Them making the cure for something major would be like an energy company inventing a zero point energy generator that could power your house, car, and everything in it while at the same time being small enough and cheap enough to have in everything. Sure they would make massive short term profits, but once the genie was out of the bottle, most of their long term profit in that venture would be gone after the hit market saturation.
It's good that you're thinking critically. Now you just need to go deeper.
It would have MASSIVE short term gains, no doubt about that and yes, the current system spreads the money around more than a central cure. But you aren't thinking about this from a long term business perspective, and the pharmaceutical industry is one of the few I have seen that still thinks long term. Even if they charged you 10 times the price of a normal treatment, that is still a net loss in their eyes compared to keeping you on their product for 20 years for treatments.
If they were to release this, they would probably be wanting to ask over $100,000 for it to make up for all the lost repeat business.
I know if I didn't care about my customers a single bit and I was attempting to get as much out of them as I could, I would make sure I was the first to come out with such a cure but I would also make sure that such a cure never came out unless I had absolutely no choice as it would cut into my profits. If I can make sure my competitors also refuse to come out with such a cure, we effectively have something we can milk for decades. Once that cure comes out, they have a 10 year time clock with massive PR to milk as much as possible before I have effectively lost a massive cash crop due to generics and the loss of repeat customers.
A cure would be a highly stable investment. To say that having it would not be profitable compared to the current system is ultimately ignorant of the entire system. Even ignoring a 10 year undisputed monopoly in the area, which you seem to brush off as non consequential when things such as Lipitor have clearly showed us otherwise, the long term benefits of being the ultimate benefactors of medicine by finding the magical bullet of cancer would be enormous. Then there's the fact where a company's R&D goes off of its current profits. A 10 year massive profit bolus would heavily stimulate other projects, essentially investing the money they earn to turn short tern gains into long term ones. The reason why research is not done in this direction is because of its impossibility, not because of the profit margin.
I am trying not to ignore anything. My neighbor had chemotherapy and from what I could tell, I didn't see anyone losing money on that thing but her before she died (they got too aggressive on the cancer and she ended up dying within 3 months of them finding out, looked and felt completely healthy till 1 day she had problems and went to the doctor....) But not an expert on that stuff so not sure if it gets cheaper over time or something for the repeats.
I wasn't saying it wouldn't be profitable, I am saying it would be LESS profitable over the long run. Which is one of the main things that would hold them up on it. I may be wrong and to be honest, I hope I am, but from a long term business perspective, it seems like they would see at is shooting themselves in the foot for a short term burst. Great to save that bullet for if you are doing really bad financially or with public relations and need that burst but is a long term loss any other way.
Yet people continue dying of cancer either way, this shouldn't be the end of the world.
Either they are allowed to raise the price, or no cancer medication for anyone. I'm assuming some annoying regulation is in place preventing them from selling it at a profitable price?
I honestly say that anything made with taxpayer funding and any drug (name brand or generic) that is abandoned, the government has the right to make and sell them at little to no profit. Let them compete against it based on its merits, not because it is less profitable than some other drug.
You can't allow them to charge what they want, they have laws that prevent them from charging over a certain amount or else stuff like this where they know it is critically needed, they would end up charging several hundred (if not thousand) dollars a pill with some obscene profit margin.
The stuff they are dumping is over 50 years old, it has worked for decades and they have not made anything better than it in all that time, the only reason they are dumping it is they no longer have the patent and with the current laws and availability of companies to make generics, the profit margins aren't as high as alternative products they could make and sell for other stuff.
People in this thread don't know anything about modern healthcare, it's kind of hilarious
---------- Post added 2012-11-20 at 11:35 AM ----------
We seemed to have lost sight of that at some point. Free market worshipers seem to be calling for growth for the sake of growth and only growth.
And how does any of this come as a surprise? They are profit-seeking businesses, not charities. Maybe a joint-operated/built/paid EU medical factory could work; everyone gets their share the needed drugs; put a bit of pressure on drug corporations but not drive them out of business.
Also it could be a case of Drug A is £x, and they developed a new Drug B that is £1.5*x, its slightly more effective with less side effects. People will buy Drug A because it does what is needed and is cheaper. Sales of Drug B are low, and not making a return for the expense of producing it, they decide to pull Drug A so people buy Drug B so they aren't loosing money and have money to develop a future drug.
Oh my goodness...this thread has just a little bit of everything in it.
I see Laize is still banging away on his "free markets make the world go 'round" drum. (But who cares if millions die in the process).
Also, Laize-- I think what everyone was arguing with you about was your mixing up the concept of "losing money" with the concept of "making lower profits". They are two very different and distinct things.
I also see we have the tin foil hat brigade of the "there is a cure for cancer and the drug companies are keeping it from us". I could sit here and explain to you the 394892348 ways that would be impossible, however the tin foil hat brigade has never let facts and reason shake them from their beliefs!
But...back to the original topic -- there has always been a category of drugs that are not desirable to make...usually due to low demand or low profit. Generally the government has to create incentives them to keep them available.
Wonder when the world will realize that there will never be a cure for a cancer as long as it is profitable. Every cancer charity can kiss my arse. It is just a simple reality of how humans work.
What has been made by QQ can be unmade by QQ!!!
There is a competitive landscape. Companies are always looking for the next big thing to take market share from the competitors. A cure for cancer would be a windfall -- you would dominate the market. You would be able to sell your other products in a portfolio including the cancer cure and everyone would buy from you because they want the drug. The insane amount of profit would allow you to invest in all sorts of new drugs to have a robust pipeline for the future to replace any drugs that you make obsolete.
You are also assuming the company that markets cancer treatments will come up with the cure. If a company without a cancer portfolio comes up with a cure they have absolutely no reason to move forward.