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  1. #1

    Experts fear shortage of unprofitable cancer drug.

    Apparently pharmaceutical manufacturers are slowing, even halting, production of fluorouracil; one of the most commonly prescribed drugs for the treatment of colorectal and breast cancer as well as being used in treatment of other cancers.

    http://www.thelocal.de/society/20121118-46239.html

    It seems that it's unprofitable to manufacture and sell the drug. I'm wondering why pharma companies don't simply raise the prices but I have a feeling it has something to do with health care systems in Europe. No clue why they won't simply sell in the US.

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Laize View Post
    Apparently pharmaceutical manufacturers are slowing, even halting, production of fluorouracil; one of the most commonly prescribed drugs for the treatment of colorectal and breast cancer as well as being used in treatment of other cancers.

    http://www.thelocal.de/society/20121118-46239.html

    It seems that it's unprofitable to manufacture and sell the drug. I'm wondering why pharma companies don't simply raise the prices but I have a feeling it has something to do with health care systems in Europe. No clue why they won't simply sell in the US.
    The nature of European healthcare systems, maybe. However, you would have thought that a set price would have been set that the companies can justify manufacture and sale of the drug and the governments/spending bodies of the healthcare systems would buy them.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Palmatum View Post
    The nature of European healthcare systems, maybe. However, you would have thought that a set price would have been set that the companies can justify manufacture and sale of the drug and the governments/spending bodies of the healthcare systems would buy them.
    I'm fairly certain that european health care systems set price controls to control spending costs. To that end it seems plausible that they've ordered companies to only sell at a certain price which is no longer profitable.

    I can see no other reason for demand outstripping supply and companies' solution to be to simply halt production

  4. #4
    I think jumps to pointing fingers at the healthcare system are premature. It sounds like they're opting to only make a more expensive drug because moving production made it less profitable to produce 5-FU
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  5. #5
    Yeah of course you'd feel that it's the European socialist system's fault. Who wouldn't?

    I mean, it's not like the exact same drug was placed on the United States Food and Drugs Administration's Drug Shortages List in August last year. And the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists certainly don't have it listed under it's Current Drug Shortages Bulletin either. Hurray for the American free market?

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by semaphore View Post
    Yeah of course you'd feel that it's the European socialist system's fault. Who wouldn't?

    I mean, it's not like the exact same drug was placed on the United States Food and Drugs Administration's Drug Shortages List in August last year. And the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists certainly don't have it listed under it's Current Drug Shortages Bulletin either. Hurray for the American free market?
    Actually I didn't blame the socialist system. I'm simply fairly sure they enact price controls on drugs and services.

    It does confuse me as to why there's a shortage in the US or why they don't simply negotiate with the national health systems over there.

    Things that are as in demand as this drug don't simply stop getting made unless the company doesn't have price control.

  7. #7
    That's why I suspect its not an outside force that's causing them to stop production so much as they simply find a competing drug more profitable because they can charge higher prices for it. Cancer doesn't go away if they stop producing the cheaper drug so people will still buy the more expensive variants.
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    Everyone is pro-US. They just don't know it yet.
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    Internet lives in the sky, don't need no cables for that.
    A nice list of logical fallacies. In picture form!

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Wells View Post
    That's why I suspect its not an outside force that's causing them to stop production so much as they simply find a competing drug more profitable because they can charge higher prices for it. Cancer doesn't go away if they stop producing the cheaper drug so people will still buy the more expensive variants.
    It's not that simple. If this drug works better than the new drugs (Which it may or may not, I'm not a pharmacologist) then the pharm companies could charge whatever the hell they thought was profitable enough. This drug obviously requires no R&D since it's been around since the late 50s. You don't give up a sure thing.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Laize View Post
    Actually I didn't blame the socialist system. I'm simply fairly sure they enact price controls on drugs and services.

    It does confuse me as to why there's a shortage in the US or why they don't simply negotiate with the national health systems over there.
    Because clearly that's not the reason why there's a global shortage.

    Things that are as in demand as this drug don't simply stop getting made unless the company doesn't have price control.
    Capacities are not unlimited. Things that are in demand do simply stop getting made if the company can use the same capacity for something much more profitable. It's called the free market.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by semaphore View Post
    Because clearly that's not the reason why there's a global shortage.


    Capacities are not unlimited. Things that are in demand do simply stop getting made if the company can use the same capacity for something much more profitable. It's called the free market.
    Yeah, a free market dictates that the remaining companies that DO produce the cancer drug can charge whatever makes it profitable. Not just profitable but as profitable as it needs to be.

    Technetium-99m experienced a shortage when 2 reactors closed down and a few more went down for extended maintenance.

