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What are your views on the pharmaceutical industry?

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Re: What are your views on the pharmaceutical industry?

Postby Hairyloon » Mon Sep 11, 2017 10:44 am

shootist wrote:I think that for all it's obvious faults Capitalism is the better system. Being able to point at it's faults is no justification for changing to a far worse system.

I don't think anybody here is suggesting such a change, but the fundamental problem that we have is that we have moved beyond capitalism: it is no longer about who owns the means of production because production is not what is making the money: the money markets are what are making the money.
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Re: What are your views on the pharmaceutical industry?

Postby Russell » Mon Sep 11, 2017 10:55 am

CP09 some great points and I will respond but can I ask what is your background, you seem to know the industry much better than a layperson?
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Re: What are your views on the pharmaceutical industry?

Postby CP09 » Mon Sep 11, 2017 3:13 pm

Russell,

I worked in the Pharma industry for some 40 years before I retired.
That included a Medium size Pharma, 2 small ones, and one Major company.

I've been part of product development, storage testing, QA, Licencing documentation, SOP documentation and distribution processes.

If you want to see part of the day-to-day challenges, I can do no better than to point you at the MHRA website https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/medicines-and-healthcare-products-regulatory-agency where you can read all of the legislation that is applied, and also view what happens if something goes wrong (see device Alerts and recalls).
Without trying to push EU membership or not, it's notable that the MHRA guidelines were the basis for the EMEA (European medicines Agency) regulations, and that a common set of regulations and inspections is carried out throughout the EU - Exactly how a company manages its compliance is up to the company, but there is a common benchmark. This makes import/export of most medicines straightforward (though dangerous drugs are also subject to domestic legislation); it also makes the licencing of product more efficient - both the EMEA and the FDA (US) accept electronic licence submissions - though the exact details aren't the same, there is a large amount that can be used for both areas.


In my experience, none of the companies set out to make exorbitant profits from the consumers/health service, though I've seen reports of some companies doing that:-
https://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/sep/23/us-pharmaceutical-firm-to-roll-back-5000-price-hike-on-drug as an example.

I'll not name any of the companies I've worked for - confidentiality & all that.

I noted that one Pharma company I worked for (family run) needed to invest heavily in the drug pipeline, so the family simply didn't take their profits for some years. Of course, they expected that in due course, their re-investment would repay their investment. (it did).
Perhaps the problem with a public company is that the shareholders expect large dividends which skews the finances of any company.

HTH

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Re: What are your views on the pharmaceutical industry?

Postby atticus » Mon Sep 11, 2017 3:29 pm

I have seen it said that "Big Pharma" is not interested in products that primarily benefit poor people in poor countries, because they will not be sufficiently profitable. Do you have any thoughts on that, Colin?

I suspect that the answer is not simple. There are a number of charities eg Wellcome Ttust and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funding drug research and development.
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Re: What are your views on the pharmaceutical industry?

Postby CP09 » Mon Sep 11, 2017 9:42 pm

Hi Atticus,

I think you're correct.

I do recall one of our management team (i.e. top board director) saying that it was difficult in Africa with anti-Aids drugs - the board had attempted to be charitable and give away some million or so euros' worth of drugs. All perfectly OK, not time expired etc, but viewed with great suspicion by the local authorities. It would have been better to have sold the drugs at a nominal price and greased a few palms - but the company wouldn't do that (rare moral stand by the directors?)
Pharma will respond to products that benefit people, but as a business (not a charity) the shareholders expect a return on their investment.
It's not a perfect system, but at present, unless you can persuade a company to carry out R&D for no end profit, it's difficult.
If the charitable trusts come up with a viable product, then there are a number of generic manufacturers (lots in SE Asia/Indian sub continent) who could do the manufacture.

Regards,

Colin
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Re: What are your views on the pharmaceutical industry?

Postby Hairyloon » Mon Sep 11, 2017 11:57 pm

CP09 wrote:as a business (not a charity) the shareholders expect a return on their investment...


Once upon a time, shareholders used to be people and most people would take some of that return in the knowledge of good works done on their behalf. These days, most shares are held by pension funds and investment brokers which are non-human entities created specifcally for the purpose of making money and are therefore driven exclusively by the Love of Money.
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