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Medicine Biotech Businesses

Why New Antibiotics Never Come To Market (vice.com) 345

citadrianne writes: New antibiotics are generated naturally over time by bacteria, as weapons in their ongoing chemical warfare against other microbes. Predicting where and when they can be found relies mostly on good fortune and following a hunch. Scientist Brian Murphy's hunch is that the bacteria which live on freshwater sponges could be a hive of new chemicals. "We don’t know a huge amount about these species," he said. "But the only way to find out if there’s anything there is by actually diving down there and carving them off with a knife." But even if these sponges yield the antibiotics of the future, there are seemingly endless roadblocks that prevent us from actually using them to cure disease. "We've discovered six antibiotics in the recent past," Professor William Fenical said. "Of those, three to four have serious potential as far as we know, including anthramycin. But we have no way to develop them. There are no companies in the United States that care. They're happy to sell existing antibiotics, but they're not interested in researching and developing new ones."
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Why New Antibiotics Never Come To Market

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  • You must choose.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by JoeMerchant ( 803320 ) on Friday November 06, 2015 @04:24PM (#50879505)

    You have billions of dollars, and a business that makes billions more per year.

    Do you choose to continue that business and rake in personal rewards like a G5 and an island to fly it to, or do you invest the billions on a risky venture that might pay off some time in the next 10 to 15 years?

    Answer from the perspective of a 60 year old with multiple cancers.

    • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Friday November 06, 2015 @04:26PM (#50879521) Journal

      This is what happens when you allow sociopaths to run corporations. Sociopaths should, upon discovery, be forceably removed from society at gunpoint and sent to an island together where they can fuck each other, eat each other, or whatever it is these vile neurologically inhuman monsters do to each other. No sociopath should ever have control of even a single normal, empathic human being in even the tiniest way.,

      • by quantaman ( 517394 ) on Friday November 06, 2015 @04:31PM (#50879569)

        This is what happens when you allow sociopaths to run corporations. Sociopaths should, upon discovery, be forceably removed from society at gunpoint and sent to an island together where they can fuck each other, eat each other, or whatever it is these vile neurologically inhuman monsters do to each other. No sociopath should ever have control of even a single normal, empathic human being in even the tiniest way.,

        That's a very sociopathic approach to the problem.

        Sociopaths are human beings who have what could be considered in a mental illness, in some settings they can be quite dangerous and harmful, in others their illness can even be an asset.

        • This.

          If GP really wants to outcast people whose only crime is being born with a brain wired in a way that he doesn't like, then perhaps he should move to his own island and appoint himself the Chief of Thought Police.

          Anyways, the reason nobody works on these is probably because our existing antibiotics already work really well, likewise it wouldn't be terribly practical to develop more.

          I think money and time would be much better spent developing antiviral, antifungal, and anticancer drugs, because all of th

          • The reason it is so profitable for companies to continue to sell old antibiotics is that the research and marketing is largely done. It' s pure profit with no additional investment. And there is no competition because they are protected by long patent terms.

            Patents exist (see Art. 1, Sec 8 of the US Constitution) to encourage science and the arts. Not to encourage profit. The Congress has been bought and they keep extending the length of patent and copyright protections.

            So shorten the time that patents

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by ranton ( 36917 )

              atents exist (see Art. 1, Sec 8 of the US Constitution) to encourage science and the arts. Not to encourage profit.

              That is a very odd statement. Patents encourage science and the arts by protecting profits.

              So shorten the time that patents are in effect. When the old antibiotics become public domain there will be a strong incentive for the big rich pharma companies to invest in developing the new ones.

              Where is the incentive? If they can still profit selling a branded antibiotic with a generic formula, they will do so. Tylenol is still sold even though you can buy cheaper generic acetaminophen.

              The incentive to develop new drugs is only the profits the new drug can make. And shortening patent length on future drugs limits those profits. It won't stop drug development, but it certainly would reduce it. It may still be

              • Re:Patent terms (Score:5, Insightful)

                by suutar ( 1860506 ) on Friday November 06, 2015 @05:38PM (#50880191)

                but protecting profits is a _means_, not an _end_. In this case there is evidence that we're pushing the means to the detriment of the end.

