182)
by skyknight on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 07:57:03 AM EST

Where's the rationalism in that? Companies aren't going to do something that is financially irrational just because you want it. They will only do what is strictly in their best financial interests.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
'cause making money isn't the only meaningful goal (none / 0) (#215)
by wurp on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 06:31:11 PM EST

I know this sounds nuts in the current culture, but it is possible to build a company on a foundation other than money as the only moral value.  If you're letting people die to add another 1% to your profit margin, you're a nasty slimeball.  Someone should be scraping you off the bottom of a cosmic shoe.

People seem to conflate somehow "capitalism is good because it can make greed work for us sometimes" with "greed is good".  Capitalism is good because sometimes it can make greed work for the common good.  But that doesn't mean being greedy is good.  I damn well can and do expect people to act rightly even when it is not directly and immediately obvious how it's to their self-interest.

It is my understanding that a publicly traded company is legally obligated to maximize profits.  This is despicable - essentially you can be punished for not doing the wrong thing.  It is also a damned good reason to keep a company privately owned.

Our blase attitude toward companies and politicians doing evil things is what has left us in the current state of affairs.  It is a mistake to believe "but they would lose money" or "they would lose votes" is an acceptable excuse for being a nasty little self-centered worm.
---
Buy my stuff
[ Parent ]

This line of thinking... (none / 0) (#216)
by skyknight on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 07:47:34 PM EST

is about as useful as if chemists were to gripe about how much easier things would be if only the octet rule were for real.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
Disagree (none / 0) (#218)
by wurp on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 08:17:46 PM EST

People behave that way because it's acceptable.  If we can make it not acceptable, people will stop behaving that way.

If everyone, based on their own personal beliefs, actually called people out when they do something wrong, we would be well on our way to living in a very sane, very nice world.

I do agree that me, by myself, behaving that way is quixotic.  But the only way to get to a place where everyone insists that people behave like decent human beings is for each of us to insist that people behave like decent human beings.

Ideally, we could form a community (virtual and physical) of people who actually demand reasonable behavior from each other, so we could get some benefit from that culture without it requiring a majority to behave that way first.
---
Buy my stuff
[ Parent ]

Financially irrational? (none / 0) (#235)
by MfA on Wed Oct 20, 2004 at 11:44:26 AM EST

He is saying they are making ridiculous returns on investments, so lowering those does not necessarily mean present levels of R&D would become financially irrational.

The industry has fat to trim it seems.

[ Parent ]

Why would they? (none / 0) (#255)
by xria on Thu Oct 21, 2004 at 11:56:30 AM EST

Because the government legislated it.

Its then financially rational because otherwise they get fined and possibly jailed, etc. Just as how they dont sell all but untested drugs (if we are lucky) because the government legislate that is unacceptable.

[ Parent ]

Government has no moral right to legislate it (nt) (none / 1) (#259)
by kurtmweber on Thu Oct 21, 2004 at 08:59:56 PM EST



Kurt Weber
Any field of study can be considered 'complex' when it starts using Hebrew letters for symbols.--me
[ Parent ]
No moral right to clean up its own mess? (none / 0) (#265)
by Thought Assassin on Fri Oct 22, 2004 at 01:45:56 AM EST

I'm not sure the government had a moral right to legislate the patents that caused the inflated prices in the first place, but since it has done so, I'd say it has a moral obligation to do something about it

[ Parent ]
Moral rights... (none / 0) (#267)
by Filip on Fri Oct 22, 2004 at 04:53:48 AM EST

Does the drug companies have a moral right to withhold important drugs?

Oh but the drug companies are not governed by moral, but by their wallets.

Oh, but OTOH the government is not governed by moral either, but by the people who elect it. So fuck moral rights!

Now, if the government were to be governed by the companies, who are governed by their wallets, that would explain why it acts as it does...


-- I'm just a figment of your imagination.
[ Parent ]
Making money IS a moral act! (none / 1) (#268)
by kurtmweber on Fri Oct 22, 2004 at 10:59:26 AM EST

Does the drug companies have a moral right to withhold important drugs?

