Healthcare Reform and a world without Big Pharma
I have long been a proponent of the need for change and cleaning up the bad behaviors of the pharmaceutical industry to reestablish trust and credibility. At the same time, with the challenges and constraints the industry now face one has to wonder if Big Pharma will be as attractive a place to invest or as attractive a place to work as it has been in the past. Investors willing to make huge investments that carry high risk and talented research scientists with expertise are two essential ingredients to Big Pharma success. If these go away, it is scary to think of a world without Big Pharma (imagine no Big Pharma in the past or future):
- Fewer treatments that have contributed to the health and well-being of society and in many cases, saved lives (contributing significantly to increasing life expectancy)
- Many physicians would be less well educated about drug treatment options, especially any new products, without the advertising and promotion efforts of Big Pharma
- Fewer patients would be aware of or have access to information about their diseases and treatment options
- Medical schools, professional medical societies, scientific meetings and conferences would be financially challenged with severely constrained medical education programming without Big Pharma support
- Medical journals would have far fewer well controlled clinical trials of sufficient size to reach clinical significance to publish
- Many medical journals would not exist without Pharma advertising support
- Millions more patients would not be able to afford their medicines without assistance from pharmaceutical companies
- Start-up biotech companies would find it nearly impossible to find investors who are looking at Pharma as development partners (to help fund expensive development trials) and possible acquisitions as an exit strategy for their biotech investments
- Hundreds of thousands of well paying jobs would not exist and along with those jobs would go the money that those people put back into their local communities (not to mention the corporate taxes and philanthropy).
- There would be a smaller generic drug market (no generics without proprietary products to copy)
- There would be little hope for developing and commercializing (making products readily available to patients in need) the yet to be discovered new treatments
While some may take exception to these points and might suggest there are better alternatives to Big Pharma, and others may also feel I have missed a few points, it is still hard to imagine a world without Big Pharma and I don’t believe it would be good for the healthcare market or for patients.
Unfortunately, the good the pharmaceutical industry does is often overshadowed by sensational misbehavior, the seemingly endless number of product liability cases, and the nagging reinforcement of perceived high prices every time patients get their prescriptions filled. It is time for the industry to change.
“Get the dirt and fog off the windows so the sun can shine in.”
With all the good the pharmaceutical industry has to offer, it should be an industry the market and patients embrace and appreciate, not despise.
Thanks to Dick Bergman comment for getting me thinking about this.