                • by ranton ( 36917 )

                  but protecting profits is a _means_, not an _end_. In this case there is evidence that we're pushing the means to the detriment of the end.

                  Only if you believe reducing potential profits would help incentivize companies to invest more in drug development. It's not a ridiculous belief, but it is not very intuitive and it has a high barrier of proof. I find it hard to believe that drug companies would poor more money into antibiotics if there was less potential profit in doing so.

                  And it appears from a quick Google search that all of the antibiotics I had hear of, like Amoxicillin, are already available as generics. So I don't see how patents are

              • by sjames ( 1099 )

                Where is the incentive? If they can still profit selling a branded antibiotic with a generic formula, they will do so. Tylenol is still sold even though you can buy cheaper generic acetaminophen.

                Sure, but in the mean while, they are all trying to develop the next generation blockbuster NSAID,

                The profits from patent protection should be just enough to spur more innovation and no more. When you buy a car, do you pay the salesman the least amount he will accept for the car or do you toss in a $20,000 tip?

            • The reason it is so profitable for companies to continue to sell old antibiotics is that the research and marketing is largely done. It' s pure profit with no additional investment. And there is no competition because they are protected by long patent terms.

              I think the patent term is only 17 years or so - and pharmaceuticals tend to have a lengthy approval process, so it ends up being shorter. Basically anything invented in the mid-1990s or earlier is off-patent (with the caveat that use for specific indic

          • by Calydor ( 739835 )

            Anyways, the reason nobody works on these is probably because our existing antibiotics already work really well,

            If you don't take into account the growing number of things you can't treat with existing antibiotics because the bacteria are developing resistances to them.

            We should be working on new antibiotics NOW, not when we can't fight disease anymore.

        • Sociopaths would not exist in our society were there not some evolutionary advantage to being an asshole. There clearly is an advantage in some situations and at some level of lack of empathy. But at the same time if that lack of empathy extends too far the advantage becomes a very sharp disadvantage. This has kept the number of sociopaths in society as a certain fixed percentage that's remained relatively stable for a very long time from what they can see in demographic records.

          The problem of sequestering

          • by khallow ( 566160 )
            Plus, the behavior the earlier poster wanted to exile, isn't actually psychopathy, but normal human behavior among those who have achieved wealth and power. We have plenty of sayings and stories about people who get power and become corrupted by it. Meanwhile the idea that only bad people get power is ludicrous and routinely disputed in any era of history where it surfaces.
        • Sociopaths are human beings who have what could be considered in a mental illness, in some settings they can be quite dangerous and harmful, in others their illness can even be an asset.

          Like as CEOs and executioners

      • no go off to school for 20 years and then come back and research some new drugs for us for free
      • This is what happens when you allow sociopaths to run corporations.

        When it comes to running a corporation, being a sociopath is a feature, not a bug.

        This, unfortunately, is what late-stage capitalism looks like. To paraphrase Ronald Reagan,

        “I believe that Capitalism is another sad, bizarre chapter in human history whose last pages even now are being written. I believe this because the source of our strength in the quest for human freedom is not material, but spiritual. And because it knows no limitat

    • by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Friday November 06, 2015 @04:37PM (#50879619) Homepage

      Leaving out the Strum Und Drang for a moment, lets look the TFA. You have this interesting character that runs around and looks for novel biologics. This isn't really breaking new ground - there are thousands of people out in various biomes doing exactly that. Seems like our good prospector has had some success taking a few chemicals and doing some basic research on them with potentially useful results. Kinda neat way to make a living actually.

      The article gets more than a little squishy when it talks about the End of the Antibiotic World As We Know It and makes it sound like we're all going to die in a septic heap because of the transgressions of our society. While there is some validity to the 'superbug' hypothesis, it really is only an edge problem. Some people die of multidrug resistant infections, but not many. The antibiotics we have work pretty well.