Yes, of course they do! They're the ones making it; they have every moral right to decide whether or not to offer it to others.

Oh, but OTOH the government is not governed by moral either, but by the people who elect it.

And that is precisely why democracy is an immoral system of government--it lets government get away with doing things that are not within its moral authority to do. Which also explains why the US is not a democracy (thank goodness!) but a republic--rule not of mob whim but of prior principles.

Kurt Weber
Any field of study can be considered 'complex' when it starts using Hebrew letters for symbols.--me
[ Parent ]
Yes, but... (none / 0) (#275)
by skyknight on Sat Oct 23, 2004 at 02:08:16 PM EST

while I agree that creating wealth is a good thing, it's very hard to quantify what the net benefits are. A factory creates wealth, but it also creates pollution. You have to look at the whole set of effects in order to judge its total worth. In the same light, you can't just view the creation of the knowledge about drugs in isolation. It comes with costs, one of them being the legal agreement that intellectual property even exists. I think that just about all simple arguments break down in the real world. The devil is invariably in the details.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
What is a moral right? (none / 0) (#274)
by skyknight on Sat Oct 23, 2004 at 02:04:24 PM EST

That is an extremely important thing to qualify before you start arguing like that.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
In addition... (none / 1) (#186)
by CaptainZapp on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 10:27:49 AM EST

It's somewhat frightening that the whole lot of drug companies spend double the amount on sales and marketing then they spend on R & D.

If Merck would have spent more on researching the ill effects of Vioxx instead of pushing the product - come hell or high water -, then an unknown number of patients wouldn't be dead now or die in the future.

What's especially galling about this example is the fact that it only blew up after Pfizer did some research in order to push Vioxx as a medication against intestine cancer.

Apparently it was less important to research if people croak from this mega (ex-)blockbuster.

[ Parent ]

You missed the most basic argument against imports (none / 0) (#198)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 01:46:45 PM EST

Everytime someone talks about importing drugs from Canada - especially someone who should know better, like Kerry - I'm just floored.

Come on, guys! Canada has, what, 10% of the population of the US? So, okay, what happens when the US starts seriously shopping for drugs in Canada?

No more drugs for Canadians, that's what happens. Do you really think Canada will allow that to happen?

I'll tell you why I don't listen. I can only read so much of your stupid a-- b--- s--- before I lose all faith in the future of humanity and start sort

Supply and demand (none / 0) (#204)
by calimehtar on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 04:06:29 PM EST

I think you'll find that as demand increases, a huge discount drug business will emerge in Canada and the supply will also increase. It's simple economics. There may be a short term risk of shortages, but in the longterm it can only be good for Canada.

+++

The whole point of the Doomsday Machine is lost if you keep it a secret.


[ Parent ]
Drug Companies will refuse to sell to Canada (none / 1) (#205)
by nlscb on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 04:17:50 PM EST

If Canada is under cutting their profit margins enough, they will simply terminate the supply, which they are perfectly allowed to do, and we'll be back where we started.

Comment Search has returned - Like a beaten wife, I am pathetically grateful. - mr strange
[ Parent ]

Canadians will just manufacture drugs (none / 1) (#241)
by simul on Wed Oct 20, 2004 at 01:58:00 PM EST

This crap isn't *that* hard to produce. REfusing to sell to Canada would be the best thing that happened to Canada. Self-reliance is always in a countries best interests in the long run.

Read this book - first 24 pages are free to browse - it rocks
[ Parent ]
And how well will that work (none / 0) (#293)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Oct 26, 2004 at 12:45:09 PM EST

with new drugs that the Canadians don't know how to make?

How well will it work when the Canadians find themselves trade embargoed for pirating drug formulae?

I'll tell you why I don't listen. I can only read so much of your stupid a-- b--- s--- before I lose all faith in the future of humanity and start sort
[ Parent ]

And where will they get the drugs? (none / 0) (#223)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 11:57:41 PM EST

If the drug makers refuse to supply more drugs than Canada needs to medicate Canada - what happens next?

