Wolfgang Link, researcher at the Center for Biomedical Research (CBMR), at the University of Algarve, has just published in the scientific journal The Lancet Oncology, a comment that aims to discuss and question the high price paid by taxpayers for current medicines on the market.
Reflecting on the fact that, in recent decades, we have witnessed a paradigm shift – which leads to a need of greater knowledge and understanding of the disease – only achieved through years of basic research (most often funded by the State and the public sector), the researcher questions the fact that private sector, in particular the companies, take advantage of these investigations and the knowledge produced by them to develop new high profit margins.
Wolfgang Link points out that, to minimize risks, private companies do some sort of ‘outsourcing’ of the riskier phases of the new drugs development, leaving them in charge of universities or small biotechnology companies, to, later, take advantage of knowledge produced by them to design medicines with minor changes, sold to the state at much higher prices.
Reflecting on how the development of new medicines has allowed for increasingly targeted treatments and more personalized approaches, the researcher assumes that the risk-reward ratio regarding pharmaceutical innovation is tremendously unbalanced when we compare public and private sector.
Indeed, from the article, it seems to be possible to suggest that taxpayers are paying twice the drugs – the first time – through the public funding of scientific research – and later, to gain access to these drugs at higher prices than would be expected.
According to the researcher, “the current system of new drugs development is inefficient and will lead us, in the future, to a scenario where access to innovative therapies will be a privilege of wealthy people”.
Based on the premise that knowledge is priceless, Wolfgang Link, who had, in this article, the advice of the renowned American economist Dean Baker, suggest a state investment in the area of new drugs development, allowing a greater balance in the price of medicines.