      So, from an economic standpoint, Big Pharma has a point. It costs one hell of a lot of money to take a random, complex molecule and try to make an economic product out of it. Remember, it's pretty easy to get a molecule to destroy a bacterium - Chlorox works great and is rather inexpensive. It's just hard to get a molecule that targets ONLY a bacterium (or cancer cell) and leaves the rest of the organism alone. So this guy has his work cut out for him and has a lot of competition in other "bioprospectors". His business plan is not in it for the long run of taking a molecule from the field to the syringe - he wants to go back out into the field and get more critters to play with. He wants somebody else to do the real grunt work.

      Yep, the system could work better but it sounds like this guy needs to start writing a few NSF grants.

      • by oh_my_080980980 ( 773867 ) on Friday November 06, 2015 @04:45PM (#50879691)
        Reading comprehension isn't your strong point.

        "...little funding is available from the public sector.

        Twenty-five years ago, the urgent need to find treatments for HIV became a politically charged battleground. Faced with intense pressure to deliver results, the US National Institute of Infectious Diseases became a center entirely dedicated to virology. This remains the case today, but there are now no national programs aimed at tackling drug-resistant bacteria."
        • Yes, the HIV scare did run up a lot of money for what is a relatively small problem, but the entire biomedical funding system in the US is at risk for this sort of 'disease of the year' problem. Sure, if we decided to pour a big enough pile of money in this guy's way we would make some progress but this isnt the only field of science that could use more money.

          And it's not quite true that the ID institute 'just' funded virology. A lot of scientists shut their mouths and started pounding on typewriters (rem

          • In the long run, less political manipulation of scientific goals and more robust, long term funding would help many fields of science

            Sounds great in fantasy-land, but you're just not going to get that in reality. So the scientists have to take what they can get, which is the "disease of the year" problem: something gets public attention and everyone starts screaming for the government to fund it, which it does. It's just like space exploration: there was a big political push to land Americans on the Moon

        • Have no fear, it won't be long before people start dropping dead of previously curable diseases. There's already a completely untreatable version of tuberculosis that's developed that doesn't respond to a single antibiotic. The state has been going to court and getting forced quarantine orders on the cases they discover. It won't be long before there is a massive outbreak of untreatable TB which will kill enough people to cause this to change.

      • by gtall ( 79522 ) on Friday November 06, 2015 @05:02PM (#50879863)

        Roughly 25 years ago, I did work on a system that went to a major drug company. I learned that at that time, it cost roughly $1 billion to get a new drug to market. Of the hundreds of candidates that they would start testing, only 1 or 2 would have the right properties of not killing the patient, not having horrible side effects, etc. And the documentation required by the regulators would fill several semis, because it isn't enough to prove to yourselves that you have a wonder drug, you must prove it to the regulators. This is to prevent Joe's Bait and Pharmacology Shop from putting snake oil on the market. Once on the market, your drug must compete against others. And if those others are in their generic phase, you can express pricing pressure as well.

        Then the market for the drug must be assessed. In the case of antibiotics, there are many of them out there, many in generics, so bringing a new one on the market is destined to not sell well...at least as long as too many people aren't dying from super-bugs.

        This is a prime area for government research and development. The conservatives and libertarians will whine about the fed. gov. getting into the drug business. However, this is what we expect our government to do, i.e., make up for the shortfalls of private industry. The way I look at it, private industry has a big tote board. When frequency of deaths due to super-bugs rise above a certain level, they'll move. Until then, the conservatives and libertarians will gladly attend your funeral...just kidding, they don't give a flying rat's ass about you.

        • I only whine when the Feds do all the work, on our dime, yet we end up with a drug company getting all the profits. If the Feds decided to put a few rules on it that allowed it to make sense for US citizens like manufacture it in the US and sell it at a reasonable cost then I'm fine with it. I suspect many other citizens would be fine with that arrangement too.
          • by the gnat ( 153162 ) on Friday November 06, 2015 @05:35PM (#50880169)

            I only whine when the Feds do all the work, on our dime, yet we end up with a drug company getting all the profits.

            This is rarely the case - only 25% of new drugs originate in (presumably federally-funded) academic labs, and even those have to go through a lengthy development process mostly paid for by companies.

        • However, this is what we expect our government to do, i.e., make up for the shortfalls of private industry.