I'll tell you why I don't listen. I can only read so much of your stupid a-- b--- s--- before I lose all faith in the future of humanity and start sort
[ Parent ]
I find it (none / 0) (#224)
by calimehtar on Wed Oct 20, 2004 at 02:36:51 AM EST

Hard to imagine drug companies refusing profits (which they would derive from selling drugs) on purely ethical grounds.

+++

The whole point of the Doomsday Machine is lost if you keep it a secret.


[ Parent ]
Lol. (none / 0) (#226)
by porkchop_d_clown on Wed Oct 20, 2004 at 06:42:58 AM EST

You mean, they'd turn down the higher profits from selling to the USA directly, in order to make lower profits by selling to a Canadian gray market?

Why would they do that?

I'll tell you why I don't listen. I can only read so much of your stupid a-- b--- s--- before I lose all faith in the future of humanity and start sort
[ Parent ]

Admittedly (none / 0) (#238)
by calimehtar on Wed Oct 20, 2004 at 12:39:26 PM EST

I don't know much about this, but it seems to be more complicated than I at first thought.

See here, the second clip down.

There's some debate about what is causing the cost of drugs to be lower in Canada. Options are price controls (they suggest this is unlikely since the US engages in this as much as Canada does), market pricing (the way the same car sells from about 2x in GBR, drug companies may be adjusting prices to be affordable in the Canadian market), and the sale of generic drugs. And of course you hear the American politicians saying that you just don't know where the drugs are coming from!!! They could be coming from the third world.

If the cause is the sale of generic drugs or drugs from the third world, then supply is likely to rise to meet demand. If it's any of the other options you're likely to be correct, and Canada's drug supply make be effectively cut off.

+++

The whole point of the Doomsday Machine is lost if you keep it a secret.


[ Parent ]
Actually, I didn't forget that... (none / 1) (#209)
by skyknight on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 04:40:20 PM EST

Quite simply, in this scenario the redistributors act as parasites on the systems enacted to ensure affordable drugs for the citizens of their host countries.

Maybe I didn't outright say it, but certainly the implication was there, in my mind in any case.



It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
Why ? (none / 0) (#273)
by Eivind on Sat Oct 23, 2004 at 02:46:12 AM EST

As explained in the article, patented drugs are price-capped only by what the market will bear (as in otherwise do without) not influenced by production-costs or thelike.

Assume you patent and then produce WonderDrug, selling it in the USA for $150/30 pills, because your market-research indicate that at a price higher than this, people would start opting for "do without". Assume your production-costs are $10/30 pills.

Now, some countries, like for example Canada, migth impose max-prices and say that you'll be allowed to sell your drug in Canada, but only if you charge no more than $50/30 pills.

What will you do ? Assuming you're a rational company ?

Stop selling to Canada ? $50 for something that costs you $10 is still 80% profit-margin. It's not obvious what you would gain from not selling to Canada.

In practice you'll do what many drug-companies do today: Sell to Candadians at $50 and to Americans at $150.

The US system is better for the drug-companies. If it's also better for the population of the USa is a different question.

[ Parent ]

Buffalo Vice? (none / 0) (#206)
by nlscb on Tue Oct 19, 2004 at 04:19:38 PM EST

Given the apparent demand for these cheaper drugs, could the smuggling of medical drugs eventually become a bigger problem than recreational? Will we see Crocket and Tubbs chasing guys in their Ferrari's across the Peace Bridge? Will the DEA suddenly have a whole new meaning?

Comment Search has returned - Like a beaten wife, I am pathetically grateful. - mr strange

U.S. sells drugs to Canada (none / 1) (#240)
by simul on Wed Oct 20, 2004 at 01:55:30 PM EST

The U.S. will export drugs to Canada, but then won't allow its citizens to buy them - even if they were manufactured in the U.S - because Bush claims that they aren't safe.

