Monday, June 20, 2005

Science and Health

Most science that the public pays for, via NIH and other research funding will not help anyone. That's the risk we take as a society so that we can have developments in the research that does work, that may give rise to a diagnostic tool or theraputic device/medication with some utility. Because at that point there is a profit to be made, the private sector takes over. In a nutshell, that accounts for the economic powerhouses of JNJ, MRK, PFE, and others.

It's interesting to watch free market people, the ulta-conservatives on talk shows and other forums, talk about how great the free market really is. However, they don't really like to talk about the fact that NIH is essentially one great big subsidy to the drug/device/testing industry. And this should be the case. I'm certainly not about to say that we should cut finding from the NIH and allow the next blockbuster drug to come out of India or China - although within a few decades that will be as sure as nightfall.

I mention all this because over the weekend I found out that I'm about to appear as an author on a paper with some significance in terms of future drug development. It was, of course, NIH funded. Most of science leads to dead ends and lack of data. The paper posits a mechanism of action associated with a certain disease, does some assays on fluids, and avoids one problem of science just by finding data: X is low while Y is high. Bringing these two into closer balance may help the underlying problem. Or not. That's the gamble that someone who sits on a pharmacutical board of directors is going to decide. It may bring the company millions of dollars, billions even. Or it may cost millions. It takes about one billion dollars to bring a drug to market. It's not a game for the little guys. It's a huge gamble that drug companies take. And when it works, Lipitor results, lowering cholesterol and raising stocks.

Well, we will see what happens. I have to get out of here.


Blogger marybishop said...

But for how long before the drug has a generic clone, then insurance companies won't pay for the brand name drug..this is happening now to oxycontin...

Lay offs in the works... and I swear the name drug seems to work better than the clone, which is probably just mental...

4:48 PM  
Blogger laurenbove said...

I want the cheap drug. I pay 100 dollars in copay's for two of my medications that if there were a generic I'd take gladly and give my kids the remaining 80 dollars per.

4:31 PM  
Blogger marybishop said...


7:04 AM  
Blogger marybishop said...

I hope when you said: I have to get out of here...You didn't mean blogland

4:12 PM  
Blogger Doc NOS said...

No, I just haven't had a lot, or any, time to myself over the weekend. But more on that later.

9:27 PM  
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6:07 AM  

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