Timmy elsewhereMay 12, 2014 Tim WorstallTimmy Elsewhere21 CommentsAt the ASI. Aren’t we lucky to have Mariana Mazzucato around to tell us that government really owns everything? previousThis is the no platform lot is it?nextSubs! Subs! 21 thoughts on “Timmy elsewhere” So Much for Subtlety May 12, 2014 at 8:56 am That is, the results (ie, we know that heroin cures pain, Hurrah!) are non-rivalrous and non-excludable. This means that they are also extremely difficult to make any money out of. Are you sure of this? Who ends up with the patents from government-funded drug research? Certainly we know who ends up with the patents of some government-funded research – BAe. We paid for it, but they make money from it – and then charge us for the privilege. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we pay for drug research and then the drug companies get to keep the rights. DBC Reed May 12, 2014 at 9:15 am SMfS All of your points are answered by Ms Mazzucato in the original Observer article: the companies spend more on buying back their own shares than on the research which is mainly done by the public sector and small biotech labs: the companies get to keep the rights as you say. Pfizer dumped their researchers in Sandwich even though they came up with Viagra. The Stigler May 12, 2014 at 9:28 am I worked on a drug trial and one day it just got shut down because someone else got ill on another related trial. Probably not ill because of the drug. But it had to be stopped. And they didn’t get a penny back for when it restarted. And the worst organisation that the trial company I worked for dealt with? The NHS. Created all sorts of barriers to getting people onto a trial, barriers that no-one else set (e.g. subjects had to be referred by GPs). The trial got shitcanned early on because it just wasn’t going to recruit enough subjects. Interested May 12, 2014 at 9:55 am @SMFS ‘I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we pay for drug research and then the drug companies get to keep the rights.’ But we get the drugs. Bloke in Germany May 12, 2014 at 10:00 am I could say something about big pharma here but I really don’t want people quoting me. So Much for Subtlety May 12, 2014 at 10:10 am Interested – “But we get the drugs.” Which is great. But we ought to get to keep the patents too. We should not be in the business of corporate welfare. If we pay for something, we should own it. To licence as we please. DBC Reed May 12, 2014 at 10:14 am TS I should hope that a GP would be involved when people want to to go on drug trials. They might have things seriously wrong with them.Do you object when a chemist checks whether your latest prescription interacts badly with something you’re already taking? This laissez-faire world where everything comes right in “the natural course of things”(Adam Smith not Wordsworth) is Romantic era crap. The Stigler May 12, 2014 at 10:44 am DBC, A doctor is involved in drug trials – you have to go to the doctor who screens the subject, supplies the drugs, monitors you and so forth. The FDA or the MHRA would turn up at your door if you started handing out drugs to people (and despite being in the small state mindset, that’s one area where the state *should* be involved). But you don’t need a doctor to recruit someone to a trial, to find people who have a medical condition. You can just advertise. Eddy May 12, 2014 at 11:15 am A number of comments from people who didn’t read Tim’s article. Its the development that costs the big bucks. I wonder if penicillin would be licensed for use if it was developed today. Interested May 12, 2014 at 11:29 am @SMFS ‘Which is great. But we ought to get to keep the patents too.’ Yeah, I just don’t known how many drugs companies would carry on in business if that happened. Lots of people’s pensions tied up in them too. It’s not a straight-forward thing. Personally, not sure I want the state to benefit – I think the more they ‘get something back for the taxpayer’ the more it encourages them. Interested May 12, 2014 at 11:31 am @DBC you seriously are thick, aren’t you? Do you think doctors are not involved in clinical trials? Do you assume people just rock up, hold out their hands and are given the pills? It’s just another waste of a GP’s time, so as the politicians and bureaucrats you love so much can put out press releases telling us how much they have our best interests at heart, is all it is. Interested May 12, 2014 at 11:31 am @TS – sorry you already made my last point! The Stigler May 12, 2014 at 12:59 pm Interested, It’s not so much that it’s a waste of their time. The drug companies wouldn’t care about that. It’s that the GPs just don’t get enough people through for the trial. You’re relying on firstly, someone seeing their GP who has a particular condition and secondly that the GP knows about the trial and remembers to mention it. But drug trials have a timescale for recruiting subjects. You have to get a number of people within a certain period. If you don’t hit that, the trial doesn’t go ahead. You can maybe extend the period, but that means careful management in conjunction with the regulators, and they don’t like it (because originally recruited subjects may drift away or change their mind). Ironman May 12, 2014 at 1:39 pm I would reccomend Tim Worstall’s ASI article, because it is quite clear that some at least have not bothered to read it. And when you do read it, look up ‘public good’, it explains very neatly why government doesn’t get into the patent game. Bloke in Germany May 12, 2014 at 2:33 pm Can someone name a drug from the last 30 years that was government-developed and the patent just handed over to a big pharma? Rather than sold for oodles of money? We are hearing so much about so many of them that there must be examples just lying around in the street. Yes, I know there is a paper from 2011 in NEJM but I am not convinced by the list. I or colleagues wrote at least some of the Phase I-III reports for several of the listed products and I don’t remember any university of wherever funding it. Others on the list are so old that they are long off-patent. Bloke in Germany May 12, 2014 at 2:37 pm Of course doctors are involved in trials, they have to be. There are not usually strict recruitment targets set. Slow recruitment doesn’t affect earlier recruits, they don’t wait around to start treatment until everyone is on board. You can’t do it that way. The doctors (clinics, hospitals, whatever) get paid for their efforts, this isn’t a free service the NHS provides to drug companies, they bill for it! Of course trials for rare things cannot be run economically through GPs – you use specialists. Still, the patient’s GP will be informed if the patient enters a trial. That’s just a letter, sort of stuff that goes back and forth between GPs and specialist all the time. Interested May 12, 2014 at 4:52 pm @TS ‘It’s not so much that it’s a waste of their time. The drug companies wouldn’t care about that.’ Yes, I’m not saying they would, I was addressing DBC Reed’s suggestion that it’s a good thing if they are involved and pointing out that it’s not necessary, and actually in most cases is just a waste of a GP’s time and an additional paperwork burden. PaulB May 12, 2014 at 11:17 pm BiG: no one in their right mind thinks that patents are just handed over to Big Pharma. But it does seem to be increasingly the case that drugs are discovered by public sector institutes before being licensed to drug companies for development. I’m not convinced by Tim’s argument that this is because there’s no money in making the discoveries, I suspect it’s because many researchers feel more comfortable not working directly for Big P. Sometimes there can be distressing consequences: Abiraterone, discovered by researchers at ICR, was initially priced by J&J beyond the NICE cost guidelines. Bloke in Germany May 13, 2014 at 12:40 am ICR is a public sector institute? PaulB May 13, 2014 at 2:24 am Yes, it’s part of the University of London So Much for Subtlety May 14, 2014 at 12:53 am PaulB – “I’m not convinced by Tim’s argument that this is because there’s no money in making the discoveries, I suspect it’s because many researchers feel more comfortable not working directly for Big P.” I thought it was well established that good researchers do not work for large companies? Virtually no original research is done in commercial businesses – except Bell Labs which does kind of prove the point. At least none worth mentioning. Which is a bit of a worry if you think how close universities are coming to large, incredibly badly run, corporations. Leave a Reply Cancel replyYour email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *Comment Name * Email * Website Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.