Drug resistant bacteria are not profitable for antibiotic makers.

A very serious problem today and sounds like worse tomorrow.

For those not accessing NYT, here is the crux of the problem.

“The problem is straightforward: The companies that have invested billions to develop the drugs have not found a way to make money selling them. Most antibiotics are prescribed for just days or weeks — unlike medicines for chronic conditions like diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis that have been blockbusters — and many hospitals have been unwilling to pay high prices for the new therapies. Political gridlock in Congress has thwarted legislative efforts to address the problem.”

Investors determine the best drugs for great ROI. Short term, but deadly infections are not moneymakers.

Oh well. Don’t cut yourself.

11 thoughts on “Drug resistant bacteria are not profitable for antibiotic makers.

  1. RE: “Investors determine the best drugs for great ROI. Short term, but deadly infections are not moneymakers.”

    There’s always a time lag between leading edge science and its practical application. Similarly, there is always a time lag between the introduction of a new product type and its optimization through continual process improvement (think cell phones or automobiles).

    These being facts of life, it strikes me as irrational to suggest that investors or markets are somehow faulty in the case of delivering new antibiotics to patients who need them. That’s sort of like complaining that investors won’t fund the dvelopment of timeshares on the Moon, because that would be unprofitable at present.

    The NYT piece might have emphasized more strongly that entrepreneurs did in fact produce effective solutions to a serious medical problem. The solutions themselves are not lost, just as timeshares on the Moon remain possible.

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  2. “… it strikes me as irrational to suggest that investors or markets are somehow faulty in the case of delivering new antibiotics to patients who need them.”

    Faulty is not really the correct word. The market has known that antibiotics have been hugely and recklessly overused for decades, particularly by Big Agra. Plenty of time to come up with new solutions. Yet, the money is not nearly as lucrative for limited use, lifesaving drugs as it is for common and chronic treatments.

    Many startups have failed and the big companies see more profit in arthritis and cancer than MRSA. left to its own, that profitability won’t change. And since it is very hard to invent new antibiotics, the time lag doesn’t allow for ROI to meet Wall Street and Venture Capital expectations.

    Which is why, like so much of basic research, government monies are suggested. Space is now a profitable investment. But government money did all the heavy and non-profitable lifting with NASA.

    The urgency for effective antibiotics is increasing. Congress is deadlocked for now, but will pay more attention as voters die off, particularly in poorer, rural communities.

    IMHO

    Liked by 1 person

    1. RE: “Faulty is not really the correct word.”

      Then what is the right word?

      It makes no sense at all to argue that fully and properly functioning markets are the root cause of the problem you want to solve. It makes even less sense to suggest that the problem would persist despite the operation of fully and properly functioning markets. I’m at a loss to understand what you’re trying to say.

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      1. The market is functioning as expected. If we want antibiotics we have to provide the incentives the market doesn’t make.

        That’s all. Hope that clears it up.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. RE: “If we want antibiotics we have to provide the incentives the market doesn’t make.”

        Same with time shares on the Moon.

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  3. It’s another example of how the FDA kills.

    It takes a billion dollars and 10 years to get a drug to market. and about 5 years for bacteria to become resistant.

    Add to that price controls on drugs through Medicaid and Medicare and cutting edge antibiotics are not a viable product.

    That is not a market failure, it is a government failure.

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    1. There may be some room for improvement. We can start with the Big Pharma BS about 10 years and a billion.

      If in fact it took 10 years, then ongoing research and overlapping introductions would give us new drugs every year. In addition, the drug companies are not factoring all the free (to them) research funded by taxpayers. And they also factor in opportunity costs of what they could have made in real estate or stocks or whatever.
      They are a drug company for gosh sakes. They are supposed to invest in, drum roll please, drugs.

      The facts are these:

      Viagra makes money because it is a lifetime drug. Antibiotics are not. Period.

      Big Agra packs antibiotics into every animal because it is cheap.

      Big Pharma has a steady market for the older antibiotics with Big Agra.

      Finally, drug prices are not unlimited. Since insurance of one form or another is going to cover $10,000 regimens, then either deals are made or people die in pandemics.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. RE: “That is not a market failure, it is a government failure.”

      Even ignoring the government failure, there is no market failure in this story. It may be true that some people die because better antibiotics are not available under current conditions, but it is a fallacy to assume that because one good you happen to be interested in doesn’t get produced, market factors are responsible, or even merely complicit. Markets produce a plethora of goods, some of them (like potable water) vastly more effective at saving lives than the one we are focussing on here.

      You have to ask, “Compared to what?” when evaluating benefits.

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  4. “It may be true that some people die because better antibiotics are not available under current conditions, but it is a fallacy to assume that because one good you happen to be interested in doesn’t get produced, market factors are responsible, or even merely complicit.”

    If the market produces all kinds of stuff but the ones we need, then that is the market. Not a failure, but just how it operates. As I said, the market is functioning fine. It is just not giving us what we need.

    In WW2, the market did not give us tanks. The government had to provide incentives for the giants of industry to make them. Incentives being to buy them, of course. If effective antibiotics are not available, it would be pretty devastating. Like an attack on our nation. Remember, life before antibiotics was very fragile. Millions died from just minor injuries.

    I think waiting for the market on its own would be silly. And dangerous.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. RE: “As I said, the market is functioning fine. It is just not giving us what we need.”

      Says who? Why do antibiotics deserve the special attention you insist we give them?

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      1. Let’s just say you should make sure you don’t get a resistant infection.

        Antibiotics are what makes our lives what they are.

        But don’t depend upon me to convince anyone.

        Liked by 1 person

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