Clinton’s proposed ban on pay-for-delay deals would do little to lower drug prices

By Dr Farasat Bokhari

This article originally appeared in STAT on 28th September 2016.

Banning “pay-for-delay” deals that postpone the production of less-expensive generic drugs is a key action point in Hillary Clinton’s comprehensive plan to lower prescription drug costs. Eliminating these deals, she says, could save Americans billions of dollars on medications. But an even more productive strategy would be to stop drug makers from producing so-called authorized generics. (I tried to examine Donald Trump’s thoughts on this issue. While his website says he will remove “barriers to entry into free markets for drug providers,” no details are provided and no mention is made of pay-for-delay deals.)

A patent on a new therapeutic molecule is granted for 20 years, though its validity can be challenged at any time. Much of that 20-year window is often spent formulating the drug and testing it in animal studies and clinical trials. Acknowledging this delay, the Hatch-Waxman Act provides an incentive for drug development by granting the patent holder five years of market exclusivity during which no competitor can file to produce a generic variant. Not surprisingly, the price of the drug is high during this period.

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Why have Mylan launched a generic EpiPen?

By Dr Farasat Bokhari

In a new development surrounding the controversy of price hikes of Mylan’s lifesaving drug EpiPen, the manufacturer announced that it will introduce a generic version, and sell the new drug at half the price of its branded version. Mylan has increased the price of its EpiPen injections from about $100 in 2009 to over $600 this year and will sell the generic at $300, and has come under scrutiny and strong criticism from public and government officials alike.  Mylan are not alone in increasing drug prices in recent times. For instance, Martin Shkreli increased the price of Daraprim by 5000 percent in 2015. However, that was to do with a hit-and-run opportunity that arose out of its orphan drug status, and the speed with which a rival generic could gain approval to enter the market (see my earlier post, ‘The Economics of a $750 Pill’).

Leaving aside the issue that the generic is still three times more expensive than the original 2009 price, this announcement has left some puzzling over why, or rather how, such a move makes any sense.  To paraphrase the incredulity expressed by Richard Quest of CNN, why would anyone pay $600 for a drug when the exact same product by the same company is also available for $300?  How does Mylan stand to gain anything from this move?

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Higher Education and Brexit: It is not just about the money

By Dr Fabio Aricò

The media and the press have bashed us with endless sequences of statistics and figures about the loss of fee revenues and research funding universities would incur as the result of a Brexit. There is no doubt that this is a real threat for the health of the British Higher Education system, but when thinking education we should not focus exclusively on money matters: quality is the real concern. I am an immigrant academic, who had to compete to secure an academic job in the UK. More than that, I am the teacher of a large and internationally diverse group of students, and I can appreciate the benefits of working in an internationalised campus environment. In this post I will argue that competition among academics, and diversity within the student population, are the key determinants of quality and excellence of the British Higher Education system. Brexit is a threat to such excellence, and here are the reasons why.

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Will a Brexit Lead to a “Scotxit” (Scotland leaving the UK)?

By Dr Anders Poulsen

I believe this is likely, in part because of the simple calculus of cost benefit analysis that may favour Scotland leaving the United Kingdom, but in part also because the EU may offer such favourable terms to Scotland to join them, not necessarily because it makes economic sense for the EU to do so, but because punishment is a behavioural phenomenon that we often see in our experiments.  I explain these below.

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Where has all the research (money) gone?

By Dr Christa Brunnschweiler

I’ve been following the discussion of the various costs (or benefits) for the UK of leaving the EU for a while now. I follow them as a not entirely disinterested outsider: I am not eligible to vote in the upcoming referendum on 23 June, but I am a citizen of another European country and can expect to be affected by the vote’s outcome.

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Drug prices post-Brexit – an expensive pill to swallow?

by  Dr Farasat Bokhari

Much has already been written about the potential effects of Brexit on both the British economy as well as the rest of the world, vis-à-vis effects on immigration, employment, wages, inflation, investment, growth and so forth, and by now we know that either the sky is going to fall or it will be like manna falling from the sky.  Definitely one of those two.  Reality however is a bit more nuanced, and what follows may be sector specific and depend on the regulations and terms that are negotiated upon exit.  Post exit, will the UK be on its own in terms of trade agreements with the rest of the world, or will it, like Norway, be able to enjoy benefits of a single market by entering into European Economic Area (EEA)? Not to be gauche, how does it affect the price of my medicines here in the UK?   While the Farage v. Cameron debate rages on, in this blog I give example from just one sector – pharmaceuticals – to discuss how prices of branded drugs, which include new and important therapies, may increase due to various trade agreements post Brexit.

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Posh and Brex

By Dr David Hugh-Jones

Like everything in Britain, the Brexit debate is all about class. Riffing off Nancy Mitford’s famous distinction between “U” (posh) and “non-U” (vulgar), Harry Mount in the Sunday Times[1] divided the voters up into “EU” and “non-EU”. There’s the sophisticated, well-travelled, culturally open remainers. Then there’s the salt-of-the-earth Brexiteers, who get regarded a bit like the citizens of Rock Ridge in Blazing Saddles: “just simple farmers. These are people of the land. The common clay of the new West. You know… morons.”

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