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What is the true research & development costs for my HIV medication Atripla manufactured by Gilead?

I've heard PhRMA CEOs qoute that it cost $1.2 Billion dollars to bring a new medicine to market. While I acknowledge pharmaceuticals is a high risk enterprise, I'm skeptical of this figure and thought, as a patient dependent on an expensive medication to survive, asking the TED universe would be useful.

I take Atripla, the most common one pill once a day treatment prescribed in US, for my HIV. My Atripla cost $60 a pill. I know manufacturers in India produce a generic version, Vidicay, for substantially less. I also know Atripla, in some respects, is an example of evergreening given the single pill is actually 3 separate medications in one.

The main reason I'm asking this is I am working diligently to protect public health from being compromised by the IP provisions of the Trans Pacific Partnership and the TTIP.

In my work I often speak with people about the global successes of scaling up HIV treatments through generic medicines. I speak with people about my life as well and in so doing, it would be useful for me to know the true R & D cost that went into my medication. An answer I have found to be very tough to come by.

  • Apr 28 2014: HIV R&D costs have been changing through the years. Early meds didn't do much for survival. Can't make a profit with your market dying. Add to that the next med comes along and may combine with or replace an earlier med, meaning loss of market share. I read recently of a child of a HIV mother, born infected, treated and now appearantly disease free. They're waiting and hopeful. There's some real positive research going on, a lot of it, university research reverting to corporate for development. Billions have been spent on literal dead ends. On the research side it's more a matter of seeing if one treatment will cure all. Development will take some years of testing. The trick is getting the treatment to the people. (Obamacare is a good thing.) There's real hope for you to see the end of the disease.
  • Apr 21 2014: I don't know much about HIV medicine, but I can tell you that THC hemp oil which cannot be patented by pharmaceutical companies is likely to treat the virus in its entirety. So whilst you or the tax payer is paying $60 a pop, a natural resource of this earth which happens to still be illegal could cure HIV all together.

    The gov/pharma companies have known this for decades, so HIV sufferers are basically being completely mislead for economical gain. And when pharma companies do decide its time to use THC/cabinoids to treat HIV or other diseases (because they can no longer ignore the public) they will provide an artificial alternative/equivalent which they have managed to patent.

    You prob know this already and I know it doesn't help with your research, but there may be many HIV sufferers out there that don't know this, but would like to research it themselves and pressure government into legalising cannabis and hemp.
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      Apr 22 2014: Cannabinoids treat HIV.... PUH-LEEZE.

      Rather than just attack your ridiculous statement as the steaming excrement it is, forum courtesy dictates I ask you to link to dtat backing up your claim, but you won't because you can't. Every time you make these cannabinoid cure claims on TED, you're met with nothing but roaring silence, because snickering, again, is against forum courtesy. Stop embarrassing yourself with this idiocy.
      • Apr 22 2014: You'll be eating your words pretty soon. And anyone who wants to can easily qualify my comment by doing a simple search.

        You and your possy can go and toast your success in denying people their democratic right to self medicate with natural resources.

        Cannabis is a cure without side affects. Fact
        Pharmaceutical alternetaves abuse the body and the companies need to be criminally prosecuted for their frauds.

        You are either highly naive or stand to benefit from lieing.
  • Apr 21 2014: I believe the 1.2 billion is rather low. I have been told by my friends in the bio-tech industry that they spend 1 billion on testing and documentation to get the drug approved by the FDA.
  • Apr 18 2014: Excellent input. Thank you for providing this information.
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    Apr 17 2014: Having worked within R&D in the private sector myself for many years, I don't know of any other business unit within corporations which get monitored that precisely on what the money gets spent, when and by whom. No 'blurry' or merged cost location at all.

    There is a reason why it is tough for you to get the real numbers, because having them publicized is not in the interest of any company at all and this for the following reason:

    If a company spends money on R&D, yet fails to make a profitable breakthrough, the current 'market rules' expect this company to fail and vanish off the market, as it could not gain nor maintain its competitiveness on its own.

    Patent laws on the other hand do not take into consideration how much money was really spent to make an invention possible and working, yet justifies and allows a monopoly position for a fixed time-frame.

    Therefore in R&D the best cash-cows are those random findings, preferably early in 'the game', as they didn't really cost much, yet enables a monopolized marked position for many years according to the current laws.

    The often heard arguments to justify big profits is the business risk any entrepreneur is taking, yet especially the patent laws are contradicting this dominating narrative.

    Certainly, a company who spends R&D money to grow their business have to be protected against copyists, as those could offer the same product for less. Nevertheless, in our digital age and due to the modern tools of accounting, static patent laws do not align anymore to the given market reality, and therefore should be modernized in my view.

    Like we do for tax-checking, I would have financial specialists check for the true R&D costs of a company on a certain product which would dynamically adjust the time they can legally hold a patent about it until that point they earned what they spent on R&D. From there the patent is open to the public an can and should be produced to the lowest cost possible, so that most people can befit
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    Apr 17 2014: It boggles my mind that we allow the private sector to dominate drug research and patenting when we all know profit is their principle goal. Something as important as our health should remain in the hands of the community, the state not profiteers. .

    There are all kinds of drugs that would be far more accessible to us if the profit factor was removed from the equation, especially for seniors and the poorly paid. And in particular, drugs for rare illnesses that the privateers charge exorbitant fees in order to satisfy their rapaciousness.

    Generic drugs are an excellent example of what happens when profiteering is removed from the process because those drugs differ from the brand names only in the fact that the privateers patent - monopoly - has ended and the real cost and acceptable profit margin is now apparent. If the state held that patent we all would benefit from that monopoly, especially our universities whose research centers are already highly coveted by the privateers in a variety of areas that they see huge profits in at our expense.

    But that would be too simple or egalitarian.

    And don't bother with the nonsense that the private sector is somehow superior to the public sector in providing anything.. In both instances it is all about who you employ - and many come from those same universities anyways - and what infrastructure and resources you provide them with.
  • Apr 17 2014: American patent system is at fault. They give unusually long Patent right to owners. It should be reduced so that generic can be made available. With modern developments research cost can be lowered. Third we should limit allowance for marketing for ta purposed. That adds lot to the cost.

    For Atripla there is a huge market in the world. Because of cost that keeps on increasing every year lots of people are deprived. Why drug cost should go up every year is beyond me. If formula is not changed there is no excused. If formula is changes marginally and should not rise as fast

    Barack Obama promised to let it be imported during 2008 election. He had a big deal on it. But I knew then he do not know what he is talking about and he has proved it well. I will never vote for politically inexperienced person since they may not know what they are talking about.
    • Apr 17 2014: Thanks for the comment Raj. I agree the current system is leveraged too much towards private interests which often comes at the expense of the public's.
  • Apr 16 2014: Thanks for the comment. I agree many other medications are priced far beyond reach of vast numbers of people. Just as my annual salary would be insufficient to cover my medication expenses at full cost, so to do many people unfortunately find themselves in similar predicaments.

    I do feel fortunate I'm able to take this medication but the excessive pricing makes me deeply concerned there is an inbalance between public & private interests that results in needless deaths drawn upon the lines of socioeconomics.
  • Apr 16 2014: That's all? There are far more expensive patented medications.