Generic Genuflecting

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  • 02/06/2006

Here’s Bob Goldberg’s perspective on another aspect of Marc Kaufman’s article …

So typical of the lazy and unsystematic thinking that plagues health care reporting in general. Worrying about generic drug backlog because it’s one of the few ways to reduce “skyrocketing” health care costs” (Actually, health care costs have been slowing in recent years but whose counting. Increased use of medicines is attributed by many scholars — i.e., not journalists — for the slowdown because use of medicines postpones or offsets utilization of surgery, nursing homes, etc.)

Now, how about the delay in the cervical cancer and rotavirus vaccines? The delay in the Alzheimer’s vaccine? The 10-year lag in figuring out that Herceptin should be used in early stage breast cancer because all the trial designs are geared to show maximum benefit from a frequentist statistical standpoint that has no reference to real world use? Taken together these products and uses alone would make the “savings” of the 800 generic medicines waiting at FDA seem a pittance. Has Kaufman ever done a piece on the need or effort to transform the FDA to accelerate the development of real health care solutions. No. You can look it up.

It’s another example of how the MSM fails to get the connection between health care costs and technology: the price of new technologies that are based on a geniune understanding of disease mechanisms and individual responses to treatment are cheap relative to the cost of managing the same illnesses with halfway or no tech approaches. Put another way: what is cheaper, what is more cost-effective: using generic versions of today’s drugs as part of the effort to treat more cases Alzheimer’s, cancer, stroke, diabetes using our current know-how, or treatments that actually prevent or stop these diseases before they develop?

Why do policymakers, pundits and journalists see the efforts and investments of companies pursuing these high tech solutions are evil but see the accelerated development of knock-offs as holy?


Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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