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Big Pharma Presses US To Quash Cheap Drug Production In India 255

Posted by Soulskill
from the protecting-a-business-model dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), are leaning on the United States government to discourage India from allowing the production and sale of affordable generic drugs to treat diseases such as cancer, diabetes, HIV/AIDS and hepatitis. India is currently on the U.S. government's Priority Watch List — countries whose practices on protecting intellectual property Washington believes should be monitored closely. Last year Novartis lost a six-year legal battle after the Indian Supreme court ruled that small changes and improvements to the drug Glivec did not amount to innovation deserving of a patent. Western drugmakers Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis, Roche Holding, Sanofi, and others have a bigger share of the fast-growing drug market in India. But they have been frustrated by a series of decisions on patents and pricing, as part of New Delhi's push to increase access to life-saving treatments in a place where only 15 percent of 1.2 billion people are covered by health insurance. One would certainly understand and probably agree with the need for for cheaper drugs. But don't forget that big pharma, for all its problems still is the number one creator of new drugs. In 2012 alone, the U.S. government and private companies spent a combined $130 billion (PDF) on medical research."
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Big Pharma Presses US To Quash Cheap Drug Production In India

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  • by timothy (36799) Works for Slashdot on Friday February 07, 2014 @07:59PM (#46191309) Homepage Journal

    It sounds odd, or the start of a joke, but I'm serious.

    She ordered some variety of medicine from an online pharmacy (which one, I don't know) and had some heavy cognitive dissonance. 'Did I just give money to scammers?' She waited slightly longer than she expected to, and had the thought that she really had been taken for a ride ... but then they arrived, and (to her surprise) were postmarked India.

    "They were cheap, and worked."

    She'll be displeased to hear about just how far regulatory capture can go, in this arena ...

    timothy

  • by ebno-10db (1459097) on Friday February 07, 2014 @08:14PM (#46191417)

    Yup. A friend of mine needed some medications, taken on a regular basis. IIRC he had some limited insurance, but it didn't cover squat in medication. He ordered them online from a pharmacy in Canada. A legitimate outfit - had to show he had the prescriptions and whatnot. The meds were drop shipped from Switzerland and India, complete with funny foreign return addresses and stamps. He saved a bundle. There were the real McCoy too, not some brand X knockoff. Switzerland and India was where they were made.

    Even better is doggy Prozac. Apparently they have Prozac for dogs - and it's the exact same stuff, from the same factory, but at a fraction of the price. This one is 2nd hand, from my neighbor the veterinarian, but she's not a BS artist. A coworker's wife had a Prozac Rx, so hubby writes an Rx for their dog, and she takes it.

  • Fuck Beta (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 07, 2014 @08:15PM (#46191429)

           

    Please post this to new articles if it hasn't been posted yet. (Copy-paste the html from here [pastebin.com] so links don't get mangled!)

           

    On February 5, 2014, Slashdot announced through a javascript popup that they are starting to "move in to" the new Slashdot Beta design. Slashdot Beta is a trend-following attempt to give Slashdot a fresh look, an approach that has led to less space for text and an abandonment of the traditional Slashdot look. Much worse than that, Slashdot Beta fundamentally breaks the classic Slashdot discussion and moderation system.

           

    If you haven't seen Slashdot Beta already, open this [slashdot.org] in a new tab. After seeing that, click here [slashdot.org] to return to classic Slashdot.

           

    We should boycott stories and only discuss the abomination that is Slashdot Beta until Dice abandons the project.
    We should boycott slashdot entirely during the week of Feb 10 to Feb 17 as part of the wider slashcott [slashdot.org]

           

    Moderators - only spend mod points on comments that discuss Beta
    Commentors - only discuss Beta
      http://slashdot.org/recent [slashdot.org] - Vote up the Fuck Beta stories

           

    Keep this up for a few days and we may finally get the PHBs attention.

