Thursday, July 7, 2016

On the one hand; on the other

From the LA Times: A high-priced prostate cancer drug discovered at UCLA is at the center of a multibillion-dollar takeover battle that has several giant pharmaceutical firms eyeing the purchase of San Francisco biotech firm Medivation. Medivation sells the drug Xtandi for about $129,000 a year. Earlier this year, two nonprofit groups asked the federal government to allow other companies to sell the drug at lower prices. The groups argued that the federal government had a right under the law to allow lower-priced competition because UCLA scientists had used taxpayer-funded grants to discover Xtandi. Late last month, the government turned down the nonprofits’ requests, ensuring that Medivation would continue to hold its monopoly on Xtandi... Work on the drug began at UCLA in the early 2000s when Charles Sawyers, then a professor of medicine at the university as well as an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, identified why prostate cancer may fail to respond to first-generation cancer drugs. Sawyers set up a collaboration with Michael Jung, a UCLA biochemistry professor, who, with his team, designed and synthesized Xtandi. UCLA received about 44% of the proceeds, or $520 million, which is being used to support additional biotech research as well as undergraduate scholarships and graduate student fellowships.
An op ed also in the LA Times:
The drug companies are ripping us off, pill by pill, shot by shot. Instead of working to earn reasonable returns by relieving our suffering and saving lives, they now focus on profits above all. Their main targets are insurance companies. But when insurance companies take a hit, they bump up premiums to employers or the government. So we all pay — in taxes, reduced take-home pay, copayments and deductibles... 

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