For the independent thinker.
Comment: R&D and the price of medicines
According to a recent survey, R&D costs vary between $350 million and $2.2 billion, with the higher figure including the price of drug attrition. But is it fair to include the cost of past failures in the price of a new medicine?
“Someone needs to pay”, I hear you say, but surely there is a limit to how many medicines can be accounted for in this way? Is it right that society pays for R&D’s flops or over-ambitious experiments? And to what extent has this ability to dump the cost of failures onto the price of new medicines led to inefficient processes?
The question, of course, is whether excluding this element from price calculations would lower the cost of new medicines? Or might the real variable be the length of time required to get a drug to market – typically 12 years in R&D plus other price controlling mechanisms, such as NICE.
So could an earlier launch – say after seven years of R&D – result in lower prices and, if so, by how much?
Of course, such a strategy could not be progressed without involvement of the regulators. But the benefits would be significant – greater patient access to better medicines leading to improved outcomes, coupled with a comprehensive, real-time patient monitoring system.
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Can we cut the R&D process to reduce drug prices?
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