In other words, drugs that are manufactured in the U.S. and sold to Canada are safe enough for Canadians but not for Americans.

Makes you wonder what the U.S. is putting in its drug exports.

Read this book - first 24 pages are free to browse - it rocks

Cutting the drugs (none / 1) (#245)
by godix on Wed Oct 20, 2004 at 06:16:43 PM EST

Makes you wonder what the U.S. is putting in its drug exports.

Well, it depends on the exact supplier but US supliers generally cut the drugs with sugar, rat poison, or flour. Goes a long way towards explaining why drugs we've exported are too dangerous to reimport doesn't it? My advise is to never buy your drugs from someone you don't trust, find a good supplier and stick with him even if it does cost a little more.


- An egotist is someone who thinks they're almost as good as I am.
[ Parent ]
Interesting Article (none / 1) (#248)
by xria on Thu Oct 21, 2004 at 04:07:38 AM EST

Researching into this a little more I found an article I found quite informative:

http://www.fda.gov/oc/initiatives/criticalpath/whitepaper.pdf

One of the basic things they say is causing problems with innovation in the drug industry is that the science they are working with in large part is out of date - we are still in a situation where until drugs are tested on humans we only have the vaguest idea whether they will work in the same way they did in tests in petri dishes or in animals, or if they are likely to have unintended side effects.

In large part the testing methodology of new drugs has barely advanced since the 1900s, even if more complicated drugs can be synthesised by new technology, they are still unable to utilise new technology such as computer models to predict with any accuracy whether a drug will be safe and effective within a patient.

(Hmm, I'll get to the bottom of this editorial/topical thing one day)

A few thoughts (none / 0) (#283)
by Arvedui on Sun Oct 24, 2004 at 07:08:50 PM EST

Showing up when the feast is over, as usual. But still, I'll have a kick at the can.

First, I have to agree (with SkyKnight! which I've found myself doing surprisingly frequently of late! who'da thought!) that the "let's import from Canada" solution is a band-aid at best, a complete red herring at worst. The logical outcome will see importers flinging crates of drugs across Niagra so they touch Canadian soil before flinging them back to the US at half the price. This is just stupid. However, it's a more politically palatable way for Kerry to avoid addressing the root cause--the Big Pharma companies raping the US customer base, while the citizens, so well trained as they are, loudly complain that they're using too much lube.

Second, it's been pointed out too many times now that the obscene profits the drug companies are making (and they are obscene) are NOT going to fund glorious new wonder drugs, but that argument just will not die. So, I'll just say ditto and move on.

Third, it's just amazing to me that while a few people have touched on Bush's preposterous "I'm-a lookin' out fer y'all, those Canajun drugs, they ain't SAFE!" claims (as if the hospitals and clinics would start buying their drugs by replying to the "Ch.eep V1agra from T0ron.to!!1" messages the janitor could forward them), NOBODY has mentioned the absurd rider he passed in the Prescription Drug bill prohibiting Medicare from NEGOTIATING BULK PRICES FOR ITS DRUGS. If you want an example of bad-faith pandering to profitability, there it is. There is NO justification for that, unless you consider Bush's habit of turning lobbyists into regulators, while the guy who wrote the law resigns just after it passes to go head up the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America lobby group at a cushy $2 MILLION per year. On this topic? Not a peep.

Really, I don't know why I bother commenting so vigourously on this; frankly, I think at this point the ship is going down whatever happens, and in any case it's not my problem. But someone may find some points of interest, and might push that deck chair over there a little further to the left--a more asthetically-pleasing configuration is probably all one can really hope for.

I have a very simple plan... (none / 0) (#292)
by skyknight on Tue Oct 26, 2004 at 02:37:00 AM EST

Don't get sick, ever. This does wonders for precluding careless doctors butchering my body, and pharma companies butchering my bank account. Now if only I can keep it up...

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
The War on Drugs | 295 comments (272 topical, 23 editorial, 1 hidden)
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