          I missed that part of the Constitution

      • by TVDinner ( 1067340 ) on Friday November 06, 2015 @05:25PM (#50880085)
        I worked in the pharma industry for a bit so let's look at some numbers:

        Pharma business is split into 3 basic areas: Discovery, Development, Commercial.

        Discovery: 10k molecules are examined to get to 250 that look promising and down to about 5 to get sent into development. This takes about 5 years. Costs vary wildly. Key concept (among many) here is molecules get thinned down usually because they don't work or aren't safe (Chlorox), but sometimes you just can't manufacture it even if you wanted to make it.

        Development: Those 5 are then put through Development which is composed of pre-clincals (tissues and at least 2 species of animals), phase 1, 2a, 2b and 3 trials (human). The patent on the molecule is done early in this process and is good for 20 years. Development lasts about 9 years and costs around US$800m. Key concept here (again out of many) is molecules get dropped off here due to their ADME (absorption, distribution, metabolism, excretion) properties. If you can't deliver the molecule to where it needs to go, it won't work as a drug.

        Commercial: Out of Development, there is only about 1 molecule that becomes a drug. You've now spent upwards of US$1b including the cost of failures. The new drug has a patent for around 12 years or so (remember you patented it early in the Development phase). If you don't make that $1b back somehow, you won't be in business very long to develop other drugs. You now have cost of manufacture. This is usually pretty small for small molecule drugs that can be put into a pill, but can be expensive for large molecule (biologic) drugs that are intravenous (think insulin). You also have to collect data and send it to regulatory bodies (phase 4).

        So this guy has found a few molecules (one that is hard to get any kind of quantity of from TFA) that are part of the 10k funnel at the beginning of the process. Could be that companies have other compounds that they are exploring that are further in the process. They may be seeing if those fail before starting to look at his. Super-bugs aren't new so companies may have been looking at them already (5 yr Discovery funnel).

        And before anyone goes whining about Big Phara, think what you would do if you spent a billion dollars on developing ONE item and had tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of employees that you would like to keep around. How would you decide WHAT to develop and HOW to price it?
    • most of this business is selling drugs to feed cows and pigs. human drugs are a small part of the market
    • by khallow ( 566160 )
      Antibiotics are strictly a money loser due to the regulations about testing. The business spends tens of millions of dollars on a roll of the dice and all they'll get out of it is a rarely used, low revenue antibiotic. You can't even begin to understand the problem until you understand the disincentives.
    • Answer from the perspective of a 60 year old with multiple cancers.

      "A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in." Greek Proverb

      ~Loyal

  • >> They're happy to sell existing antibiotics, but they're not interested in researching and developing new ones."They're happy to sell existing antibiotics, but they're not interested in researching and developing new ones."

    Said a guy who hasn't been paying attention to the way drugs get developed in the US? (New drugs can be patented and sold for outrageous amounts of money.) Or maybe the professor just needs to switch to a different university that knows how to monetize his work.

    Besides, isn't t

    • Because drugs have been patented and sold for obscene piles of money, the regulatory environment has "stepped up their game," in requiring newer drugs to prove their safety and efficacy with obscenely expensive testing protocols before coming to market. Not only does this "protect the public," it also happens to protect the income stream of those who are selling the current crop of drugs, so it's a very strongly enforced agenda.

      Mr. sponge diver is frustrated because he knows about a chemical which he suspe

      • Because drugs have been patented and sold for obscene piles of money, the regulatory environment has "stepped up their game," in requiring newer drugs to prove their safety and efficacy with obscenely expensive testing protocols before coming to market.

        The failure rate for Phase III clinical trials is somewhere between 25% and 50% - i.e. over half of the drugs that make it through Phases I and II are still not effective enough for regulatory approval. We can therefore reasonably assume that if we get rid o

    • by hawguy ( 1600213 )

      >> They're happy to sell existing antibiotics, but they're not interested in researching and developing new ones."They're happy to sell existing antibiotics, but they're not interested in researching and developing new ones."

      Said a guy who hasn't been paying attention to the way drugs get developed in the US? (New drugs can be patented and sold for outrageous amounts of money.) Or maybe the professor just needs to switch to a different university that knows how to monetize his work.

      Besides, isn't the market for antibiotics shrinking now that they are no longer routinely prescribed for minor ailments?