            -----=====##### LINKS #####=====-----
           

    Discussion of Beta: http://slashdot.org/firehose.pl?op=view&id=56395415 [slashdot.org]

            Discussion of where to go if Beta goes live: http://slashdot.org/firehose.pl?op=view&type=submission&id=3321441 [slashdot.org]

            Alternative Slashdot: http://altslashdot.org [altslashdot.org] (thanks Okian Warrior (537106) [slashdot.org])

  • Re:Jai Hind! (Score:4, Informative)

    by ebno-10db (1459097) on Friday February 07, 2014 @08:34PM (#46191569)

    They can put trace levels of mercury into vaccines

    You're talking about thimerosal. They stopped using that in 1999. I'm not a big defender of big pharma, but for the record. What's interesting is that the FDA banned it from livestock vaccines before they stopped using it on humans.

  • by icebike (68054) on Friday February 07, 2014 @08:35PM (#46191577)

    Get rid of FDA, get rid of government and basically costs drop dramatically that prices could truly be taken down

    The FDA doesn't keep drug prices high, they keep people alive. Returning to the days of snake oil is not the solution.

    The problem is that patents can be extended by silly little changes that have no real effect, and the world is deprived of the invention or charged unconscionable amounts of money. Glivec (Imatinib) the first of the exceptionally expensive cancer drugs, costing $92,000 a year. Yet its development costs were not that great, and production costs have fallen dramatically.(especially in India).

  • Re:Jai Hind! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Applehu Akbar (2968043) on Friday February 07, 2014 @09:18PM (#46191925)
    There is no necessary connection between assuring drug safety and using the legal system to prop up a monopoly, although the FDA long ago mission-crept beyond its safety mandate to become a willing enabler of Bigger And Bigger Pharma. The FDA keeps compounds that have been selling in Europe and Canada off the US market for years, just to delay competition with one of the big domestic moneymakers. You're not going to convince me that European safety agencies are more lax than the FDA.

    Guys, were you aware that in April, 2012, the patent on Viagra expired? But this was not a great day in the history of masculinity because Pfizer was able to get a federal judge to extend its reign to 2019 on the usual mysterious technical grounds.

  • No magic bullet. (Score:5, Informative)

    by westlake (615356) on Friday February 07, 2014 @09:41PM (#46192117)
    There is no quick, cheap, safe path to the development of a new drug.

    Someone has to pay the bill.

    Glaxo spent more than $350 million over 25 years to develop [a malaria] vaccine for military personnel and travelers and expects to invest an additional $260 million to complete development. But Glaxo was reluctant to pay for pediatric trials in impoverished nations on its own, so the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation provided $200 million through the nonprofit PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative to drive development and testing over the finish line.

    Hope for a Malaria Vaccine [nytimes.com] [Oct 1013]

  • Bad either way... (Score:3, Informative)

    by frank_adrian314159 (469671) on Friday February 07, 2014 @09:42PM (#46192145) Homepage

    I am not a shill for the drug companies by any means. That being said, I think the third world's energies would be better spent dealing with their quality issues before they got butt hurt over this move by big pharma's lobby. In reality, drugs sourced from India and/or China are a crap shoot. Read Derek Lowe's blog "In the Pipeline [corante.com]" for information on this industry and pharmacological chemistry.

    Yes, India may be getting unfairly punished for it's ability to manufacture drugs inexpensively, but unfair things go on all the time - just look at Slashdot beta!

  • by maynard (3337) <[j.maynard.gelinas] [at] [gmail.com]> on Friday February 07, 2014 @10:40PM (#46192539) Journal

    (Of course, a true communist would reply: it will be free, because taxes will pay for it.)

    Taxes have nothing to do with communism. In a communism all productive assets is owned by the state. That means farmland, power plants, factories, and all deeded property. Personal property is excluded; the state doesn't care about your model train collection.

    Intellectual property would fall under state deeded property just as housing does. That's because only the state manages property deeds and assigns ownership. That the ownership is automatically assigned to the state merely simplifies bureaucratic administrative overhead. The state might be inefficient in aggregate, but not so in the Registration of Deeds office.

