Monday, August 22, 2005

American Jury Takes Future Drug Treatments Off the Market

The Merck lawsuit decision will end up doing nothing other than keeping future drugs from being developed and put on the market. As noted in today's WSJ (paid link):
The industry and the Food and Drug Administration have put renewed stress on caution, which probably will inhibit the arrival of new treatments to the market. Drug makers are rethinking what sorts of drugs to pursue and develop, based on their anticipation of potential safety and cost problems.
Companies aren't stupid. They aren't going to develop and market a drug that isn't profitable. And this lawsuit just added costs to all future drugs since all drugs have side effects. Even antibiotics kill scores of people each year. The reason they are still used is because their benefits outway the risks.

But this risk/reward ratio has now been skewed to the point that the benefits have to be huge and the risks approaching zero. What this means is that drugs for diseases and problems that looked "marginally" profitable will now be shoved into the "unprofitable" column and not be developed. Those that will be most affected will be those suffering from diseases and conditions with smaller numbers of people. These "orphan diseases" already had problems getting the attention of drug companies, but now the size and scope of the orphan disease list just got a lot larger.

So if you come down with a disease in the future, make sure that it is one that has lots of people suffering from it or has a treatment that has zero side effects. Otherwise you'll find that there won't be a treatment available for you thanks to an American jury.

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