Andre Picard, writing in the Globe this am, has deconstructed the often-repeated figures about the many millions or even billions needed to bring medications to market. The original estimates, derived entirely from unchecked figures provided by the drug companies themselves, used huge percentages to estimate income lost because the money that went into R&D was not otherwise invested. When was the last time you got a steady 11% over the course of decades? The usual figure is 3-5%. All in all, it sounds like another big lie.
Mr. Picard also makes the point that most drugs developed aren’t brand new, but rather “me too” drugs–think the cholesterol lowering drugs for example, or the multiple formulations of methylphenidate(Ritalin and its brothers). These cost less to develop because the basic research has all ready been done. Even older drugs, like AVONEX for MS, developed in 1999, are still enormously expensive. The cost of this drug has in fact risen. Surely the R&D costs have been paid off by now?
It seems to be a theme with the powers that be. Tell a lie often enough and even if it’s outrageous, people will start to believe it.