Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Drug Giant Pledges Cheap Medicine For World's Poor

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the shamed-into-it dept.

Patents 317

bmsleight writes in with a Guardian piece on the decision of the world's second biggest pharmaceutical company, GlaxoSmithKline, to radically shift its attitude towards providing cheap drugs to millions of people in the developing world. "[The new CEO] said that GSK will... cut its prices for all drugs in the 50 least developed countries to no more than 25% of the levels in the UK and US — and less if possible — and make drugs more affordable in middle-income countries such as Brazil and India; put any chemicals or processes over which it has intellectual property rights that are relevant to finding drugs for neglected diseases into a 'patent pool,' so they can be explored by other researchers; and reinvest 20% of any profits it makes in the least developed countries in hospitals, clinics, and staff."

cancel ×

317 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

It's called market segmentation (4, Insightful)

wisty (1335733) | more than 5 years ago | (#26871291)

It's not generous, it's just good sales. Maybe greed is good though.

Re:It's called market segmentation (4, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 5 years ago | (#26871441)

Also, since we're talking about drugs here, the phrase "first hit is free" comes readily to mind.

Another factor here is that drug companies want Latin America in particular to develop medical systems dependent on their drugs, rather than trying to replicate the Cuban model which doesn't rely on US drug companies and still manages to get pretty good results. It's sort of like what Intel and MS did to the OLPC project.

Re:It's called market segmentation (4, Insightful)

crmarvin42 (652893) | more than 5 years ago | (#26872027)

So, their bastards for charging more than people can afford for life saving medicine that now only costs cents to manufacture (having already spent the millions on R&D), but they are also bastards when they reduce the cost, because they'll get everyone hooked on their drugs.

This strikes me as a Win/Win type situation for BlackHat conspiracy folks.

Re:It's called market segmentation (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 5 years ago | (#26871599)

Greed is good, actually, when used properly. When used improperly, it's very destructive to the person who is greedy, as well as everything they touch with it.

Re:It's called market segmentation (1)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | more than 5 years ago | (#26872171)

Greed is destructive, I think you mean capitalism is good when used properly. When used improperly, it's greed. Greed leads to things like killing the goose that laid the golden egg. If you understand how the goose works and let it work for you, that's using resources properly.

Greed in the world of big pharma means stifling diabetes cures because insulin is such a cash cow. Treating symptoms with long courses of drugs instead of solving the problem. Greed is setting up a financial house of cards, and not caring what happens to the markets after you cash out.

When you're talking about greed, you may have meant lenders who decided to loan out money, getting a good return on investment while helping people who need loans. This is normal capitalism. Lending people more than they can afford to pay back and enjoying your bonus while they get evicted, that's greed, and it helps no one.

Re:It's called market segmentation (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 5 years ago | (#26872331)

I would separate 'greed' from normal self interest.

I consider greed to be excess self interest that misses the larger picture and results in a worse outcome for all in the long run.

Enlightened self interest says I can benefit more over time by not trying to brutally screw everyone else in the world in the near term.

I own a hefty chunk of GSK stock, so I will find out first hand how this plays out financially in the long run.

the first tablet (2, Insightful)

spectrokid (660550) | more than 5 years ago | (#26871743)

Remember that in pharma, the first tablet you press costs a gazillion dollar, the second one 1 cent. If you are in a country where you can ten-double sales by slashing 75% of the price, it is still a smart move.

Re:the first tablet (3, Interesting)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 5 years ago | (#26871895)

Of course, such an arrangement is only possible if people respect the "licence" (contract that is a prerequisite of the sale) of the pills.

That contract is going to specify that export to richer countries is not permitted.

Suppose this after-sale contract were to be ruled void (which is quite possibly the correct way for a judge to rule given current law), and import allowed, the pharma "giant" will be competing against itself, resulting in massive losses.

Those massive losses, that stem from not respecting the "licence" of the pills, will either prevent the pharma company from offering those pills, or they will kill the company.

Great initiative ! I truly hope it will last, but I fear for it's viability.

Re: good sales and goodwill (2, Insightful)

macraig (621737) | more than 5 years ago | (#26871889)

It's a close cousin to the ever-popular "going green" announcements and product releases. My current favorite for that B.S. is Johnson&Johnson, "a family [owned] company". Then there's "antibacterial" and antimicrobial products.

All of this can perhaps be filed under the heading of Deliberate Mis-Education. Big Pharma is... wait for it... LE-GEN-DARY for that, including even mis-educating general practitioners as well as consumers. Big Pharma would like the world to completely forget that virtually all of its products are DERIVATIVE of something already found in nature, and from which there was usually already a NON-PATENTABLE folk remedy that accomplishes much if not all of what their patented derivatives might do.

Ain't it amazing the vast conspiratorial evil that people can do when they assemble themselves into an upside-down tree with the biggest FUD-makers at the top and everyone else just doing what they're told no-questions-asked?