      A new, super expensive antibiotic would be prescribed very rarely -- only in cases where such a special antibiotic were truly necessary. Even if you charge $2,000 a dose, you still need to sell a million doses to make back the two billion dollars it took to develop and test the drug.

      Even if you sell it cheaply, it can take years before it becomes commonplace since it's still a new and untested treatment, so well known alternatives will be tried first, and you have limited time to earn back the development c

  • The dwindling effectiveness of antibiotics is a public safety issue. No big company is going to want to take the hit and invest millions of dollars into developing new antibiotics when the return is likely to be a long way off and isn't guaranteed at all. For things like this, it makes sense to use tax money to fund research and then contract companies to develop medicines (or, god forbid, just build some government facilities to develop and produce them there).

    • I would think this is an obvious approach. Of course this is a public issue - and one that is extremely unprofitable for private corporations to tackle. But I don't understand - is the average American opposed to government funded research into antibiotics? If so, why?

  • Of course not (Score:5, Interesting)

    by khelms ( 772692 ) on Friday November 06, 2015 @04:36PM (#50879615)

    The pharmaceutical companies aren't interested in developing inexpensive drugs you take a few times and then are done with. They want to develop something you have to take for the rest of your life to treat a chronic condition and charge as much as they can get away with. That's why both new antibiotics and new vaccines are seldom developed.

    Americans pay far more for their prescription drugs than the rest of the world and the excuse is that we're funding "innovation". Most of the innovation going on seems to be coming up with slight variations of existing drugs in order to extend the copyright and doing their best to delay a generic version of a drug from being marketed.

    Even when a generic version of a drug appears, greed is often in play. Just a month or two again, this was in the news "The rights to Daraprim were purchased in August by a new company, Turing Pharmaceuticals, which promptly increased the price from $13.50 per tablet to $750 per tablet -- a 5,000 percent jump -- the New York Times reported."

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by JoeMerchant ( 803320 )

      I've seen plenty of new vaccines developed, the one that comes to mind at the moment is HPV - in 2000, HPV was just a nuisance that women got regular pap smears for, then cervical resurfacing when they came up positive with "precancerous lesions." We asked "What about HPV testing" when presented with a "just cut a loop around the cervix, it might mean you won't be able to carry a child to term, but it will prevent cancer" diagnosis in 2000, and were told "oh, that's all theoretical stuff, you can get teste

      • Re:Of course not (Score:4, Insightful)

        by DRJlaw ( 946416 ) on Friday November 06, 2015 @08:27PM (#50881053)

        Fast forward to 2005 and there's a new "HPV vaccine" legally required to be administered to all Texas schoolgirls virtually on the day it was cleared for use by the FDA. Tell me there's no profit in a vaccine that state Governors push laws through to require for school attendance.

        Except "2005" was actually February 2007, "legally required" was an executive order issued by then-Governor Rick Perry ("individual liberty-R-us"), and the Texas legislature promptly overrode the executive order in June 2007 so that there never was any "legally required" vaccination for school attendance.

        Moderated to +4 informative, yet almost completely wrong on the objectively veribiable information. I think I'll disregard your HPV treatment anecdote as well...

      • Re:Of course not (Score:5, Insightful)

        by labnet ( 457441 ) on Friday November 06, 2015 @09:01PM (#50881173)

        And the HPV vaccine came from Australian public reseach dollars, $$$$ pharma.

    • Or perhaps...they'll wait until we misuse the current batch of antibiotics so much that we truly and desperately need a new antibiotic. Throwing a portfolio of effective pharmaceuticals at the market when existing drugs are reasonably effective and profitable might not be in everyone's interest.
    • Even when a generic version of a drug appears, greed is often in play. Just a month or two again, this was in the news "The rights to Daraprim were purchased in August by a new company, Turing Pharmaceuticals, which promptly increased the price from $13.50 per tablet to $750 per tablet -- a 5,000 percent jump -- the New York Times reported."

