Play this little game for me. Ask anyone—a doctor, a friend, a dude on the street—"How many new drugs were approved by the FDA this year?“
In my unofficial study, most people say hundreds but you get a few who say thousands. While this is absolutely perfect for what the drug companies want you to think about them, it’s far from the truth.
Number of new drugs in 2008 = 21
Number of new drugs in 2007 = 18
Number of new drugs in 2006 = 15
Number of game-changer drugs in the past 20 years? I’d say none.
It’s a dying industry. The age of shot-in-the-dark "this substance decreases your risk of dying by 5% and works the same for everyone” kind of new molecular entities is a stupid business model. It’s about time we give up on Big Pharma, ask them to stop selling us hocus pocus, billion dollar ad campaigns, and move on to doing more research on how generics interact with genomics. But of course, that’ll never happen. Big Pharma hates to splinter their markets. What if Big Pharma found that one of their blockbusters didn’t work at all for half the population with a certain genetic makeup, but worked twice as well in a population with a different genetic makeup? They just severed half their market.
Shareholders don’t like splintered markets.
So I guess we’ll have to continue to watch them flounder.
And think to ourselves, what part did the pharmaceutical industry play in prolonging the lives of the average person 6 years since 1900 (that stat applies to people who survived childhood)? Of course they gave us antibiotics but most are cheap generics right now. And there’s no money in generics, except for India and China’s highly regulated, reputably safe factories…