Johnson != Johnson (3, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#26872131)

My current favorite for that B.S. is Johnson&Johnson, "a family [owned] company".

I've never heard JNJ referred to as a family company. Are you confusing it with SC Johnson [wikipedia.org] , the company that makes Ziploc, Windex, and Scrubbing Bubbles products?

Re: good sales and goodwill (1)

wisty (1335733) | more than 5 years ago | (#26872405)

And what is the bet that a slice of this 20% of profits will be re-invested in "educating" medical staff?

Drugs (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26871297)

You are mistaking drugs and dRuGs!!!111

Dude. What about the World's rich? (3, Interesting)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#26871305)

Consider that just because a nation's average income is relatively high, it does not follow that everyone in that country is able to buy the products at the higher price. Why should people who had the dumb luck to be born in some shithole country be blessed with lower-priced medicine?

That's not social justice. It's social prejudice.

Re:Dude. What about the World's rich? (2, Insightful)

easyTree (1042254) | more than 5 years ago | (#26871331)

Social prejudice is this year's racial prejudice.

Let ppl make a ham-fisted attempt at atoning for past abuses will ya?, jeez ;-)

Re:Dude. What about the World's rich? (3, Insightful)

penix1 (722987) | more than 5 years ago | (#26871763)

That would be all well and good but they aren't atoning for shit here. Let me count the ways for you:

1. Richer countries like the US and UK are subsidizing this drug program. You don't honestly think GSK is going to give up its profits now do you...

2. They are putting some of their patents in a "patent pool", whatever that means, instead of doing the real "right thing" and releasing those patents to the public domain. Torpedo patents anyone...

3. This isn't an attempt to "do good" more than it is an attempt to stop countries from ignoring their patents and developing generics on their own. A little profit is better than no profit in their eyes. Besides, as 1 above suggests, they will make it up off the richer countries.

This is a multi-billion dollar a year industry we are talking about here. They have no conscience and no morals. Profit is their only motivator. No company does anything out of the goodness of their heart unless it will lead to greater profits and/or market dominance. This is doubly so with the drug industry.

Re:Dude. What about the World's rich? (0)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 5 years ago | (#26871369)

Why should you get cheap iPods then?

Re:Dude. What about the World's rich? (2, Interesting)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 5 years ago | (#26871377)

Why should people who had the dumb luck to be born in some shithole country be blessed with lower-priced medicine?

Because in Soviet Russia^W^W^H Capitalist America, you can increase profits that way. And that's encouraged. In a market where you're free to not trade, any trade you do is good for the people who trade (according to simplistic Econ 101 principles, and discounting negative externalities, and ...).

Whether selling cheap medicine in poor countries is a good thing in practice is another question.

That's an attempt at an answer to your question. I want to add to that the following:

I find it strange that you say people are lucky to live in (er, be born in) a shithole; the two don't add up. Even if you isolate their luck to the case of medicine prices, what they have to pay might upset their budget more (or less, could as well be) than you paying what you have to pay where you live.

Spending $AMOUNT $CURRENCY on medicine means you forgo the option of spending $AMOUNT $CURRENCY on something else. How bad that is for you depend on what else you could have gotten and how much you want it. That varies between cultures depending on their shitholiness.

Re:Dude. What about the World's rich? (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 5 years ago | (#26871411)

shitholiness

I think I see a new meme coming out of this one.

Re:Dude. What about the World's rich? (1)

internerdj (1319281) | more than 5 years ago | (#26871711)

Well the good news is the people in these poverty stricken countries will now be able to sell medicines to us rich Americans, by undercutting the costs of the companies that sold them the medicines in the first place. Except the medicines will just be seized by the governments in the first place and they will make the profit.

Re:Dude. What about the World's rich? (4, Informative)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#26871393)

It is a case of supply vs. demand. It is just business. Each country or area has a different supply vs. demand curve. If the average population makes 30k a year there will be a different curve then people living on 10k a year. Getting the right balance will maximize profits and matching pricing for the right areas is more profitable.

This happens in all sectors, say you are traveling around the world and you give the bell boy a 5 dollar tip. In the US that will like $5 for them (Deli-Meat for a week). In the country where the average is about $10k that is a $15 (Good cuts for meat for dinner about 2 days and the deli-meat) for the really poor countries where people make $1k a year. That would be close to a $150 tip (Food for a family for a week or 2).

Re:Dude. What about the World's rich? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26871399)

Consider that just because a nation's average income is relatively high, it does not follow that everyone in that country is able to buy the products at the higher price.

If the nation has a screwed up health system, that's hardly GSKs problem.

Re:Dude. What about the World's rich? (5, Insightful)

MadMidnightBomber (894759) | more than 5 years ago | (#26871405)

Well, in the UK we have evil socialised medicine, so we don't have to pay the full cost of our medically necessary drugs. (There is a small, flat charge per prescription)

Re:Dude. What about the World's rich? (1, Insightful)

ir (104) | more than 5 years ago | (#26871595)

No, everyone else has to pay for your shitty health habits through taxation.

