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What are your views on the pharmaceutical industry?

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What are your views on the pharmaceutical industry?

Postby Russell » Sun Sep 10, 2017 4:30 pm

People tend to have strong views on this questions, what are your brutally honest opinions?
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Re: What are your views on the pharmaceutical industry?

Postby CP09 » Sun Sep 10, 2017 5:23 pm

What do you mean by "the pharmaceutical industry"?

here's one view:-
without a pharmaceutical industry we'd be still using willow bark tea for headaches, blood letting for every fever, and lots of people dying from minor illnesses
I suppose that the "survival of the fittest" doctrine would, perhaps, mean that the overall resistance of the population could improve - if it wasn't wiped out be a major plague ("from an unexpectedly dirty telephone...")
I don't think that many people would think that that was a good thing. (you may differ)

One of the common complaints is that newly developed medicines tend to be expensive - remember that the manufacturers have an exclusivity of about 15 years before the patent expires, some 10 years of this is taken with evaluation the compound (does it actually have any effect?), then there's the dosage and toxicity studies, and finally the clinical trials to show that it works (maybe better that another drug - maybe not). Generally that's about 10 years from the patent application for the chemical compound, so now the manufacturers have 5 years of exclusivity to recoup the 10 years' worth of investigations. Of course, not all candidates reach the market (IIRC, most candidates don't get that far) so there's also the R&D investment costs of the failures to cover as well.
The industry itself is one of the most regulated that exists:- at least in the EU - everything has to be recorded (double signatures), every component tested, all policies and procedures kept up-to-date and enforced. The Licencing authority may call at any time and inspect just about anything (usually with a10 days notice - but that's only a courtesy - there are suprise visits!).

Is that the sort of view you were after?

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Re: What are your views on the pharmaceutical industry?

Postby 3.14 » Sun Sep 10, 2017 5:29 pm

CP09 wrote:What do you mean by "the pharmaceutical industry"?

here's one view:-
without a pharmaceutical industry we'd be still using willow bark tea for headaches, blood letting for every fever, and lots of people dying from minor illnesses
I suppose that the "survival of the fittest" doctrine would, perhaps, mean that the overall resistance of the population could improve - if it wasn't wiped out be a major plague ("from an unexpectedly dirty telephone...")
I don't think that many people would think that that was a good thing. (you may differ)

One of the common complaints is that newly developed medicines tend to be expensive - remember that the manufacturers have an exclusivity of about 15 years before the patent expires, some 10 years of this is taken with evaluation the compound (does it actually have any effect?), then there's the dosage and toxicity studies, and finally the clinical trials to show that it works (maybe better that another drug - maybe not). Generally that's about 10 years from the patent application for the chemical compound, so now the manufacturers have 5 years of exclusivity to recoup the 10 years' worth of investigations. Of course, not all candidates reach the market (IIRC, most candidates don't get that far) so there's also the R&D investment costs of the failures to cover as well.
The industry itself is one of the most regulated that exists:- at least in the EU - everything has to be recorded (double signatures), every component tested, all policies and procedures kept up-to-date and enforced. The Licencing authority may call at any time and inspect just about anything (usually with a10 days notice - but that's only a courtesy - there are suprise visits!).

Is that the sort of view you were after?

Colin

I guess that kinda covers it. I should add that I'm diabetic so, I'd be missing a foot or two and maybe going blind now without them.
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Re: What are your views on the pharmaceutical industry?

Postby Boo » Sun Sep 10, 2017 8:03 pm

Awesome post by Colin.
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Angels - "You screwed up a perfectly good monkey is what you did. Look at it. It's got anxiety!"
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Re: What are your views on the pharmaceutical industry?

Postby Russell » Sun Sep 10, 2017 8:13 pm

Indeed, popularity rating put big pharma in the same league as arms suppliers but the reality is so far far from this. Pharma have raised life expectancy and the amount of quality years within that increased expectancy. Even eradicating some diseases. These guys are heros, they have worked miracles and I do not say that lightly, it really is a miracle. So why do people see them so negatively?
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Re: What are your views on the pharmaceutical industry?

Postby Hairyloon » Sun Sep 10, 2017 8:43 pm

Russell wrote:So why do people see them so negatively?

