Much Ado About Knockoffs

  • by: |
  • 01/02/2007
I saw the article in the Guardian about "ethical pharmaceuticals" later than did Peter. This is the same Guardian that finds Israeli responses to terrorist attacks as "disproportionate" while running articles that portray Hamas as becoming more warm and cuddly.

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 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-François 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.

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.

Blog Roll

Alliance for Patient Access Alternative Health Practice
Better Health
Biotech Blog
CA Medicine man
Cafe Pharma
Campaign for Modern Medicines
Carlat Psychiatry Blog
Clinical Psychology and Psychiatry: A Closer Look
Conservative's Forum
Club For Growth
Diabetes Mine
Disruptive Women
Doctors For Patient Care
Dr. Gov
Drug Channels
DTC Perspectives
Envisioning 2.0
FDA Law Blog
Fierce Pharma
Fresh Air Fund
Furious Seasons
Gel Health News
Hands Off My Health
Health Business Blog
Health Care BS
Health Care for All
Healthy Skepticism
Hooked: Ethics, Medicine, and Pharma
Hugh Hewitt
In the Pipeline
In Vivo
Internet Drug News
Jaz'd Healthcare
Jaz'd Pharmaceutical Industry
Jim Edwards' NRx
Kaus Files
Laffer Health Care Report
Little Green Footballs
Med Buzz
Media Research Center
More than Medicine
National Review
Neuroethics & Law
Nurses For Reform
Nurses For Reform Blog
Opinion Journal
Orange Book
Peter Rost
Pharm Aid
Pharma Blog Review
Pharma Blogsphere
Pharma Marketing Blog
Pharmacology Corner
Pharmaceutical Business Review
Piper Report
Prescription for a Cure
Public Plan Facts
Real Clear Politics
Shark Report
Shearlings Got Plowed
Taking Back America
Terra Sigillata
The Cycle
The Catalyst
The Lonely Conservative
Town Hall
Washington Monthly
World of DTC Marketing
WSJ Health Blog