Re:Dude. What about the World's rich? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26871669)

Of course it's much better to pay twice as much for private healthcare, then die anyway because your uninsured neighbour infects you with a nasty disease they left untreated. Or the uninsured bus driver with the untreated dodgy knee wipes out your car.
News: You pay for other people's ill health one way or another. If they're too ill to work, they're not paying taxes - so you're paying more.

Still, no point in trying to explain civilization to retards eh?

Re:Dude. What about the World's rich? (1)

easyTree (1042254) | more than 5 years ago | (#26871917)

Michael Moore had a fair attempt in Sicko [imdb.com] . Check it out at your earliest convenience...

Of course, he can't be right because he smells like a *liberal* and we know that's bad..

Re:Dude. What about the World's rich? (3, Insightful)

Ginger Unicorn (952287) | more than 5 years ago | (#26871673)

yeah, along with all those people born with or stricken down with ailments over which they have no control are just parasitic scum that should be left to die in a ditch lest they put too much of a strain on the taxpayer.

Re:Dude. What about the World's rich? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26871947)

Remember Slashdot is not generally known for its strong understanding of sarcasm. Use the tag Luke!

Re:Dude. What about the World's rich? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26872079)

oh, that's real helpful, that is.

Re:Dude. What about the World's rich? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26871689)

Or, people who are sick don't have much disadvantage and you can be sure that once you get sick, your life plan isn't screwed up...

That's definitely something I'm willing to pay for. Those few abusing the system are negligible.

Re:Dude. What about the World's rich? (4, Insightful)

Nazlfrag (1035012) | more than 5 years ago | (#26871909)

I'm not from the UK, there they have a comprehensive national insurance policy. Still, when I look at the USA who tax their citizens at a rate of 2.9% [wikipedia.org] for medical cover that covers only the disabled and elderly (>65), and compare that to the 1.5% [wikipedia.org] we pay here in Australia that gets comprehensive health cover for every citizen, I just cannot comprehend the mentality that a state run hospital service is somehow less necessary to a modern functioning society than a state run fire service or police service. They are all vital to a functional stable society, and it is in the best interests of every citizen to have full coverage for all.

Re:Dude. What about the World's rich? (1)

wisty (1335733) | more than 5 years ago | (#26871949)

Health habits wouldn't correlate with insurance much because the cost is less than the suffering.

As for the efficiencies of public health, when was the last time a HMO was accused of efficiently delivering customer treatments? They don't act too different to Soviet Central Planners, except they aint as altruistic. At least, that's what I saw on Sicko.

It's not like health insurance is an efficient market - you can't change (without a lot of costs), and customers don't know the difference between good and bad service (until their treatment is denied, and they can't change due to pre-existing conditions).

Re:Dude. What about the World's rich? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26872023)

Wow! Taxation! You Yanks love to spout that line as if you don't pay any.

I'm from the UK. I live in the US. I have paid taxes under both systems. I haven't notice much difference in taxes.

(Except for the having to pay for some of my health insurance, getting billed for copays, dealing with the shitty hospitals and doctors that try to bill you even though their agreement with the insurance companies forbids it, dealing with the shitty insurance companies that manage to forget what their contract states they cover, etc.)

Re:Dude. What about the World's rich? (1)

MadMidnightBomber (894759) | more than 5 years ago | (#26872455)

*snicker* I've been seen by a nurse twice in the last two years - once needed a bandage on my finger, once didn't need any treatment. Sorry for my huge drain on the nation's coffers.

Re:Dude. What about the World's rich? (1)

EddyPearson (901263) | more than 5 years ago | (#26872493)

Solidarity hey?

Fuck that.

Re:Dude. What about the World's rich? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26871831)

The small, flat charge per perscription only applies if you have the misfortune to be English, as opposed to in the glorious independent nations of Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

Re:Dude. What about the World's rich? (1)

MadMidnightBomber (894759) | more than 5 years ago | (#26872561)

(I put on my pedant hat and robe) No, it applies if you happen to live in England regardless of nationality.

So in other words (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 5 years ago | (#26872033)

you don't really have any idea how much you really pay for except what comes directly out of your pocket the day you pick it up?

Ignorance is bliss.

you are paying the full cost, you just don't what full cost really is let alone what is really being paid. In other words, if you were getting ripped off you wouldn't know it. Now, if a drug cost less than the threshold are you given it for that lower cost or at the mandated price? (as in, do you pay more for cheap drugs to make up paying less for expensive ones?)

Re:Dude. What about the World's rich? (1)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | more than 5 years ago | (#26871451)

It's called price discrimination. Are you saying they shouldn't have the right to choose the price at which they sell the goods that they own, that they produced? Is a man not entitled to the sweat of his brow?

Re:Dude. What about the World's rich? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#26872429)

Is a man not entitled to the sweat of his brow?