      Followed by another company that is selling the pill for less than a dollar per pill. But that's not as sensational, is it?
      http://science.slashdot.org/story/15/10/25/1420259/drug-firm-offers-1-version-of-750-daraprim-pill [slashdot.org]

      • by khelms ( 772692 )
        You're right. I had not even heard that news. I guess once a drug's in the "public domain", you can't get too crazy with the price or somebody will undercut you. I expect the next article will be about "A" suing "B".
      • by khelms ( 772692 )

        After reading the details, the second company is producing "custom" formulations for individual patients that should behave the same as the original FDA approved drug, but are not exactly the same and are not themselves FDA approved. My impression is that they're tweaking the recipe in an attempt to not get sued.

        If the resulting drug(s) provides the same benefits as the original, I'd say more power to them.

    • inexpensive drugs you take a few times and then are done with

      For most conditions these are simply a fantasy. There are very few true "cures" in medicine, only varying degrees of palliatives. The idea that we'd all be living cancer-free to 150 years if only Big Pharma would focus on real cures is absolute nonsense, because it's extraordinarily difficult to make a drug that magically eradicates all traces of an ailment without severely damaging the host. People who think otherwise need to take a few biolog

      • by khelms ( 772692 )
        I was referring to antibiotics as "a drug you take a few times and then are done with" and not to "miracle cures". When it comes to bacterial infections, an antibiotic (if it works) really is something that eradicates all traces of an ailment.
        • Actually it does not. It removes the "feeling ill" perception ... but enough bacteria survive to develop resistance.
          Especially if you indeed "a drug you take a few times and then are done with" instead of following the prescription and the text on the paper in the box: take all pills!!!

    • "Americans pay far more for their prescription drugs than the rest of the world"

      I'm assuming you mean individual Americans....wouldn't someone in Europe end-up paying the same amount for the drug as well? What I mean is that someone is paying for the drug, whether it's individual citizens or the government health insurance programs. Wouldn't antibiotics be the same everywhere regardless of who pays for it (currency exchange rates aside)?

    • I'm confused (Score:5, Interesting)

      by LunaticTippy ( 872397 ) on Friday November 06, 2015 @06:04PM (#50880373)
      I keep hearing about how there are no new antibiotics, but I never really looked into it. A quick gooble search found 36 new antibiotics [pewtrusts.org] currently in development. Some of them are combinations of existing antibiotics (a promising but not very innovative approach) and some of them are new molecules.
  • But we have no way to develop them. There are no companies in the United States that care.

    And is the rest of the world the same? It is bigger than the United States, y'know.

    • by blue9steel ( 2758287 ) on Friday November 06, 2015 @05:07PM (#50879899)

      And is the rest of the world the same? It is bigger than the United States, y'know.

      Sure, there is plenty of other land mass but they are either over-regulated, poor, or have low quality research infrastructures. The majority of all new drugs come out of research from the United States and that trend has only increased over the last forty years. That doesn't mean everything is happy days here, excessive market consolidation has reduced the number of new substances produced by more than 60%.

      • You mean all those drugs that are peddled in-between Dr.Phil and Dr.Oz? Yes, I imagine those are likely American in nature.
        Perhaps you need something for your shaky-leg-syndrome then.
    • The rest of the world wants the US pharmaceutical companies to develop the new drugs so they can be sold in the US at a high price and dumped elsewhere.

      It wouldn't be right for people in other countries to bear the actual cost of developing the drugs they use.

  • by bravecanadian ( 638315 ) on Friday November 06, 2015 @04:40PM (#50879649)

    basic/pure research is done through government funding of some form.

    Much to the chagrin of the free market zealots.

    Drug companies spend more on marketing than they do on R&D.

    • by khelms ( 772692 )
      Exactly. Something like 50% of new drugs are developed by research at universities - funded by our tax dollars - and they turn around and sell the rights to a pharma company who then charges us a high price for that drug that we already subsidized the development of.
      • Exactly. Something like 50% of new drugs are developed by research at universities - funded by our tax dollars - and they turn around and sell the rights to a pharma company who then charges us a high price for that drug that we already subsidized the development of.

        I've read about this happening and there should be more control over the rights to the results of public research.

        I know the argument always given is that someone has to produce the actual products of the research and the pharma company is already equipped to do so.. but the margins on those products should certainly be very limited for the public good.

