An April 10th report by a Goldman Sachs analyst has been making the rounds in the media. The report, entitled “The Genome Revolution,” advised pharmaceutical companies to consider making and selling drugs that treat, not cure, diseases. Why? Making drugs so effective that they eradicate a condition or disease isn’t a profitable business model in the long run.
Drug Companies Hold Our Future in Their Hands
The opioid crisis has put a national spotlight on drug companies for their role in creating and distributing drugs that have caused many in this country to spiral into devastating addiction. These companies have the knowledge and financial means to create drugs that can destroy lives. They also have the ability to save lives and help many struggling with diseases and conditions live pain-free, symptom-free, or at least better than they would without pharmaceutical intervention. Cancer patients are living longer and people with debilitating or problematic conditions and diseases are able to manage and treat symptoms, thanks to big pharma. Drug companies are not all bad. Except that we must remember that they are, at their core, a business. And businesses exist to make money.
News outlets have pointed out that some drugs that cure diseases are priced ridiculously high to ensure that they bring in quick profits. Drug companies are aware that curing a disease, especially a communicable one, means dwindling future profits.
The author of the Goldman Sachs report, Salveen Richter, highlights the case of Gilead Sciences and one of their drugs to cure Hepatitis C. Hep C is a viral infection, spread through contaminated blood and believed to infect 1 in 30 baby boomers (those born between 1945-1965). In 2014, Gilead released Harvoni (you’ve likely seen the commercials on t.v.), and it was a financial and clinical success. By the year 2015 the drug had brought in nearly $13 billion. Here’s the catch-22: Hep C has been decreasing, likely due to the effective drug that’s curing the disease and therefore preventing the spread of the virus to others. As the rate of Hep C decreases, so are Gilead’s profits associated with Harvoni. In the long run, making and distributing Harvoni isn’t “sustainable.” Basically, what drug company wants that? According to Richter, if the profits aren’t going to keep coming in, there’s no point in keeping the drug in their product portfolio.
Goldman: Drug Companies Should Treat, Not Cure
Based on Salveen Richter’s report, the unwritten, but clear message is that drug companies’ financial interests would best be realized by creating and manufacturing drugs that treat diseases and conditions, but do not cure. She advises that a sound decision would be to make drugs for common cancers, as they number of patients needing these drugs will likely remain steady. She also advises companies to figure out what conditions are on the rise or where the number of those impacted is already high, specifically citing 2 conditions that are manageable with drugs, but not curable (Spinal Muscular Atrophy, a genetic condition, and hemophilia, a blood clotting disorder).
Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that a financial firm is advising businesses to make product decisions based on their ability to turn a profit. Logically, it makes sense. But it doesn’t sit well with us. These products have the ability to save lives. When you or a loved one are sick, you would do anything, give anything, pay anything for a cure. Drug companies know this. This is why the “cure” drugs they create can cost as much as a million dollars or more. If they’re only going to get your money once, it better be a lot of it to make it worth their while. To have these thoughts put on paper by a major investment firm and leaked to the public brings the harsh reality of pharmaceutical companies into the light. It’s not about the patient. It’s about the money.
If you or someone you love has been injured or harmed by a drug or medical device, we want to hear from you. Levin & Perconti is a nationally-renowed personal injury, medical malpractice, and nursing home abuse and neglect law firm in Chicago, Illinois. Since 1992 we have successfully investigated, litigated, and settled thousands of cases for families impacted by the negligent or abusive actions of individuals and corporations. While many drugs can save lives, others have devastating side effects that are often covered up or ignored by the drug manufacturer.
Please contact our attorneys for a free, confidential consultation of your case. Call us toll-free at 1-877-374-1417, locally at (312) 332-2872, or click here to complete our online case evaluation form.