Issue Date: April 14, 2014
A Perspective On Reasonable Profits
“The Year in New Drugs” was quite informative with respect to the variety of drugs the Food & Drug Administration did or did not approve in 2013 (C&EN, Jan. 27, page 10). Big pharma is frequently criticized for the high cost of many of the approved drugs. For example, Gilead Sciences’ hepatitis C drug Sovaldi is mentioned in the article. It is priced at $1,000 a day or $84,000 per year.
However, the article mentions how few drugs will reach the billion-dollar threshold. Development costs and a high frequency of failure of drugs being studied are often cited as the justification for high cost. The breakthrough therapy designation provision of the 2012 FDA Safety & Innovation Act seems a welcome path to more rapid, and perhaps less expensive, drug evaluation and development.
The public reasonably wonders whether the costs are justified. It would have been enlightening if the article included the latest data regarding the actual cost of drug development to put in perspective the balance between development costs and reasonable profits.
Jerome S. Levkovz
New York City
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