    New reactors sprung up to meet the demand.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Laize View Post
    It's not that simple. If this drug works better than the new drugs (Which it may or may not, I'm not a pharmacologist) then the pharm companies could charge whatever the hell they thought was profitable enough. This drug obviously requires no R&D since it's been around since the late 50s. You don't give up a sure thing.
    It's not exactly a sure thing, though. How many people do you think knew that this drug existed before this? How many even now? When people go to get medical treatment, they usually go for the cheapest option unless there are vast differences between them. They can't exactly raise the price to be competitive with other drugs that they have priced higher if those drugs are significantly cheaper to manufacture because they'd still lose money every time somebody chose this drug versus the others. That's not even considering the money they save by eliminating a line of production altogether.

    Quote Originally Posted by Laize View Post
    Yeah, a free market dictates that the remaining companies that DO produce the cancer drug can charge whatever makes it profitable. Not just profitable but as profitable as it needs to be.
    What incentive do you have to try to sell something at a higher price than you previously did if you can just stop selling it altogether and make the same profits?
    Last edited by Bergtau; 2012-11-19 at 07:27 AM.

    Bergtau's Law: As an online discussion grows longer, the probability that somebody will mention Godwin's Law approaches 1.
    Hitler wasn't all bad, I mean, he DID kill Hitler.
    An accident is something that you did not mean to do at all. A mistake is something that you regret doing.

  12. #12
    We're not talking about crops or clothes here though. The ability to produce advanced medicines here are severely limited by both production facilities and patents. Hopes that another company will crop up and start producing the drug are optimistic.
    Quote Originally Posted by Nixx View Post
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fyre View Post
    Internet lives in the sky, don't need no cables for that.
    A nice list of logical fallacies. In picture form!

  13. #13
    It's sad that people would rather make a huge profit than help people who are dieing. That tells you a lot about people right there.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Wells View Post
    We're not talking about crops or clothes here though. The ability to produce advanced medicines here are severely limited by both production facilities and patents. Hopes that another company will crop up and start producing the drug are optimistic.
    That's possible.

    I think our patent system needs to be reworked from the ground up, but that's neither here nor there.

    I suppose this drug's fate depends on whether replacement drugs are more effective.

    ---------- Post added 2012-11-19 at 07:28 AM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by nyc81991 View Post
    It's sad that people would rather make a huge profit than help people who are dieing. That tells you a lot about people right there.
    There's nothing wrong with profit. Businesses aren't charities.

  15. #15
    There's nothing wrong with profit. Businesses aren't charities.
    In the context of more profits vs. helping the sick, yes there is.

    Bergtau's Law: As an online discussion grows longer, the probability that somebody will mention Godwin's Law approaches 1.
    Hitler wasn't all bad, I mean, he DID kill Hitler.
    An accident is something that you did not mean to do at all. A mistake is something that you regret doing.

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by nyc81991 View Post
    It's sad that people would rather make a huge profit than help people who are dieing. That tells you a lot about people right there.
    Death is a fact of life, getting rich is not.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Laize View Post
    That's possible.

    I think our patent system needs to be reworked from the ground up, but that's neither here nor there.

    I suppose this drug's fate depends on whether replacement drugs are more effective.
    Its a sticky issue. There's no doubt that removing patents would reduce the motivation to do research. Companies shouldn't get to maintain the patents for drugs they don't produce or intend to produce though.

    I suspect national health care systems will simply offer more money for the drug though.
    Quote Originally Posted by Nixx View Post
    Everyone is pro-US. They just don't know it yet.
    Quote Originally Posted by Fyre View Post
    Internet lives in the sky, don't need no cables for that.
    A nice list of logical fallacies. In picture form!

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Bergtau View Post
    In the context of more profits vs. helping the sick, yes there is.
    Are you saying businesses should lose money on the production of this drug?

    ---------- Post added 2012-11-19 at 07:32 AM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Wells View Post
    Its a sticky issue. There's no doubt that removing patents would reduce the motivation to do research. Companies shouldn't get to maintain the patents for drugs they don't produce or intend to produce though.

    I suspect national health care systems will simply offer more money for the drug though.
    I think our 10-year patent system for drugs is pretty good.

    For other stuff, though? Shit needs rebuilding.

    That's why that discussion is neither here nor there.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Laize View Post
    Are you saying businesses should lose money on the production of this drug?
    From the article:
    But many of Germany's top providers have stopped making the drug because it is not as profitable as other, more expensive ones.
    They're still making money. They'd just make more money if they made something else.
    Quote Originally Posted by Nixx View Post
    Everyone is pro-US. They just don't know it yet.
    Quote Originally Posted by Fyre View Post
    Internet lives in the sky, don't need no cables for that.
    A nice list of logical fallacies. In picture form!

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by medievalman1 View Post
    Death is a fact of life, getting rich is not.
    Getting rich at the expense of people who are suffering is a very sad thing. Money is a fake man made game, Life is what is real.

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