Yes, this is largely true

Technological advances will trigger a 21st century medical revolution, that could see a series of long-awaited breakthroughs in the fight to develop a cure for some the world’s most devastating diseases including cancer and diabetes, a clutch of Silicon Valley and pharmaceutical bosses has predicted.

“Technology has the ability to cure cancer, unlock the mysteries of obesity, and reduce cardiovascular deaths,” Albert Bourla, Chief Operating Officer of Pfizer said.

Medicine, as in the ability to cure a specific disease or condition, is going to become remarkably cheap. For, essentially, we’re going to mechanise it. As with aspirin replacing the comely maiden bathing the fevered brow we’re going to automate.

Social care however is likely to become very much more expensive at the same time. As the number of people who don’t die of those things we cure rises. Going to be interesting seeing how the budgets work out there.

16 comments on “Yes, this is largely true

  1. What makes you think social care won’t be mechanized too? Some stuff, where human contact is essential, not, but other stuff like getting people out of bed and to the toilet..I think the Japanese are at the front of it.

  2. What a pathetic sight we’ll be, banged up in the communal sitting room of our Stalinist local authority nursing home, exchanging gripes about the world going to hell in a handcart. Sound of body but totally gaga.

  3. The pharmaceutical industry has more or less run out of new drugs. They are tinkering on the edges. Slightly tweaking old drugs but when was the last time you heard of a really new and successful drug?

    I put it down to Fen-Fen. Since the manufacturer was driven out of business by a vanishingly small number of very fat people who got heart disease (who would have guessed?!) I think the drug makers have tried to keep away from anything that could get them sued.

    So I don’t think that anyone is going to use IT to make health care better. They will get sued too. The John Edwards of the future will make sure of that.

  4. “The pharmaceutical industry has more or less run out of new drugs.”

    No. There are two different revolutions going on. One is genes (CRISPR and so on) the other is CAR-T, also based on gene theory. Horribly expensive at present because patents. In 20 years…..

  5. Tim Worstall – “No. There are two different revolutions going on. One is genes (CRISPR and so on) the other is CAR-T, also based on gene theory. Horribly expensive at present because patents. In 20 years…..”

    So …. wouldn’t that be “yes, they have run out of drugs, but there are two new technologies that might make up for it”?

    It depends on what they will do with those two. One possibility is that they will detect susceptibility earlier. If we have a genetic propensity to a disease we will know before we get whatever cancer it is. Or, Gattaca-style, we will edit it out of our children. The other is that they will try to tailor a specific drug for a specific individual. I would like to see how that could be cost-effective.

    20 years time? Maybe. Perhaps just as fusion energy becomes cost-effective. I see nothing on the horizon that is going to limit the burden of bureaucracy, regulation and low life trial lawyers. If anything they will all become stronger. Which means it is unlikely to ever happen.

  6. The obvious solution is to treat aging as the master disease, so to speak, and put major efforts to its conquest.

    It won’t help the likes of us too much but ultimately it will lead to not merely immortality but the conquest of ALL physical aliments. 200 to 500 years perhaps but incremental benefits on a much shorter timescale.

  7. ‘Technology has the ability to cure cancer’

    Do it, then talk about it. As stated, it is BS.

    ‘unlock the mysteries of obesity’

    Mystery? What fvcking mystery?

    ‘and reduce cardiovascular deaths’

    K. But some other death will still occur. Pushing in a balloon.

  8. Having worked on half a dozen blockbusters including two first-in-class, I can tell Professor of Wikipedia Plagiarism SMFS is spouting his usual deep knowledge of everything about how the whole world works.

    Just on one small thing, Pharma companies get sued by injured patients all the time. All the time.

    Pharma isn’t running out of ideas, in fact it’s having trouble keeping up with the increasing number of ever-smaller targets to throw them at.

    Sure there is a “low hanging fruit” hangover, but there is also the problem that what was one disease 50 years ago is now 50 diseases – why I say smaller targets – and thus research, regulatory, and marketing costs go up while expected revenues go down. The number of times I have seen promising drug/indication studies die because it can’t pay for itself, is rather sad.

    The current regulatory model works well for widespread and homogeneous diseases you can make one pill at one dose for. It simply isn’t ready for tailored medicine (which is where the AI and number crunching has real potential).