They see too much unnecessary greed in the industry.
It epitomises something that is fundamentally wrong with the world in that medicine should be driven by a global desire to improve the lot of fellow man, but instead it is driven by a lust for profit.
And (perhaps more importantly), it is the only way it can possibly work in this world the way that it is...
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Re: What are your views on the pharmaceutical industry?

Postby Russell » Sun Sep 10, 2017 10:19 pm

Thanks Hairy and good point. However, why don't people feel the same about the food industry? Or other industries, look at Apple and how they fleece the masses, yet they are at the other end of the scale, they are a leading/trusted brand.
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Re: What are your views on the pharmaceutical industry?

Postby Hairyloon » Mon Sep 11, 2017 7:26 am

Russell wrote:Thanks Hairy and good point. However, why don't people feel the same about the food industry? Or other industries, look at Apple and how they fleece the masses, yet they are at the other end of the scale, they are a leading/trusted brand.

Perhaps because people see they have a choice: they don't have to buy Apple (I never have), they could go to a local farmer or even grow their own.
And there is no equivalence to the idea that illness is a market generating mechanism and people are cynical enough to believe that Big Pharma prefer sick people buying drugs over people getting cured...

Also there is, or appears to be a large number of "upgrades" done for the sake of profiteering rather than real benefit.
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Re: What are your views on the pharmaceutical industry?

Postby shootist » Mon Sep 11, 2017 9:24 am

Russell wrote:Thanks Hairy and good point. However, why don't people feel the same about the food industry? Or other industries, look at Apple and how they fleece the masses, yet they are at the other end of the scale, they are a leading/trusted brand.


I couldn't agree more about Apple, a company I despise. Their marketing is excellent, for them at least, but their whole philosophy is to screw their customer base in every way possible. I have a collection of old Apple computers, SE/30 (the one with the 9" mono screen) and about 9 others. When you look at the history of their 'upgrades' it is a disgrace. Not that Microsoft/Intel were/are any better but they are at least more open. Gates made his money, in part, by effectively allowing free distribution of software, whereas Apple protected theirs as much as possible in order to, as I have said, screw their customer base, which is IMO, mostly people who know bugger all about computers but love the nice pictures they make. Let's face it, whether pharmaceutical companies, or any profit making corporate organisation, they are all out to make money.

But also consider the improving standard of consumer products, drugs, and other features of the modern world. Compare them all to what was turned out in the people's socialist havens of equality. Look at all the Moskvitches and Ladas still driving around, as reliable as ever. Look at the wonderful made in USSR portable TVs and other consumer electrical goods still going strong. I also have a modest collection of Russian cameras. Usually great quality lenses because the equipment was stolen from Germany, put into camera bodies made out of case hardened butter, guaranteed to fail, jam, or fall apart ASAP.

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

Postby CP09 » Mon Sep 11, 2017 10:30 am

It would be wonderful if the pharma industry could be run without the profit mechanism - it does have the disadvantage that treatments for very rare conditions are either not researched or become prohibitively expensive.
Similarly, there's little research into new antibiotics (on a large scale) because the current ones are so cheap (low profit) and until there's a profitable market for new ones (remember that the 15 year patent runs from the time of the compound discovery) there's little commercial sense in hunting out new ones.

IIRC, the Soviet Union had a large Pharma industry, but didn't produce any major new treatments.

There are some examples where the market system isn't working (e.g. hydrocortisone) - the assumption is that once a drug is off-patent, several generic companies will make versions of it available, thereby driving the cost down. Unfortunately, in some cases there is only one manufacturer, and the cost is what people will pay for it.

If you really want Pharma producers to hate, go for the counterfeiters - the ones who copy the product appearance, but the product has no active ingredient, or just a hint of it. The copies can be very difficult to detect if they get into the supply chain, especially for the consumer who isn't familiar with all the subtle clues. That's one reason that 2-d bar codes have started appearing on some medicines - and serial numbers. the idea is to allow full traceability for the pack back to the manufacturer - something that a counterfeiter will not be able to do (the serial numbers aren't sequential, but coded). Again, a good technique, but there is, as always, a cost to the manufacturer and thus the end user...

As this is a law forum, Assume that I am a manufacturer of product X. Product X is supplied by a pharmacist to a patient under the NHS scheme.

If the product is defective (e.g. a spray which doesn't work) does the patient have any recourse to the manufacturer or the pharmacist? (English law - not moral).

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