Big Pharma profits at any price
by Monique Ryser
Marcia Angell, former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine and today professor at Harvard Medical School, is disillusioned in the arte film: “With the prices of medicines it is no longer a question of covering the development costs, but only of making as much profit as possible. The drug Kymriah is cited as an example (Infosperberber reported). The gene therapy against leukemia costs 320,000 euros. Especially disturbing, according to Angell: The therapy was researched at the University of Pennsylvania with public funds. Novartis holds the patent and distributes the therapy, which is also approved in Switzerland and Germany. Hematologist Jean-Paul Vernant admits that gene therapy requires complex procedures and is very expensive. “But that does not justify this excessive price. If we were to replicate this therapy in public hospitals, the maximum cost would be 40,000 euros,” says the physician practicing at the Pitié Salpêtrière hospital in Paris.
“Almost all innovations today come from public research,” says Marcia Angell. This often results in spin-offs that are then taken over by large pharmaceutical companies. “The pharmaceutical companies also locate themselves locally around the universities so that they can only cross the street to buy a patent or take over the entire company,” says Marcia Angell.