Sure. He's not entitled to the sweat of my brow. Much of the research is actually done at schools and universities which receive public funding.

Re:Dude. What about the World's rich? (1)

leromarinvit (1462031) | more than 5 years ago | (#26871463)

It's called health insurance. Most developed nations have it. The rich pay way more than the poor, so that even the poor can afford medical care.

Sucks to live in the USA I guess.

What the hell is wrong with Muslims? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26871487)

http://www.buffalonews.com/437/story/578644.html [buffalonews.com]

Can someone please tell my WHY their primitive and barbaric religious practices haven't advanced since the 7th century AD? Hey Muslims, if you want to live here, leave your barbaric practices at home. Gee, I can't imagine WHY this guy's wife had an order of protection slapped against him. It's not like he has a temper problem or anything (like most Muslims)...

Re:Dude. What about the World's rich? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#26871547)

Its how things seem to work around here. If you are capable of barely making it, you get screwed.

Re:Dude. What about the World's rich? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26871841)

Absolutely. I have a medical condition that can only be treated with a certain prescription medication. This medication is patent encumbered, and therefore has been unavailable in generic form since its debut nearly 20 years ago. My wife and I make a decent salary (probably right in the middle of middle class), but I can NOT afford this medicine. Without insurance it would cost 500$ a month. With insurance it's still 250$ a month. So now I do without. It's difficult for my wife and I, all because of greed by big pharma.

Re:Dude. What about the World's rich? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26872225)

...right in the middle of middle class...but I can NOT afford...500$ a month.

You either have an unrealistic idea of "middle class", or you're living FAR above your means.

Re:Dude. What about the World's rich? (4, Insightful)

D Ninja (825055) | more than 5 years ago | (#26871937)

Why should people who had the dumb luck to be born in some shithole country be blessed with lower-priced medicine?

This statement boggles my mind.

Sure, the people born in the war-torn, poverty-ridden, disease-ridden, crime-laden hell hole of a country is getting cheaper medicine. Of course, then they're also dealing with war, heavy poverty, disease and crime.

What Americans fail to understand is that, even the most poor off and worst person in America is (many times) still doing better than some of "rich" people in other countries.

Of course, if you want to go live in said countries so you can get cheaper medicine, be my guest. You might learn a thing or two.

Re:Dude. What about the World's rich? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26871999)

Hey you sound like a really great guy, I really like your way of thinking. Those lucky lucky lucky poor bas*ards, I find it disgusting they might be able to afford medicines without being unlucky enought to be born into the first world like us poor chumps....

An example. (1)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 5 years ago | (#26872323)

I am without insurance in the US, and medications for a chronic disease I have top $2000 (yes, thousand) a month.

I'm sorry, but most middle and even upper middle class people will groan under that kind of expense, and i'm still just trying to start a career.

Re:Dude. What about the World's rich? (1)

greetings programs (964239) | more than 5 years ago | (#26872511)

Sir, you are an idiot. Why do you feel entitled to everything the world has to offer just because you were born in a so called first world country?

So, instead of 4x overpriced... (4, Insightful)

Guspaz (556486) | more than 5 years ago | (#26871321)

Aren't drugs already like 50% in Canada? So wouldn't a more meaningful gesture be to sell drugs for 25% of the price in Canada?

Three-quarters-off a $200 prescription is still $50. Not something that people living on a dollar or two a day can afford.

Re:So, instead of 4x overpriced... (2, Funny)

wisty (1335733) | more than 5 years ago | (#26871347)

Well Canada is not *that* developing.

Results of N.A. Experimentation. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26871341)

Looks like the results are in and they have found that by drugging the drinking water they make profit (and keep the populace pacified). So lets do it in other countries too!

Pax? (1)

Technopaladin (858154) | more than 5 years ago | (#26872217)

I do not hold to that.

Mail order (1)

OhPlz (168413) | more than 5 years ago | (#26871349)

Sounds great to me, when is a mail order pharmacy going to open up in one of these countries?

Re:Mail order (5, Funny)

johnsie (1158363) | more than 5 years ago | (#26871397)

The Nigerians are already working on it. In the next few days you should receive an email telling you how to transfer the money.

Why a patent pool for reasearch? (1)

mocm (141920) | more than 5 years ago | (#26871365)

Isn't it the purpose of the patent system to make those inventions available for research in exchange for a monopoly?

Re:Why a patent pool for reasearch? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26871905)

He said the p-word! Get him!

(That's right, purpose)

Re:Why a patent pool for reasearch? (1)

Manfre (631065) | more than 5 years ago | (#26871933)

The effect of drug patents is to prevent competition to keep their overinflated prices. When the patent is about to expire, they change the drug slightly and get a new patent for the "new" derivative drug. They keep the name recognition for the drug, which maintains their sales. The effectiveness of the new version of the drug is usually not any better.

