Thursday, October 8, 2015


Sovaldi: Hepatitis C can be wiped out for $300 billion (that's a "b") -- the same amount we now pay for all other prescriptions. Cost to manufacture: half a billion dollars.

Now comes: "Amgen scores a victory for PCSK9, halving cardio risks after one year"  " ... new [cholesterol] drugs could eventually add as much as $150 billion to the national health-care bill." 

[how much will we be willing to pay to cure the incurable?]

"Of the 2,644 patients, eight exhibited signs of dementia. Two were younger than 65, five were aged from 65-74 and one was aged between 75-84."
"for the first time in human subjects, our notion that calcineurin inhibition has a protective effect on the development and possible progression and even reversal of Alzheimer's disease,"

C-Pulse - a cuff that wraps around the aorta and pumps blood from the heart around the body - has proved effective in reversing [formerly incurable] heart failure, even in some patients with severe cases.

[the list of potential pharma rent collectors grows by day]

"And they also found that azoramide greatly improved blood glucose levels in obese mice and mice with type 2 diabetes. They showed this improvement was the result of two things: better functioning of insulin-producing beta cells and greater insulin sensitivity in tissues." 

My $500 Pill Revealed -- Revlimid -- by Kevin Drum

[just a sample of monopoly possibilities; more -- surely -- to come] 

Potential target for future Huntington's disease treatment discovered
"... MNT reported on a study that confirmed an activating protein called Rhes plays a pivotal role in Huntington's disease. This protein could become a drug target in future treatments.  

PLEKHA7 -- puts brakes on cancer -- better get ready to sell the Statue of Liberty back to France
"He notes this is like a speeding car that has a lot of gas (E-cadherin and p120) but no brakes (the PLEKHA7 complex), and concludes:"By administering the affected miRNAs in cancer cells to restore their normal levels, we should be able to re-establish the brakes and restore normal cell function. Initial experiments in some aggressive types of cancer are indeed very promising." 

[just another day for potential new drug monopolies -- we will all owe our souls to the corner drug store]

Why Insulin Costs So Much
July 19th, 2015 by David Mendosa
"Dr. Hirsch reviewed the cost of insulin from 1921 when Drs. Frederick Banting and Charles Best discovered it. “In a generous gesture that unfortunately didn’t start a trend, they sold the patent for $1 so that cheap insulin would quickly become available.
"By 2005, people worldwide were spending more than $7.3 billion for insulin. “But no one could have predicted what would happen over the next decade,” Dr. Hirsch said. By 2013 we were spending $21 billion for it.
"Between 2005 and 2015 the cost of a lispro vial went up 264 percent, while a vial of insulin glargine went up 348 percent, and a vial of NPH went up 364 percent. That’s a lot, but other insulins went up even more.
"The cost of an aspart pen rose in this 10-year period by 389 percent. And the cost of a vial of U-500 regular insulin jumped a staggering 508 percent.
Price Fixing?
"Dr. Hirsch noted that one year ago Sanofi increased the price insulin glargine 16.1 percent. “And literally the next day, Novo Nordisk increased the price of insulin detemir (Levemir) 16.1 percent. In fact, this pattern repeated six months later, and this has actually happened 13 times for these two products that have total U.S. sales of $11 billion.” 

[Such an collection of greed-driven price bleeding that I cannot encapsulate it -- yet.]

Drug Goes From $13.50 a Tablet to $750, Overnight
Andrew Pollack   The New York Times|finance|headline|headline|story&par=yahoo&doc=103012076&ref=yfp 

That Guy Who Is Price-Gouging AIDS Patients (see just above) Also Did It to Kids with Kidney Disease

"The former hedge fund manager whose pharmaceutical company has come under withering attack for allegations of  egregious price-gouging on life-saving medication (just above) ... and it turns out he once tried a similar price hike scheme ... During Martin Shkreli's tenure as CEO of Retrophin ... the company increased prices on a decades-old kidney medication by about 20 times its original cost ... ."
"Drugonomics is not Adam Smith’s invisible hand. It is Gordon Gekko’s visible middle finger."

