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scrappycocco

If You Wonder Why Medical Cures Are So Rare....

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If You Wonder Why Medical CURES Are So Rare....

Type 1 Diabetes is a nasty disease in which the islet cells in the pancreas are destroyed by the body. This renders the sufferer unable to produce insulin, which is necessary to regulate the metabolism of glucose (sugar), the body's main fuel.

Without insulin you will die. Type 1 diabetics must therefore inject insulin, either through the use of a pump or manually using syringes, literally through the day and manually test and regulate the blood sugar -- a process that healthy people's bodies do automatically.

It has been assumed that this condition, once it developed, was essentially incurable, although there were some people who believed that stem cells might be able to be "turned on" to replace the destroyed islet cells, or that we might some day come up with an artificial pancreas.

What I bet nobody assumed was that a relatively inexpensive, and 90 year old vaccine might actually cause the body to repair itself.

It looks like that may have been discovered.

A tuberculosis vaccine that has been in use for 90 years may help reverse Type 1 diabetes and eliminate the life-long need for insulin injections, results from an early study by Harvard University researchers suggest.

...

“These patients have been told their pancreases were dead,” said Denise Faustman, director of Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital’s immunobiology laboratory, who led the study. “We can take those people, give them a very low dose twice and see their pancreases kick in and start to make small amounts of insulin.”

This is the sort of breakthrough -- the possibility of an actual cure for a condition that has always been regarded as utterly incurable -- that you would think everyone would be jumping all over to test and develop, right?

Wrong.

And why not?

Faustman and her colleagues at Massachusetts General inBoston are working to get the vaccine to market. After their early findings in studies with mice, she said they tried to interest every major drugmaker in developing the vaccine as a possible cure for diabetes. All told her there wasn’t enough money to be made in a cure that used an inexpensive, generically available vaccine, Faustman said.

Got it?

It's not about people or health.

It's about money.

The implication, of course, is that if it's more profitable to "control" a disease than cure it, the path that will be pursued is "control", not cure.

Are all these chronic conditions that we suffer from truly incurable?

Or is it simply that nobody looks for actual cures, because it doesn't make as much money as "therapies" do?

It was a bit different when charities were providing a good part of the care. Then you had people actually interested in cures, because the funds were privately provided and the more people you could cure the more people you could help.

EMTALA and the rest of the mess our government put in place in the health system broke the incentives that would normally be associated with medicine, and we all get screwed as a consequence.

http://market-ticker.org/akcs-www?post=209889

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This is what I think when I hear about cancer charities. Like, if cancer was "solved" you'd be out of a job mate. Is it reaaaaaaaaaaally in your interest?

Interesting.

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Although if the costs of "treating" become too prohibitive I would expect govt to move to curing.

Currently we have the money to line the pockets of big pharmaceuticals with nice profits.

What you say does indeed make sense. As it makes sense I would not hold my breath for the government to think that way.

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This is what I think when I hear about cancer charities. Like, if cancer was "solved" you'd be out of a job mate. Is it reaaaaaaaaaaally in your interest?

Interesting.

Same thing with poverty, homelessness etc.

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I don't think it is a good idea to kill your customer....best see they live as long as they can at least still afford to pay, by managing it and controlling it without too much pain. ;)

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Same thing with poverty, homelessness etc.

I strongly suspect homelessness and poverty will exist long after any cancer vaccine is/might be invented.

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cue the forum "rationalists" to start wibbling about "conspiracy theories" and explain why scientists would never act like this, pharma execs also have families who get diabetes ... yadda yadda.

facts are corporations have their own imperatives independent of their employees.

and they are effectively immortal unlike their employees whose deaths from diabetes, cancer or whatever are assured and thereby of little long-term consequence.

i would have thought all this was axiomatic,

except to naive realists

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cue the forum "rationalists" to start wibbling about "conspiracy theories" and explain why scientists would never act like this, pharma execs also have families who get diabetes ... yadda yadda.

facts are corporations have their own imperatives independent of their employees.

and they are effectively immortal unlike their employees whose deaths from diabetes, cancer or whatever are assured and thereby of little long-term consequence.

i would have thought all this was axiomatic,

except to naive realists

Corporations are essentially sociopathic, but still part of the human eco-system, when the shareholders get ill and die as well. You don't think people suffering from chronic and terminal illnesses wouldn't shell out lots of money to save themselves? Johnny Mnemonic, awful film that it was, had a point about the problem of unscrupulous meditech companies suppressing a cure (with a evil company having its offices getting burned to the ground in the climax, after its conspiracy was blown).

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Yes I am a big pharma shill, but honestly if there is some miracle breakthrough for curing a disease then someone will do something about it. These kind of early promising signals can mostly lead nowhere exciting in the end.

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Faustman and her colleagues at Massachusetts General inBoston are working to get the vaccine to market. After their early findings in studies with mice, she said they tried to interest every major drugmaker in developing the vaccine as a possible cure for diabetes. All told her there wasn’t enough money to be made in a cure that used an inexpensive, generically available vaccine, Faustman said.

Got it?

It's not about people or health.

It's about money.