Note the double standard (2, Insightful)

east coast (590680) | more than 5 years ago | (#26871391)

It's funny how if people complain about problems with the latest ATI video card being 600 dollars we hear the peanut gallery mock about early adopters but when people complain about the same thing involving drugs we hear that it's nothing but greed on the manufacturers part.

Drugs cost a ton to do R&D on. Let's be at least a little sympathetic to the plight of manufacturers trying to gain back their costs involved in bringing you the latest cures.

Re:Note the double standard (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26871453)

Medicine isn't some impulse buy of a newfangled gadget. People live and die by their ability to acquire it.

Re:Note the double standard (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26871505)

That is utter nonsense. A large number of drugs created now days are simply older drugs that are slightly changed near the end of their patent life so the drug companies can basically get a new patent on an old drug.

I think a good example of this is Nexium. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esomeprazole#Controversy [wikipedia.org]

Another good example is the antidepressant Lexapro which is just the active isomer of Celexa.

Yes, some drugs do cost an absolutely massive amount of money to develop but most drug companies are heading towards the cheaper option of extending their patents rather then creating anything new that could benefit society.

Re:Note the double standard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26871557)

Yeah that better fits their profile. And it explains a lot about how poor Lexapro worked for my sister who'd had no luck with Celexa

Public research (1)

Tony (765) | more than 5 years ago | (#26871619)

Let's not forget that many drugs are developed based on research funded by our national college systems. That is: developed based on research performed with our own money.

Most of their money is spent advertising, rather than doing R and D; and what money *is* spent on R&D is all about penile erectile dysfunction, or hayfever.

Re:Note the double standard (1)

wisty (1335733) | more than 5 years ago | (#26872075)

Now that you mention it ... A lot of drugs these days are new drugs that aren't as effective (or have uglier side effects) as good ol' aspirin and penicillian. Except the patents are expired on the old drugs, so they don't market them any more.

Patent status can be more important than effectiveness. Heck, they only stopped marketing that antibiotic that made children hemorrhage to death when the patent expired (http://repository.upenn.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1139&context=marketing_papers)

Heart attack drugs that give you strokes? Diabetes drugs that make you fat (which is just *marvelous* for your long-term risks)? Pain killers that are more addictive than morphine? Oh, where can I sign up!

OK, some of it is good, but drug companies are marketing companies first, and research companies second. Look at their budgets.

Re:Note the double standard (1)

D-Cypell (446534) | more than 5 years ago | (#26871537)

Yes, this post is incredibly insightful! Especially to myself and others like me who are currently suffering from terminal cases of 'Low frame rate'

FFS!

Re:Note the double standard (5, Insightful)

jellie (949898) | more than 5 years ago | (#26871583)

Yes, R&D costs are very high. But a significant portion of the research is sponsored by governments, not necessarily by drug manufacturers. Plus, it's hard to be sympathetic when drug manufacturers spend more money on marketing than on R&D. They also have one of the largest profit margins.

It's a little unfair to be comparing the costs of drugs and of graphics cards. One is possibly a matter of life and death. And, in an economy in which every major industry is suffering, healthcare costs continue to rise.

Re:Note the double standard (5, Insightful)

db32 (862117) | more than 5 years ago | (#26871621)

Yeah! This is only possible because Starbucks has been lowering its coffee prices. The 40-60% they spend on marketing has dropped significantly since the truckloads of crap they buy docs has gotten cheaper in the failing economy. I will be a little sympathetic when their research costs more than the bribery they engage in. I will be a little sympathetic when they quit "modifying" drugs to get an extra 2% effectiveness on some minimal behavior of a drug to get a new patent for it so they can charge exhorbant prices over the previous version that can now be made in generic form for pennies. I will be a little sympathetic when they quit buying political figures to push for mandatory vaccinations of school girls at $360 a pop when even one of they key researches of the vaccine says it is not meant for girls that young and could actually be harmful.

I mean seriously...let's all feel sorry for the serial killer that has to dig yet another hole...digging holes is hard work after all. Right now these companies are facing big problems in these countries because those governments are invalidating their patents right now. These companies want so much money that the peopel cannot afford that the people's governments have said "Fuck off, we will make our own generics". I suspect this "generous" price drop has more to do with putting political/economic pressure on these countries to enforce patents than it does some generous streak.

Re:Note the double standard (2, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#26872507)

I will be a little sympathetic when they quit "modifying" drugs to get an extra 2% effectiveness on some minimal behavior of a drug to get a new patent for it so they can charge exhorbant prices over the previous version that can now be made in generic form for pennies

it's actually much worse than that. the FDA does NOT have a standard that says that a new drug has to even be as effective as the drug it replaces. And if the drug is substantially similar to the drug it is replacing, it does not even have to be subjected to a trial. Big Pharma continually replaces drugs with less effective drugs with unknown side effects, then makes claims that this is the best new thing even though those claims are completely unsubstantiated, in order to discredit the old drug which has gone generic and may actually be more effective than the new drug - nobody actually knows until the drug hits the market and either is more or less effective, starts killing people, whatever... because no tests whatsoever have actually been done.