        • Re:This is why.. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by khelms ( 772692 ) on Friday November 06, 2015 @05:00PM (#50879849)
          Pharma has to fund the clinical trials and going through the lengthy approval process, so they obviously deserve some profits from their efforts. Just don't jack the price into the stratosphere and tell us it's because of the cost of your research when you didn't come up with the drug in the first place.
      • Incorrect. It's more like 25% at most, and the part that your tax dollars pay for is the research, not the development, which is typically paid for by the company.

    • In early '90s Pharmaceutical companies where prevented from advertising prescription medication, then ban was lifted, and low the marketing budget exploded. We should reinstate the ban - sick and tired of seeing Viagra commercials.
    • Marketing has bigger, and much faster, ROI than R&D.

      I worked for a grant funded company once, the federal grants paid us for 6 months to develop the product, then they paid us for another 18 months to develop and prosecute the FDA submission for permission to market the product. We got our permission to market, but the federal grants didn't pay for marketing, so the product ultimately fizzled.

    • by tomhath ( 637240 )
      I don't want Congress to decide how R&D money is spent.
  • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Friday November 06, 2015 @04:42PM (#50879671) Journal
    I talked to a doctor about new antibiotics. The problem is you won't make your money back from them. A company has to go through all the trials to prove that the new antibiotic is safe, and than enough people need to buy them to make it worth it. In the case of antibiotics, there are so many already on the market that doctors won't use the new antibiotic, they'll just use existing ones.

    Note this only applies to antibiotics......if there were a drug curing malaria or AIDS, it would be a different story.
    • Yup, unless there is a massive outbreak of resistant bacteria that only the new antibiotic will treat.. it will never get used. After 17 years you will lose exclusivity to make the drug. Sounds like a huge risk.

    • There's another problem, which you could call 'Life finds a way'.

      Penicillin was discovered in 1943 but it was only 3 years before the first resistance was observed. The same thing has happened to nearly every antibiotic developed since then [nature.com], with resistance usually appearing within a few years - a constant game of whack-a-mole.

      It takes 10 years and a billion dollars to bring a new drug to market, there is little profit incentive to develop a product which has a potentially short and unquantifiable lifetime.

  • When patents fail to encourage innovation they need to be changed. Overly long IP rights terms on just about everything is harming American innovation in just about every way possible.
  • by laughingskeptic ( 1004414 ) on Friday November 06, 2015 @05:07PM (#50879907)
    The article complains that "Despite their best attempts, they were unable to collect enough species (Diazona angulata) to obtain sufficient amounts of the precious chemical.". However this article omits a significant detail: a biologically active analog of diazonamide A was synthesized in 2003 AND he is listed as one of the authors. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pu... [nih.gov].
  • Until we put a stop to the agricultural industries' reckless use of antibotics, we should NOT be bringing new antibotics to market.

    We need to learn to stop using non-renewable medical assets to create more beef before we license them for sale.

    Otherwise, we will just be putting off the coming resistant-strain disaster by months, rather than decades.

  • by trout007 ( 975317 ) on Friday November 06, 2015 @06:01PM (#50880357)

    The burden in drug companies is too high. Biology is too complex. If peanuts were a drug they wouldn't get approved because too many people have bad reactions, but they are perfectly safe for others.

    All a drug company should need to do is disclose what the drug contains and be liable for fraud if it deviates from this.

    • I just can't imagine what could go wrong here....

    • Awesome shift of burden. So now every person would need to test himself against every known and unknown compound in the universe to see if he can accept it in his body? Yeah, that's going to work.
  • If the US constitution requires the federal government to be responsible for national defense, why wouldn't some of our defense money be spent on antibiotics and vaccines? If the free market is dropping the ball, it needs to get picked up in some way.
  • by iamr00t ( 453048 ) on Friday November 06, 2015 @08:48PM (#50881125) Journal

    New radiolap is about this
    http://www.radiolab.org/story/... [radiolab.org]
    last antibiotics that got into market developed resistance in 2 years, so commercial companies don't want to deal with this

    otoh at least this podcast gives hope (similar to article) that we just have to rotate the antibiotics we have :)

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