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Pfizer sues to get more tax money

The CNE Health blog reports that Pfizer is to take UK’s National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) to court because of its refusal to allow tax money to be spent on its new drug for Alzheimer’s disease. In a perfect system, NICE would not exist. But given our socialist healthcare system, I do not really like the idea of companies like Pfizer expecting that taxpayers must cough up the cash regardless of whether a treatment offers value for money. And to be fair, under a social insurance system or other private system, insurance companies would still make NICE-type decisions about whether something delivers value.

Meanwhile, Pfizer continues to lobby for taxpayers to pay more for pharmaceuticals by arguing for the end of the free trade in pharmaceuticals in Europe.

13 comments to Pfizer sues to get more tax money

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Doesn’t Pfizer support the CNE and other similar think-tanks financially?

  • Egad JP, I think you just might be on to something!!

  • Tim Evans

    Surely, a real free market in medicine would not necessarily rest on any third party payer as Alex seems to suggest. While it is always difficult to stipulate what a genuine market might look like – it is at least plausible to imagine that in such a world Health Savings Accounts and direct self funding would come to dominate. In that world pharma companies would be directly accountable to consumers and not have to deal with politicians. As such, everone would probably be better off. The current world of regulation and endless anti-consumer cost containment is – as he implies – socialist madness.

  • Brad

    I don’t like the insinuation of Big Industry X with Big Government, but they are simply playing on the field made for them. To use an Objectivist term, it’s all about Pull. Pathologically, this is a symptom, Statism is the disease.

  • Surely, a real free market in medicine would not necessarily rest on any third party payer as Alex seems to suggest. While it is always difficult to stipulate what a genuine market might look like – it is at least plausible to imagine that in such a world Health Savings Accounts and direct self funding would come to dominate. In that world pharma companies would be directly accountable to consumers and not have to deal with politicians. As such, everone would probably be better off. The current world of regulation and endless anti-consumer cost containment is – as he implies – socialist madness.

    In a real free market, patents would not exist and so if Pfizer charged too much for a drug, entrepeneurs would enter the market and copy the idea. This happens today in the fashion industry – one of the most vibrant and innovative industries.

  • David Amon

    Alex Singleton,

    I am not sure that comparison holds. The balance between the development costs and the production costs weight far heavier on the former in the pharmaceutical industry, than in the fashion industry.

  • Chem Ed

    It’s surely their right to go to court. And the court’s right to knock them back, with costs, and maybe abuse of process or whatever else we could stick on them.
    Alex Singleton – I’d be wary about losing patents for so many reasons. you’d lose primary research and there would be far less knowledge transfer, as there would be no protection for the inventor – so improvement to existing technology would be much slower as info would be guarded more and it would be impossible for interested observers to try improvements without knowing the workings. Patents require you to tell them.

  • Medicine versus fashion? A fashion disaster is considerably less distressing.

  • Midwesterner

    Not to mention much more entertaining.

    Oops. I just mentioned it, didn’t I?

  • Johnathan Pearce

    In case people think I was being snide, my point about Pfizer and the CNE was not meant to be.

  • The case in question revolves around the disgusting attempt to ration anti-Alzheimer drug Aricept (which contrary to the BMJ’s foaming anti-Americanism is co-marketed by Japan’s Eisai, not just Pfizer).

    NICE decided that only patients with “mild” AD should get the drug, not early or late sufferers.

    The clinical evidence shows that Aricept works well in early stages. The NICE decision looks like delaying treatment until the patient degenerates to the point where (hopefully for the bureaucrat/”doctor”) treatment can be turned down altogether because its too late.

    Given that the NICE so-called scientific evidence is kept secret, and in at least one recent case is suspected to rest on a mistaken set of figures, it seems bizarre to suggest that no legal action should ever be taken against NICE by a private sector business, as the NHS lobby seems to argue.

    The BMJ meanwhile is suggesting that NHS patients should be allowed to die each time a new drug is approved. The idea is that for each new treatment, several old ones should be scrapped.

  • Sunfish

    At what drug companies spend on R&D, scrapping the patent system would kill most of them. I own stock in two, and see what they spend on R&D. Without the seventeen years (or whatever it is) to recover those costs, there’s no incentive to develop anything new and we’re stuck with aspirin and the Salk vaccine.

    Tangent: Is there a list online of which treatments the UK NHS allows for which conditions?

  • Thanks for more info for my anti-socialized medicine rants! Many Amurricans think that it would be some utopia of fast, free, high quality medical care and perfect health for all!

    I suspected big pharma wouldn’t just roll over on government formulary decisions and price controls.

    Wouldn’t government price controls just create pressure to lengthen pharma patents to recoup R&D costs?