When you add to this the drug reps and doctors' collaboration on discrediting the old drugs and prescribing you the new drugs, which results in both of them getting cash bonuses, you can see that the system is not set up to help people, but just to make money at any human cost.

Even social services are used as a means to push the agendas of Big Pharma. For example, the California state health plan "Medi-Cal" (and its relative CMSP) will not cover many older, effective drugs any more. Why not? They're readily available in generic form. Medi-Cal will also only pay for you to have silver fillings, regardless of cost, even though they are backed with Mercury and that mercury is known to leech out of your teeth throughout the course of your life. In fact, hot beverages are known to cause the release of mercury vapors. Time for my morning coffee on top of my eleven silver fillings!

Re:Note the double standard (1)

Zerth (26112) | more than 5 years ago | (#26871679)

I'm very sympathetic to their R&D costs, those that aren't already paid for by the government. Even more for the costs of safety trials, those they don't fake.

But since they could easily halve their drug costs by eliminating their "doctor schmoozing" division and their "Ads for hypochondriacs" division, which together cost more than their actual drug producing departments, I don't have much sympathy for the companies as a whole.

Re:Note the double standard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26871699)

Your comparison is inapt. To show a double standard you have to show that all is otherwise equal. There are many differences between "the latest ATI video card" and a prescription drug. Generally, the first is a luxury and the second a necessity.

The reality is that the prices are based on geography with overlap in ability-to-pay being ignored. That is, the poorest Americans cannot afford these drugs as well as the richest of other countries. Yet the rich in those countries pay the lower price while those poorer Americans are subsidizing the R&D costs.

Of course, Americans are doing more than subsidizing the R&D costs. We're paying more for drugs that have already turned profit.

We can't blame the drug companies. They are just seeking to maximize profits. They are setting the price for each market based on supply and demand. But don't pretend like they're not!

Re:Note the double standard (0)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 5 years ago | (#26871703)

parent is NOT insightful. parent is a moran.

Drugs cost a ton to do R&D on

no, drugs cost a ton TO MARKET AND ADVERTISE. much of the R/D is with public money (its true).

go research how much is wasted in marketing and 'selling to doctors' via gifts and such. a sizeable amount of their budget is spent on useless non-technical things meant ONLY to enhance sales of their legal-crack. also they spend millions to fight 'illegal drugs' since it is seen as 'competition' for the legal congress-approved drugs.

if there is ever a revolution (pitchforks to the streets and such) the drug companies are first on my list for lynchings.

drug companies have the moral responsiblity to NOT withold life saving drugs to people in need. they are cold hearted bastards and there should be a place in hell for such people.

Re:Note the double standard (1)

torrija (993870) | more than 5 years ago | (#26871807)

video cards don't save human lives.

Re:Note the double standard (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 5 years ago | (#26871845)

Drugs cost a ton to do R&D on. Let's be at least a little sympathetic to the plight of manufacturers trying to gain back their costs involved in bringing you the latest cures.

If a manufacturer tries to get just its R&D costs back, it looks like the drug is expensive.
If a manufacturer tries to get its R&D costs back and tries to make indecent profits, it looks like the drug is expensive.

How are we supposed to know which case is which ?

Huge profit margins despite huge R&D (1)

hellfire (86129) | more than 5 years ago | (#26872279)

That's a wives tail that big pharma wants you to believe. Take a look at ATI's profit margin. Now take a look at any of the big pharma's profit margins.

The average total profit margin on these companies' P&L statements is around 30%. That's global, after all factors are considered, including R&D.

Yes, 30 cents of every dollar paid on drugs is pure profit. ATI would kill for that profit margin. No other industry has nearly that much profit. Before the economic downturn, Toyota was something like 6% profit on it's income statement. Yes big pharma has huge research costs, there's no doubt about it, but their prices are still insanely high.

Besides, when all that research is spent on the latest skin care, erection, or anti-baldness pills, or coming up with a reformulation of an old drug that they can charge 1000% markup when the old version only sells for $10, perhaps that R&D is just there to help drive up prices anyway?

Re:Note the double standard (2, Insightful)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 5 years ago | (#26872381)

It's funny how if people complain about problems with the latest ATI video card being 600 dollars we hear the peanut gallery mock about early adopters but when people complain about the same thing involving drugs we hear that it's nothing but greed on the manufacturers part.

You don't suffer in horrible agony, become debilitated and lose your job, family, or sanity, or die when you don't get a video card.

Additionally, most R&D today is done in federally funded universities.

Funny how the anti-socialized medicine crowd are all over it when it comes to helping main street but its perfectly fine to socialize the R&D for these companies, then hand them the patents.

obvious why ... (5, Informative)

tyroneking (258793) | more than 5 years ago | (#26871395)

from the article: "although they worry that it may undermine the generics industry which currently supplies the cheapest drugs in poor countries"

News just in... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26871423)

Giant spider promises free parking for flies !

