Sunday, April 30, 2006

Threat from generics in an online world

A few months ago there were two prices for Cipro online: the price in New York $5 a tablet, and in Delhi 35c a tablet.

One was made officially, the other was an "illegal" generic.

In the old days before the web such a thing would hardly have mattered so long as generics stayed in emerging economies where sales of the high priced alternative would have been almost zero.

But in the net world, with Fedex and other carriers able to carry packets in a day, and customs / regulators overwhelmed, more or less any medicine can turn up in any country from any source.

Expect countries like India and China to tighten up their intellectual property regulations, while other emerging nations quickly fill the gap as safe havens for unauthorised generic manufacturing.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Why pipelines are so empty

Around 75% of all pharmaceutical research spending is by the very few largest companies, while around 66% of all new innovation is being carried out by many hundreds of smaller independent biotech startups and similar organisations. In many pharma companies most of their work is still driven by extending the functionality and patent protection of existing therapies.

Meanwhile it now costs over $800 million to bring a new drug to market, and can take 15 years. The entire model is becoming unsustainable. Expect significant reforms and changes in pharma structure over the next decade.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Inventing disease or true unmet need - accusations against pharmacuetical industry

The future of the pharmaceutical industry will be dominated by innovation, much of it biotech driven.  But success depends on linking new product innovation to genuine unmet need.  The accusation is that some pharma companies have been inventing new treatment areas and diseases to maximise revenue from drugs that would otherwise have low sales.


However, at the end of the day the only real judge of unmet need is the person who is suffering.  As a physician myself I know how blind doctors can be to the true toll of illness on those who come to them.  An obvious example is the relief of pain in hospice medicine (my own specialty in the days when I was a practising doctor).  The entire hospice movement has been created in part to solve a nightmare for cancer patients – untreated pain and other major symptoms, despite the fact that many highly effective therapies are available.  Doctors are often ignorant, or afraid to ask the questions and patients often hold back from revealing the truth.  The reasons for these things are complex, but this is just one example where surveys of unmet need show huge differences between what doctors think is happening, what patients tell their doctors about and what patients actually experience.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Future of the Pharmaceutical Industry

Future of the Pharmaceutical Industry - articles and presentations