[One Washington Post story]

The drug industry wants us to think Martin Shkreli is a [unique] rogue CEO. He isn’t [unique at all].

Plant used for gout 3,000 years -- in pill form since 1800s.  Pharma somehow got exclusive rights (normal apparently) -- price shot up from 9 cents a tablet to $4.85.
2013 increase in price of brand name drugs (higher every year): 12.9%.  That approaches 200% added (300%) every 10 years.
Tetracycline, 1948 drug: 5 cents a capsule until 2013 -- now $11.
Clomipramine, 1960s antidepressent, 22 cents a pill up to 2012 -- now $8.17.
In Australia, 2010, Amedra Pharmaceuticals bought the rights to abendazole, off patent, intestinal parasite drug selling for $6 a day -- raised to $120.

[Another day, another drug]

Nitropress, generic blood pressure drug went for $44 a vial way, way back in the year 2013.  Now sold by Valeant Pharaceuticals for $806. 

According to a spokesman, no one will ever be denied this medication: “These are drugs that are only used by hospitals — they are not sold in pharmacies — in accordance with specific surgical procedures. This means that whenever the protocol calls for use of these drugs, they are used.”

[$2,000 in far away Canada -- $20,000 for us in the US]

"The price of a 30-milligram injection of the drug, according to the bill, was $19,827.90. Because at least four shots would be needed, they were looking at pharmacy charges approaching $80,000 and nearly $16,000 in copays.

"A 30-mg dose of Lupron Depot is available from Canadian pharmacies for under $2,000, according to the website"

 Ever elongating list grows from here.

[$250,000 a year breakthrough cystic fibrosis drug -- and more]

"A breakthrough new drug, Orkambi, for patients [with cystic fibrosis, a life-threatening genetic condition that causes severe damage to lungs] — along with sticker shock, at an annual price tag of more than a quarter million dollars. 

"[A]t more than $300,000 a year, Kalydeco costs even more than Orkambi ...  Both Orkambi and Kalydeco are made by Vertex, a Boston-based pharmaceutical firm ... "

[Post Script]

Is it too late to recount the tale off a sleeping pill whose name I forget, but which cost $10 a month in 10mg dose -- and $200 a month in a lower 5mg dose: a "new drug"; trials having shown that some patients do better on the half dose.  That's how today's law is written. 

 How the US Congress Hands US Corporate Taxes To Europe
02/08/2016     Jeffrey Sachs

" The present case of Gilead is even more absurd. The company owns the patent on blockbuster drug Sofosbuvir, the cure for Hepatitis C. The company bought the drug from the drug developer Pharmasett, which did all of its R&D in the United States. Yet the intellectual property on Sofosbuvir is claimed by Gilead to be in Ireland for tax purposes. When Gilead fleeces the U.S. government by charging $1,000 for a pill that costs $1 to manufacture, and the money is paid by the U.S. government to pay for treatment of a U.S. citizen in the U.S., Gilead has the chutzpah to book the U.S. profits in Ireland. And they get away with it.

" You can't make this stuff up.

" But here's the further twist. The European Governments are seeing how the U.S. companies are getting off without paying taxes. So now the European tax authorities are stepping forward to collect taxes on the profits earned by U.S. tech companies in Europe. And the companies are indeed settling with the European tax authorities for billions of dollars in tax payments -- taxes that should be paid, not to Europe, but to the U.S. Treasury.

"As I said, you can't make this stuff up.

" So the bottom line is as follows. In their interest to garner favor with U.S. companies (mainly in search of campaign funds), the U.S. Congress has allowed these companies to escape U.S. corporate taxes by magically declaring that their IP is located in some foreign tax haven. Yet instead of the money remaining with the U.S. companies, as Congress intended, it is increasingly going into the European tax coffers. "

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