Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The business behind the disease

Was I the only one who was surprised, when starting Humira, that you could get a payment plan to reduce the cost of co-pays to pretty much nothing for the first 6 months on the drug? It came in the form of a card, given to my rheumatologist to give to me, which I could then use with the pharmacy to get that co-pay covered by Abbott, who makes Humira. Was Abbott encouraging me through that plan to use their drug?

In the words of my favorite Alaskan Governor - "You betcha".

The business behind big-pharma and biotech is fascinating. As I noted in a recent post, we've come a long way in our genomic research, (which leads to the development of effective biologic drugs) but we still have a long way to go. It's easy to think about a set of good-willed researchers in their white coats worrying about our joints and striving for the good of science to cure us. I know many of these researchers (I'm married to someone who used to be one). I'm grateful to them.

It's also easy to forget that good science is also about good business.

Today, I found a European news article online that links to a report called: The Autoimmune Market Outlook to 2013: Competitive landscape, pipeline analysis and growth opportunities. I couldn't get access to the whole report, because it looks to cost a bundle. But here are some excerpts on the page describing the report:
-The global autoimmune market generated sales of $31.9bn in 2007, an increase of 14.4% over 2006 sales. The market is forecast to grow at a CAGR of 8.1% to reach a total value of $51.0bn in 2013.
-Immunosuppressant drugs dominate the automimnune [sic] market, with four products from this class accounting for 40.3% of total market sales. The highest selling immunosuppressant drug was J&J/Schering-Plough's Remicade, with 42.1% of total sales in this class.
Use this report to:
- Assess patient potential, treatment trends and sales patterns of major autoimmune indications over the period 2009-13, with this report's coverage of osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, crohn's disease, systemic lupus erythematosus, ulcerative colitis and multiple sclerosis markets across Japan, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK and the US.
- Discover the market dynamics of the autoimmune area and understand the impact of recent events by assessing key market trends, growth drivers and the latest issues affecting product development.
I'm glad there are market analyses being done regarding both autoimmune diseases and the drugs that treat them. And, of course, I worry whenever big money is involved, esp given our economic climate. Mostly, though, it is important for those of us who are health consumers to understand the multiple motivations behind good science. Money talks.

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