The Old Canard About Me-Too Drugs

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  • 01/10/2007
Someone sent me California PIRG's letter in support of price controls.

They claim that most R&D is not needed because two-thirds of all drugs developed are me-too drugs. That means the rest are novel therapies.

Let's break this logic down. We know that different drugs attacking a different target in somewhat different ways is therapeutically important. That the meta-analysis of a variety fo RTCs, all with different exclusion criteria, seem to suggest no different in drugs really only proves statistically what we know is going on mechanistically....different people responding to a variety or combination of meds due to genetic polymorphisms. So density of therapeutic space is associated with improved health and well-being.

But even if these drugs were ALL the same -- and they are not -- that leaves 30 percent of all drugs and biologics -- that are truly novel or unique. PIRG seems to think companies can focus research on truly breakthrough products alone. Well that's biotech my friends as you can see how risky that is and the prices and returns they need invest in novel and unvalidated targets. (Note to pharma companies: explaining THIS part of drug development might be useful...) Multiply the failure of the Pfizer drug a hundred fold and exclude work on every well-know drug target and that's what pharma would look like. Heck, that's what pharma is today...both within and as a function its JVs with biotech.

So what PIRG, FUSA and others are claiming is that we should impose price controls at the point when pharma is becoming more innovative...

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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