Hold the plaudits, self-interest is driving this (3, Interesting)

Bearhouse (1034238) | more than 5 years ago | (#26871529)

FTA: "Campaigners privately say the move is remarkable, although they worry that it may undermine the generics industry which currently supplies the cheapest drugs in poor countries."

Exactly. Big pharma is in big trouble - blockbuster drugs going off patent, no new ones coming online, Govs. getting more aggressive in fixing prices. So, this is a smart move. While they still can, they can use the one advantage they still have - their size - to buy/crush the small 'generics' producers out.

Still, whatever the underlying motivation, it's encouraging to see big pharma at last getting more involved with the poorer nations of the world, which have been scandalously ignored.

They actually don't have any option (4, Insightful)

agoliveira (188870) | more than 5 years ago | (#26871589)

Of course they are not doing it from the kindness of their hearts. It's a matter of damage control. A country (any country) can break the patents and start producing any drug in case of need if a commercial arrangement can't be reached with the patent holder so, if they don't provide cheaper drugs, they will lose the whole deal.

Re:They actually don't have any option (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 5 years ago | (#26871915)

How, exactly, are these governments going to get hold of the production process for these drugs they want to produce? Its not as simple as saying 'right, lets do it!'...

Re:They actually don't have any option (1)

agoliveira (188870) | more than 5 years ago | (#26872013)

In BRIC countries at least they do have the facilities and technology as they do have their own local drug production.
BTW, I wonder why I was modded flamebait, I really think like that and that was not my intention at all :/

TOTAL BS (2, Insightful)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 5 years ago | (#26871605)

The reason it is so high in places like China and India is because they have their money FIXED against ours and designed to pull the jobs away from the west. That causes high import prices. NOW, by lowering the price ARTIFICIALLY, and most likely moving the manufacturing lines to these countries, they kill their own future as well as those of us who did the RD in the first place. The fact that companies would do this is abhorrent. Now, we need to be allowed to re-import these drugs BACK to the west at the MUCH LOWER costs and kill these companies profits.

Re:TOTAL BS (1)

need4mospd (1146215) | more than 5 years ago | (#26871977)

Now, we need to be allowed to re-import these drugs BACK to the west at the MUCH LOWER costs and kill these companies profits.

In this case, NOT allowing re-imports might be better from a world view point. Allowing re-import of the drugs would just cause the pharma companies to raise prices in the poorer countries to bring their profits back. At which point the poorer countries would no longer have cheap drugs.

Re:TOTAL BS (1)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 5 years ago | (#26872051)

This is really no different than Region Coding DVD players. You can maximize profits by selling in each region what the market will bear. However, you have to find ways to ensure that people can't purchase that $2 new movie, and play it in their American player.

This is probably in response to the (1)

Big Hairy Ian (1155547) | more than 5 years ago | (#26871611)

fact that they are losing tones of sales because of cheap counterfeit drugs coming largely from china http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/7865569.stm [bbc.co.uk] most of which are happily finding their way into the medical centers of the west.

The Plan (3, Interesting)

BTWR (540147) | more than 5 years ago | (#26871617)

Step 1. Go to so-called "poor country."
Step 2. Buy 10,000 units of drug X at 25% of its cost in the US/Canada/Europe.
Step 3. Sell drug X in US/Canada/Europe at 50% of its normal Drug X cost (i.e. at twice the price you paid), advertising your pharmacy as having the best prices in the country.
Step 4. (Just do step 3 a lot)
Step 5. Profit!

Re:The Plan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26872305)

The missing ???? Step is figuring out how to avoid customs officials on your way back into the country.

Re:The Plan (1)

Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) | more than 5 years ago | (#26872457)

"The Plan" won't work in the USA. Here's why.
1) When you buy drugs outside of the USA, the FDA flips out and says that the drugs weren't subjected to "rigorous testing" or some such blather and (they do have a point here) without such testing, you have no way to know if you are really getting the drug you think you bought or a weakened version or a placebo. In a worst case scenario, you die from tainted medicine (remember China and the "milk"?)
2) Federal law limits the amount of drugs that can legally be brought in, so doing whatever is necessary to try to import them legally brings you back to #1. Rinse and repeat.

So... (1, Interesting)

CountBrass (590228) | more than 5 years ago | (#26871629)

Not only do we taxpayers get to carry on subsidising the world's poor and keeping their leaders in designer shoes, now as customers of the drugs companies, we get to subsidise their medicines as well.

I give to charities, domestic and foreign, because I've decided they are deserving of my money. It is not the job of Government to do so on my behalf.

Re:So... (0, Flamebait)

corporal_clegg (547755) | more than 5 years ago | (#26872203)

Not only do we taxpayers get to carry on subsidising the world's poor and keeping their leaders in designer shoes, now as customers of the drugs companies, we get to subsidise their medicines as well.