    This is an industry everyone, both left and right, loves to virtue-signal their hate of. All I can say is go count the effective drugs you had 100 years ago (and the standard of evidence for their efficacy) and compare to now. Also compare the amount of unashamed snake oil 100 years ago to that on sale (by pharma companies) today.

    FTR I disagree that medicine is going to get cheaper.

  9. Bloke in Germany – “Having worked on half a dozen blockbusters including two first-in-class, I can tell Professor of Wikipedia Plagiarism SMFS is spouting his usual deep knowledge of everything about how the whole world works.”

    I do like your work Biggie. Really I do. The problem here is that I see nothing that is actually relevant to what I said. Well done. Yes we know you work in the field. I am pretty sure you have done nothing useful. Or you would have told us by now. But whatever.

    You can take my expertise as you like. I make no claims for it.

    “Just on one small thing, Pharma companies get sued by injured patients all the time. All the time.”

    Sure. But very rarely do they get driven out of business. You only have to look at Vioxx – presently having cost north of $4 billion because it kills patients to see the problems people have. They can come up with new drugs but do they dare sell them?

    “Pharma isn’t running out of ideas, in fact it’s having trouble keeping up with the increasing number of ever-smaller targets to throw them at.”

    Cool. You decide to distract with nonsense and you go with the Spinal Tap gambit – you’re becoming more *selective*? That is so impressive.

    “The number of times I have seen promising drug/indication studies die because it can’t pay for itself, is rather sad.”

    Which would be pretty much what I said I believe.

    “The current regulatory model works well for widespread and homogeneous diseases you can make one pill at one dose for. It simply isn’t ready for tailored medicine (which is where the AI and number crunching has real potential).”

    Which would also be pretty much what I said I believe.

    “FTR I disagree that medicine is going to get cheaper.”

    Three for three – just what I said in fact. So you don’t like me personally – that is fine, I do not much care for pro-EU ex-pats who take out German citizenship because they are so ashamed of holding a British passport – and you don’t like what I said. But you have nothing that would even begin to suggest I am wrong.

    Guess all that cutting and pasting from Wikipedia paid off.

  10. BiG;

    “The current regulatory model works well for widespread and homogeneous diseases you can make one pill at one dose for. It simply isn’t ready for tailored medicine (which is where the AI and number crunching has real potential).”

    Quite. VCs were getting really quite keen on the tailored medicine, targeted treatment thing, along with the technology and research behind/driving it.

    Twenty years ago.

  11. I think that with the widespread availability of cheap diagnosis of many diseases there will be rising pressure – at least here in the USA – for prescriptions to be issuable by machines, rather than GPs. When your iphone + small add-on kit can reliably tell that your vile child has one of the usual childhood diseases you won’t need to pay (indirectly, at the moment) $250 to go see your usual quak. Instead, the iPhone writes a prescription and sends it via secure email to your friendly local dispensary, who checks it’s kosher and has the goodies awaiting you in minutes.

    As time goes by, you’ll be able to buy better diagnostic machines (that’l hook to your in-house computing, not just an iPhone). Perhaps even scanners will get cheap enough (useful for frying burglars when set to “home defense”rather than “‘ere wot’s that lump?” mode)

    So a lot of day to day stuff will get cheaper and will drive legislation to get people out of the quotidian medical care. This will further reduce costs (after the usual lobbying by doctors’ trade unions)

    Associated with this change will be, I would imagine, a change in the legal issues of liability. Loosely, you can’t sue a company which sells drugs which are manufactured as described and ‘approved’ by a relevant authority. And you can’t sue a company selling un approved stuff because you’ll have signed something saying “I know this is experimental and not approved and has lots of putative risks”. And that’ll open up new frontiers in reviewing… (Yes I know that’s not how it works today, but change can happen)

    One can imagine automated surgery machinery, but I think that might be fairly expensive 🙂 (But also useful for carving up burglars)

  12. You actually said the pharma industry has more or less run out of new drugs. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    But good try at denying what you said on this page!!

    Vioxx was rightly pulled off the market by its owner because it does kill people. Feel free to cite Brignell’s lack of understanding of how risk profile changes when events take at-risk patients out of the population.

    That makes two killer drugs you seem to feel we should still be selling. But I guess we should defer to your expertise.

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