Director, Next System Project
Before Big Pharma Kills Us, Maybe Public Pharma Can Save Us
Dana Brown deputy director of the Next System Project writes for The American Prospect: “Before Big Pharma Kills Us, Maybe Public Pharma Can Save Us.” In this article, Brown writes about the need for public funded medical research:
The increasing threat of superbugs arises in large part because antibiotic resistance is growing while the development of new antibiotics is on the decline. Antibiotic research and development (R&D) activity by Big Pharma has been falling for decades, grinding to an almost complete halt in the 2000s before pressure from governments and public health authorities led to a slight uptick in the development of new antibiotics.
The reason is simple: markets don’t incentivize innovation in an area like antibiotics where there’s little money to be made. The very nature of antibiotics works against free market motivations. Because they are intended to be taken for short periods of time, and are often curative, antibiotics are not nearly as profitable as medications developed to treat chronic disease like diabetes or heart disease. They also tend to be priced lower than many other drugs. This all adds up to mean that antibiotic development has a very slow return on investment.