    I know it's nit picky, but your statement conflates that communist system with every other government system imagined. Every government that has existed taxed its citizens to provide for a common good. Governments tax to build roads, bridges, schools, military and police departments. New research and development is funded through education grants. For example: the internet. Also: medical research. In fact, a lot of tax money is spent on drug development.

    Perhaps you think government shouldn't do these things. Some even think government should be abolished. But to argue the abolishment of government on the pretense that taxes equals communism mixes terms and beliefs such that the rationale is nothing more than nonsense. It's no argument. It's not anticommunist or pro-USA or holds any ideological consistency.

  • Re:Jai Hind! (Score:5, Informative)

    by wierd_w (1375923) on Saturday February 08, 2014 @06:12AM (#46194273)

    Thalidomide is an interesting case.

    It is a photo enantiomer, meaning that it has a left handed, and right handed isomer that will bend light one way, or another, when in solution.

    The right handed isomer is an effective sedative, while the left handed one is a tetragenic compound.

    The problem is that even if highly refined so that only R isomer is administered, the pH of the patient's blood will racemize the isomers again.

    It could be entirely possible for thalidomide to be safe, if administered with a chaparone to prevent racemization.

    At the time, the preparations of thalidomide were a heterogenous mix of both isomers, as there was no research into possible side effects from the mixed sample, and the prospect of birth defects wasnt considered, as the intended use was not for treating morning sickness. As an anti-cancer treatment for non-pregnant people [mayoclinic.org], it is still a useful compound.

    Thalidomide was originally developed as a sedative/hypnotic compound, and not as a treatment for nausea. (This would be similar to say, scopolamine, which is used to treat motion sickness. This is not meant to imply that the comounds are related. They arent. However, scopolamine is ALSO useful for treating some forms of nausea. Fancy that.) The use as treatment for nausea is what heralded the use of the product to treat morning sickness, and the subsequent epidemic of infant mortality and deformity that swept the world. It isn't that thalidomide is a bad drug: it was, and is still being shown to be a VERY useful drug. The problem is that thalidomide was not used properly, and was provided OTC, which strongly exacerbated the problem. To pick on poor scopolamine again, it too had a stint as an OTC motion sickness medicine and sleep aid, which ended up causing all manner of problems when certain... shall we say, "Degenerate" people discovered that it made an excellent date rape drug when dissolved in alcoholic beverages.

    It isn't that either drug is "bad". It is that the lust for profits from the sale of the drugs can lead to very bad decisions in marketing and distribution of those drugs. Drugs developed for a certain purpose should be extensively and thuroughtly tested for efficacy before being used in alternative manners; such as for instance, Minoxadil. It is the primary ingredient in Rogaine, a male hairloss treatment with FDA approval. It was originally a prescription heart medicine for treating hypertension. It took quite some time for minoxadil to recieve FDA approval for treating alopecia. That is a good thing, as the testing helped establish what the ideal dosages are, and that the concentration must be different for treating women than for treating men. If minoxadil had been rushed to market as a treatment for alopecia, there could have been very dangerous results, since it *IS* a blood pressure medication! This is one of the reasons why rogaine is a topically applied preparation, and not a preparation for internal consumption. (The regrowth of hair was a common side effect of orally administered minoxadil for treating hypertension. Oral administration of the compound would be effective for regrowing hair, but the concentrations needed would make taking the drug dangerous to a patient's cardiac health. Topically applied minoxadil allows high concentrations at the site of interest, with a slow overall rate of absorption, making it ineffective at lowering blood pressure. If rushed to market, it is quite concievable that minoxadil tablets would have been seen for treating alopecia, and that there would have been class action suits as bald people all over started dieing.)

    The FDA's insistence on efficacy studies is to prevent dangerous drug use, and to ensure that a drug actually does what it says it does. The long term drug study requirements are intended to catch things like thalidomide birth defects, as it would have shown up with thalidomide being used as a sedative/hypnotic as a

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