It's a 90 year old generic vaccine, the company can't patent it. A company could invest the money in proving that it works (or doesn't) but if they did then it would be the other manufacturers that would benefit.

Presumably charity or government funding would be the route to go down.

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Yes I am a big pharma shill, but honestly if there is some miracle breakthrough for curing a disease then someone will do something about it. These kind of early promising signals can mostly lead nowhere exciting in the end.

it's not about the desires or motivations of individuals but business imperatives, so to speak of shills and conspiracies is really missing the point (naive?)

it's rather like the way that the BBC is a blatant propaganda conduit despite most of its journalists being convinced that they are somehow independent.

i don't think it happens on a conscious level.

fish have no concept of water.

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it's not about the desires or motivations of individuals but business imperatives, so to speak of shills and conspiracies is really missing the point (naive?)

it's rather like the way that the BBC is a blatant propaganda conduit despite most of its journalists being convinced that they are somehow independent.

i don't think it happens on a concious level.

fish have no concept of water.

The old structure vs agency ding dong.

Personally, I choose both. Structural analysis can explain most of what goes on but doesn't preclude shenanigans on the part of knowing agents on top.

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Guest eight

Corporations are essentially sociopathic, but still part of the human eco-system, when the shareholders get ill and die as well. You don't think people suffering from chronic and terminal illnesses wouldn't shell out lots of money to save themselves? Johnny Mnemonic, awful film that it was, had a point about the problem of unscrupulous meditech companies suppressing a cure (with a evil company having its offices getting burned to the ground in the climax, after its conspiracy was blown).

No point watching that now.

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Yes I am a big pharma shill, but honestly if there is some miracle breakthrough for curing a disease then someone will do something about it. These kind of early promising signals can mostly lead nowhere exciting in the end.

Indeed. "Breakthroughs" often seem to occur in time for the next round of funding or financial results.

For me, this is a reason why we need a diversity of economic approaches. In this particular case, it's easy to imagine a south American vaguely "socialist" economy taking the ball and running with it - especially if they have a growing Type 1 diabetes problem. Conversely, you can imagine work with immediate, but expensive, commercial applications becoming available quicker in a vaguely "capitalist" economy.

I do find it interesting why we demand cures for some diseases but put up with management of others. Some of this is undoubtedly due to the limits of current science, but I'm not sure that's true in every case.

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Okay, so I invent a cure for a disease. My competitors and I are all currently selling treatments for symptoms. If I sell my cure I will be able to charge more for a dose than I could charge for a lifetime course of treatments for symptoms because people will prefer to be cured and it is cheaper for healthcare providers like the NHS to deliver a single dose, plus I will take all of my competitors' business as I am the only one with the cure.

Please explain why I have no incentive to take my cure to market.

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Indeed. "Breakthroughs" often seem to occur in time for the next round of funding or financial results.

Link?

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It's a 90 year old generic vaccine, the company can't patent it.

Wrong. You can patent a new use for an old drug.

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By the way, if you want to talk about conflicts of interest, consider the fact that Denise Faustman is trying to raise tens of millions of dollars to fund her research work. This money pays her salary. She has a financial incentive for telling you that she has a miracle cure...

http://www.faustmanlab.org/support/support.html

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Okay, so I invent a cure for a disease. My competitors and I are all currently selling treatments for symptoms. If I sell my cure I will be able to charge more for a dose than I could charge for a lifetime course of treatments for symptoms because people will prefer to be cured and it is cheaper for healthcare providers like the NHS to deliver a single dose, plus I will take all of my competitors' business as I am the only one with the cure.

Please explain why I have no incentive to take my cure to market.

What if you discover a cure that can't be patented/ marketed at a premium?

What would you do then?

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Okay, so I invent a cure for a disease. My competitors and I are all currently selling treatments for symptoms. If I sell my cure I will be able to charge more for a dose than I could charge for a lifetime course of treatments for symptoms because people will prefer to be cured and it is cheaper for healthcare providers like the NHS to deliver a single dose, plus I will take all of my competitors' business as I am the only one with the cure.

Please explain why I have no incentive to take my cure to market.

Unpatentable Drugs and the Standards of Patentability

http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1127742

the bigger question is why the introduction of a socilally useful and cheap to manufacture treatment should depend on any company's bottom line.

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What if you discover a cure that can't be patented/ marketed at a premium?

What would you do then?

There is no point in answering such a hypothetical question without first knowing whether it could actually happen. Firstly, patent law is very broad and would protect a new application of an old drug. Secondly, if you had a cure for a serious illness, why wouldn't you be able to charge a premium price for it?

So many people seem to think there is this huge loophole in patent law and drug sales, so where is it?

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By the way, there are plenty of drugs which continue to be manufactured and sold without patent protection. Ever heard of ibuprofen?

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Unpatentable Drugs and the Standards of Patentability

http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1127742

A link to a 68 page PDF is not particularly useful.

the bigger question is why the introduction of a socilally useful and cheap to manufacture treatment should depend on any company's bottom line.

If a drug is socially useful then healthcare providers like the NHS will demand it. The company's bottom line is just the market's way of figuring out whether the demand is high enough for it to be worth committing resources to providing the product or whether other projects represent a more efficient use of resources.

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