Drug prices – Cost of research does not explain high prices – News

Drug prices – Cost of research does not explain high prices – News
Drug prices – Cost of research does not explain high prices – News

Developing new drugs requires a lot of investment with no guaranteed return. This is the argument of pharmaceutical companies to justify the high price they charge. It’s rarely the truth.

3.5 million dollars – or approximately 3.2 million euros. It’s not the price of a luxury villa but the price of a treatment for hemophilia B, Hemgenix, which was recently authorized in the United States. Too expensive ? For manufacturers, it is the just reward for a risky investment in research and development. But a recent analysis published in the British Medical Journal shows that this argument is flawed.

For many years, the costs required for new drugs have been decorrelated from the sums invested to develop them. Worse: more and more often, it is thanks to public funds that these products are developed. This is the case, for example, of vaccines against Covid-19, for which the States have been largely called upon, or even of Zolgensma, developed thanks to Genethon. The prices demanded by their manufacturers are however high: a single dose of Zolgensma represents 2 million euros.

Risk taking assumed by the public sector

The phenomenon is not limited to new molecules. Older treatments are also subject to disproportionate requirements, without any major innovation explaining it. Insulin, whose patent was sold at a symbolic price, is at the heart of a controversy on this subject.

At present, risk taking is borne by the public sector, while the private sector reaps the profits and distributes them to shareholders. Patients don’t get much out of it. Many of the recently approved drugs provide only minor – if any – progress. Thus, in 2021, the Belgian independent research institute KCE highlighted the uncertain impact of new cancer treatments on the quality of life of patients and their overall survival. Their impact on public finances, on the other hand, leaves no doubt.

The article is in French

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