Monday, June 12, 2006

A Steroid Rant...

     I just finished paying some medical bills (I hope the checks were for the right amounts given my steroid craze right now!) and decided it was time for a RANT.  I'm going after the drug companies today...

     I just read an article Biogen Idec/Elan has made a decision to raise the price of TYSABRI 26% when it returns for sale this next month.  They give lots of reasons and explanations why, but the bottom line is ALWAYS profit Money, money, money...making money off the sick.  I hate these bastards! 

     Now, I DO have insurance, unlike some of my MS friends, so I shant complain too much on my account.  But for those of you who don't or who have poorly funded insurance...I hate these bastard drug companies!!!

     I'm plagiarizing an excerpt from a site I found today about pharmaceutical company profits and CEO salaries.  The information is a few years old, but you'll get the picture. 

     And once again, I'M JUST SAYIN'...

Washington, D.C. - A new report by the consumer health organization Families USA refutes the pharmaceutical industry's claim that high and increasing drug prices are needed to sustain research and development. The report documents that drug companies are spending more than twice as much on marketing, advertising, and administration than they do on research and development; that drug company profits, which are higher than all other industries, exceed research and development expenditures; and that drug companies provide lavish compensation packages for their top executives.

The report comes on the heels of a recent Families USA analysis that found prices rose more than twice the rate of inflation last year for the 50 most-prescribed drugs to seniors.

Among the nine pharmaceutical companies examined in the report - Merck, Pfizer, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Pharmacia, Abbott Laboratories, American Home Products, Eli Lilly, Schering-Plough, and Allergan - all but one (Eli Lilly) spent more than twice as much on marketing, advertising, and administration than they did on research and development, and Lilly spent more than one and one-half times as much. Six out of the nine companies made more money in net profits than they spent on research and development last year.

The report also documents profligate spending on compensation packages for top pharmaceutical executives. The executive with the highest compensation package in the year 2000, exclusive of unexercised stock options, was William C. Steere, Jr., Pfizer's Chairman, who made $40.2 million. The executive with the highest amount of unexercised stock options was C.A. Heimbold, Jr., Bristol-Myers Squibb's Chairman and CEO, who held $227.9 million in unexercised stock options.

"Pharmaceutical companies charging skyrocketing drug prices like to sugar coat the pain by saying those prices are needed for research and development," said Ron Pollack, Families USA's executive director. "The truth is high prices are much more associated with record-breaking profits and enormous compensation for top drug company executives."

Pollack added, "Drug companies' commitments to research and development are dwarfed by those companies' expenditures for marketing, advertising, and administration."

In 2000, the pharmaceutical industry was, once again, the most profitable U.S. industry, and profit margins in the industry were nearly four times the average of Fortune 500 companies. According to the Families USA report, three companies - Merck, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Abbott Laboratories - received twice as much in net profits than they spent on research and development. Three other companies - Eli Lilly, Schering-Plough, and Allergan - received more money in net profits than they spent on research and development.

"The pharmaceutical industry's repetitious cry that research and development would be curtailed if drug prices are moderated is extraordinarily misleading," said Pollack. "If meaningful steps are taken to ameliorate fast-growing drug prices, it is corporate profits, expenditures on marketing, and high executive compensation that are more likely to be affected, not research and development."

The Families USA report is based exclusively on the annual reports submitted by the pharmaceutical companies to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Since Families USA periodically reports about price changes for the 50 drugs most frequently prescribed for seniors, the report focused on the SEC filings for fiscal year 2000 of the nine pharmaceutical companies that market, or are the parent corporations of the companies that market, these 50 drugs. Mylan Laboratories, a much smaller company than the nine companies analyzed, could not be examined since it had not filed its annual proxy statement with the SEC at the time the report went to press.

This report is available on the Families USA website,


harkoo said...

my father was a doctor and used to receive lovely gifts from the pharmacy companies--very nice trips, lovely meals, you name it--he just had to write prescriptions for the drugs they were offering.  Good deal for everyone except the patient.    

ewbridges1 said...

Much of the research the big pharmaceutical companies do is not directed towards finding breakthrough drugs, but towards developing "me too" drugs. "Me too" drugs are drugs that are similar to drugs already on the market. If more money was spent on researching breakthrough drugs, we would be closer to having cures for diseases like MS.

Another big part of pharmaceutical research is finding new uses for drugs that already exist. Again, this is a far cry from conducintg research to find drugs that will cure diseases.

The SSRI class of antidepressants is a classic example of both of the above points. Prozac hit the market here (in Europe, Celexa was the first SSRI) courtesy of Eli Lilly, and all the other drug companies jumped on the bandwagon. They developed their SSRI antidepressants, and then they found new uses for them (treating social phobia, OCD, bulimia, panic disorder and so forth) and got FDA approval for those uses so that they could develop even bigger markets for their drugs. There's nothing BAD about having a host of SSRI drugs for many different emotional problems. But less emphasis on developing markets and more emphasis on developing breakthrough drugs would be profoundly better.

baitulos said...

Very nicely said, EWBRIDGES!!!!  Thanks for the comments...

sonyasuzanne said...

Wow....all I can say is wow!  I hadn't known about any of this, in my emotional state of late I'm just not reading the stuff I used to read.  I hate that this is happening and there's absolutely NOTHING we can do about it.  I wish we could all ban together and make a difference.  Like my hubbies Chiro says....'it's the meds that might end up killin ya'.