Trots do as Trots do

Nick Dearden is one of the Trot Boys over at Global Justice Now (Used to be World Development Movement until people realised how nutty it was). Here we have him on antibiotics:

First, take pharmaceuticals – the most profitable sector in the world. The so-called big pharma companies maintain their profit margins through very long monopolies on new (or newly adapted) drugs, as well as all manner of financial shenanigans. Far from requiring these decades-long patents to allow them to research new drugs, these companies actually spend far more on advertising than they do on research. They also spend more on stock buybacks to keep their share price high in the money markets.

This is to miss, entirely, why we have patents in the first place. Which is that the regulatory structure leads to it costing $1 to $2 billion to get a new drug approved. But that cost is a public good. Once it’s been done it’s easy to copy, so, how do we make it so that people can profit from spending the $2 billion so that people spend the next $2 billion.

Note that this is nothing at all about how they ought to, or it is righteous that, they make a profit. It’s about how do we get the next drug discovered for the next $2 billion?

Our answer is, and it might not even be the right one, that we give a 20 year exclusivity to the production of the approved drug. This actually works out as a decade or so, as the patent runs from the entry into the system, not the approval, that approval taking perhaps a decade.

I, and just about everyone else, am willing to consider whether this is the right solution. But it is necessary to understand the problem that we’re trying to solve.

As to advertising spend and so on – well, yes, if you’ve got only 10 years to make back your $2 billion wouldn’t you want to tell people and quickly?

Big pharma is the epitome of monopoly capitalism. It’s not going to waste its time developing new, fallback antibiotics that will only be used as a “medicine of last resort” – because by the time their use becomes widespread, the patents will have expired and the profits will be gone.

Now, that is actually a problem, yes. One that many people are working upon, up to and including direct subsidy of drug producers to create new antibiotics so as to overcome that very financing problem.

Clamping down on antibiotic prescriptions might be important, but we also need to transform the corporate model that brought us here. Big pharma and agribusiness requires heavy regulation.

Ah, no, Trot Boy has the answer, just let me play Fat Controller and she’ll be fine.

13 thoughts on “Trots do as Trots do”

  1. So how do Trots explain the total lack of drugs coming out of places with other systems?

    I don’t recall the USSR paving the way for the stupid capitalist West in this field either. And that was a culture supposedly that valued Science.

  2. So he has no idea how pharma R&D, patents etc. work.

    Brief version: IIRC average on-patent time for selling a drug is 7 years. So that’s 15 years from first patent filing (2nd patent filing under priority 12m later is what they use, and that’s where the 20 years runs from) to approval and being put on the market.

    During this 7 years they need to:

    a) recoup the cost of developing and bring to market the drug itself;
    b) recoup the R&D cost of all the other drugs that failed approval. A while back Novartis lost one at 3rd phase trials. That’s a couple of B right there down the hole.
    c) Cover their massive overheads.
    d) actually make a profit.

    The fact that they actually manage d) is amazing, frankly.

  3. @Chester Draws

    “I don’t recall the USSR paving the way for the stupid capitalist West in this field either. And that was a culture supposedly that valued Science.”

    Careful there, sir: the USSR was responsible for something that may well sort out our antibiotic resistance issue entirely- Phage therapy

    Some scientists there discovered (in a similar way to Fleming, but using sewers instead of mouldy agar plates) that certain viruses had antibiotic properties. The west broadly knocked this strand of research on the head, when penicillin was discovered.

    The USSR carried on though, and did a load of work on it in Georgia. IIRC, the end of the Soviet Union kind of knocked the wind out of it. With antibiotic resistance now on the up, it’s back on the cards

    My neighbour is researching this now (some form of chemist) and apparently it’s all looking bright. I think that the narrow specificity problem of traditional phage therapy is avoided when used in conjunction with traditional antibiotics.

  4. Bloke in North Dorset

    JS,

    Isn’t that a similar problem to the one we had in the ’60s and ’70s when all our best talent fucked off to the USA because that’s where the capitalists were who could pay for further research? Except they weren’t allowed to leave the USSR oo get capitalist funding.

    Now that capital controls have been relaxed the funding can follow the scientists.

  5. @BiND

    “Isn’t that a similar problem to the one we had in the ’60s and ’70s when all our best talent fucked off to the USA because that’s where taxes were something reasonable, and the quality of life was better?”

    FTFY

  6. @JS
    And a request for funding was met with How much do you want, rather than pursed lips and a sharp intake of breath.

  7. Bloke in North Dorset

    Js,

    Or maybe:

    “Isn’t that a similar problem to the one we had in the ’60s and ’70s when all our best talent fucked off to the USA because that’s where taxes on the successful were something reasonable, and the quality of life was better?”

    But perhaps on led to the other, low taxes meant more funding for scientists?

  8. The industry we don’t need is mouthy Trot Boy Trash full of bullshit schemes to fuck things up worse than milk-and-water socialism already has.

    I have my own scheme to help with that. Its called a Purge.

    And increasingly we need to blackball a large segment of the Millennial Fail-fucks to ensure their Trot-Blu-sky turdery doesn’t become the Establishment in years to come.

    That is legally preventing leftist scum from joining law/politics/media/”journalism”-“puke”/public sector etc etc to ensure their malign shite dies with them.

  9. “…these companies actually spend far more on advertising than they do on research.”

    Is there any evidence for this assertion or is it typical lefty bollocks pulled out of someone’s arse?

  10. Is there any evidence for this assertion or is it typical lefty bollocks pulled out of someone’s arse?

    No there isn’t because it isn’t true. Companies declare R&D spend in their accounts because it usually gains tax benefits. Advertising expenditure in the organisation gets included with loads of other costs in SG&A (Sales, General and Administration). Only if you compare the total SG&A to R&D does it appear that R&D is a lower proportion.

  11. abacab;

    Another thing that doesn’t seem to get picked up much is that each compound is essentially required to have a completely segregated, clean, production process. They’re pretty much single shot things, and that costs money to build, operate and monitor properly, given the reporting requirements.

    Yeah, d) is pretty amazing really.

  12. If he needed them to save his life Nick the Trot would be all over those Yankee Capitalist Neo-Liberal drugs before you could say “socialist hypocrite”.

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