I give to charities, domestic and foreign, because I've decided they are deserving of my money. It is not the job of Government to do so on my behalf.

This was marked as a Troll!? *sigh* How is this any different than the higher-ranked posts above that all but drip with condemnation for the Eeeeviillllll Corporation even when the corporation is actually doing *something* to lower costs?

Ahh Leftdot, you do not disappoint.

Soon to be the worlds largest? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26871687)

With this kind of initiative we are sure to see GSK become the worlds largest pharma/drug company.

A company acts precisely as a company should... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26871759)

And we pillory it?

It may well end up increasing GSK's bottom line, but it will also bring needed drugs at reduced prices to people who may not otherwise be able to acquire them.

Also in the current climate of corporate idiocy isn't it rather refreshing to see a major corporation do something very smart and provide social benefits at the same time?

No you guys are right, let's stick it to 'em!

Hooray! (-1, Troll)

vdammer (796081) | more than 5 years ago | (#26871773)

Cheap thalidomide for the brown people of the world!

yes men (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26871825)

sounds like a yes men hoax. lets hope that its real

not that big a deal (2, Insightful)

confused one (671304) | more than 5 years ago | (#26871875)

While one might like to think they're purpose is wholly based on charity, it's not that simple. Look, They have to offer the drugs at a lower price in third world economies if they want to sell them there. Also, selling drugs cheap in developing countries has been shown to provide long term returns for the companies (once the economy of the developing country grows into a functional first world economy, the drug manufacturer will already have a foot-hold).

And it's easy enough to meet their price of 25% of US and UK prices statement, by setting the US and UK price high enough.

I'm not being cynical. I'm being a realist who's read some history.

Re:not that big a deal (1)

snspdaarf (1314399) | more than 5 years ago | (#26872193)

I agree. I just think they could lower their US prices a little if they did not advertise prescription products. Something about that whole process bothers me, and not just because the ads tend to be in the highest cost time slots. The drug companies spend huge amounts of money to tell people, "We have done all we can to get your doctor to give you this wonderful drug, now you should do it, too, and don't give up! Ofcoursetheremaybehorrificsideeffects, but look how wonderful the people in our ads feel!"

And, as a plus, nobody would ever have to hear that "Viva Viagra" song ever again.

don't use normal logic all the time. get to know. (2, Informative)

Caue (909322) | more than 5 years ago | (#26872031)

sigh. i'm brazilian and I know that that means. Don't use your market logics on this one. There is a market of "generic drugs" here; we basically rip off the main components of the formula, the active principle, and rename it. It's funded by the governament and sometimes 90% cheaper than imported drugs. I used to be neighbours to the owner of one of these labs that made generics; reaaaally rich guy (go figure) even so, Brazil is today a world reference in AIDS treatment and we have the best govt. coverage for it (US health system is really bellow us in this, but only this) so there you go economy in a nutshell

in other words ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26872061)

... The US citizen will subsidize the third world's medical needs while neglecting to provide medical care, including cheap medicines, to its own citizens.

Good move.

I'd be impressed... (1)

OneSmartFellow (716217) | more than 5 years ago | (#26872159)

... if it weren't for the fact that I'm skeptical enough to know better.

Ignoring the fact that they spend twice as much on advertising as on R&D [sciencedaily.com] , routinely dump their toxic crap in underdeveloped countries [wsws.org] ; the truth is that the majority [blogsome.com] of their products [nytimes.com] are worthless [medindia.net] , and may do more harm than good [bbc.co.uk]

Not as generous as it seems... (1)

EddyPearson (901263) | more than 5 years ago | (#26872207)

We're actually at a turning point with a lot of these less developed countries. More and more of them are advancing to a point where they're technically capable of making their own generic versions of these extremely expensive drugs (see Cuba).

Politically it would be dynamite. I can see promises of free healthcare winning Elections, and in lieu of democracy, revolutions.

Make no mistake, we're entering dangerous times for Big Drug Inc.

GSK have realized that either they make their prices acceptable, or they may very soon find that their share of the market disappears overnight.

Progress? Debatable.

OK (1)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 5 years ago | (#26872475)

I am all for helping the poor, but we have to help the poor in our own respective countries first. It is little known that there are parts of the deep south mired in shocking poverty which resembles trips to third world nations. There are areas of the Louisiana Bayous, Macon County, GA, and parts of the Mississippi Delta that have no electricity, running water, sewage treatment, or any other amenity that most others enjoy. I am so sick of our politicians blatantly ignoring the suffering of our own people. The only reason these drugs companies are advocating low cost medications to poor countries is to look like a "responsible corporation." So, the drug companies get additional charitable tax write offs and it is sick. Indeed it is only smoke and mirrors. So, the next time you see a commercial coming from a drug company that looks altruistic, don't believe the bull shit they are spewing.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>