Cancer Drugs and The Smell of Profits
NY TIMES -- About 860 cancer drugs are being tested in clinical trials, according to the pharmaceutical industry’s main trade group. That is more than twice the number of experimental drugs for heart disease and stroke combined, nearly twice as many as for AIDS and all other infectious diseases combined, and nearly twice as many as for Alzheimer’s and all other neurological diseases combined.
Pfizer has amassed about 1,000 researchers for an all-out effort to develop drugs for cancer, a disease the company once largely ignored. Virtually every large pharmaceutical company seems to have discovered cancer, and a substantial portion of the smaller biotechnology companies are focused on it as well. Together, the companies are pouring billions of dollars into developing cancer drugs.
But for all the industry’s spending and effort, only a trickle of new cancer drugs make it to market. Last year there were two, and this year there has been only one.
MP: Why all of the sudden interest and investments of billions of dollars in cancer drugs by private companies? Federal funding? Funding from charitable nonprofit foundations? Subsidies, grants or tax breaks from the government like for the ethanol industry? Corporate social responsibility? Love of mankind? Nope. It's the good old "smell of profits":
Two industry trends are driving the push. Recent scientific discoveries have suggested new targets for cancer drug researchers to attack. And as drug companies see profits beginning to wane from mainstays like Lipitor, the high prices that cancer drugs can command have become an irresistible lure. Cancer drugs have been the biggest category of drugs in terms of sales worldwide since 2006 and in the United States since 2008.
Thanks to Ben Cunningham and Ariel Goldring (Free Market Mojo blog) who both pointed me to the article.