The pegylation process that Professor Sunil Shaunak from the Hammersmith campus of Imperial College London and Professor Steve Brocchini from the London School of Pharmacy have developed is novel but not new. PEGylation is the process of attaching a large sugar molecule to a protein so it is harder to breakdown. In essence, a little less medicine goes a longer way. You save money - in theory -- by using a PEGylated product.
What the two have done -- through their own brand new private company -- is develop a new way to attach the PEG to the protein.
This is great for monoclonal antibodies but not much else. In any event, the firm is now partnering with an Indian company whose product has been approved in India but nowhere else to make a more cost-effective product.
Will it be more cost-effective or cheaper compared to other interferons? It might be. Their products might be considered follow products or bio-generics in Europe depending upon the formulation.
But let's be clear. This is not the Holy Grail for drug discovery and development the Guardian makes it out to be. Polytherics is not validating targets, testing validated target and trying to come up with a molecule that might inhibitor a pathway or shut down replication of a protein and then seeing if it works at a specific dose. They are adding -- in a new way -- a sugar to proteins to make them more bioavailable. This is interesting but not revolutionary.
All this noise about conducting clinical trials in India to save money is garbage. Everyone is doing that. It's the cost of investing in one failure after another or finding a way to reduce that cost or the number of failures...now that would be a real contribution. Now as for being holier than thou these ethical scientists apparently have no problem hiring the same lawyers who represent the monpolistic drug companies they hate to protec their own IP. Haven't they heard about shareware?
Meanwhile, Polytherics have no guarantee that producing companies won't just mark up the price of these drugs -- if they ever pass legal muster -- and continue to give the shaft to the poor in developing lands. That is, all they are doing is giving generic firms another way to exploit the poor and make profits without really adding much to innovation. There is no guarantee that this product will work as promised either.
Perhaps it was best said, as a Financial Times article today notes, by Jean-FranÃ§ois Dehecq, the chairman of Sanofi-Aventis of France.
Dehecq said he was "scandalised" by generic groups producing low-cost medicines in poor countries to sell to patients in rich nations.
Not as scandalised as he will be by Polytheric partnering with said generic firms to develop another way to screw the poor and use them as human lab rats purely for profit.
Maybe Jamie Loves wants to give these guys part of his Genius Award or create a new category:
Best New Way To Use the Poor As An Excuse To Attack Big Bad Pharma And Exploit Them in the Process.