Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Good Guys/Bad Guys in the Pharm Game

I’m trying to sort through the crappola printed on the New York Times front page this morning: “Biotech Firms, Billions at Risk, Lobby States to Limit Generics”. 

The nut of this article is that big-bucks pharmaceutical firms are trying to get state and
federal l legislatures to make laws prohibiting the manufacture of generic drugs—those drugs that are just like the brand name originals but muchmuchmuch cheaper.
Where the crappola comes in, is in the parsing. Some of those cheaper drugs are called generics and some are called biosimilars—in any case, they are made by chemical processes rather than produced in living cells. The big pharms are claiming they aren’t safe because they are not really “just like” the originals and therefore should not have the same name as the originals. Laws say that generic drugs have to have the same name as brand name drugs or they cannot be used interchangeably.
Legislators who have gotten on the band wagon to outlaw generics because they are not safe are going on record bloviating about the complexity of the “molecules” which they do not understand any bettter than you and I. What the legislators do understand is that the big-bucks pharmaceuticals have elected legislators by giving huge donations to political campaigns and political parties and they expect a quid pro quo.
What is not at issue here is the safety and health of patients. 
If the pharms cared one iota about patient health they would not spend billions of dollars on ad campaigns to promote drugs that have lethal side effects and/or have not been properly tested for safety. In addition, these pharms would not put drugs on the market which the pharms themselves admit have a 5% chance of being lethal—which percentage drug companies call “acceptable”.
A 5% possibility of horrific side effects , cancer and death may not be acceptable to you and me, but it is an acceptable rate of failure to drug companies.
What is at the heart of this hue and cry about generic drugs and their so-called safety is money. If you and I and doctors and hospitals opt for cheaper drugs, the big pharmaceuticals lose billions and billions of dollars. And that rate of failure is not acceptable to the big pharms.

No comments: