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Commentary: Why new drugs cost so much
After visiting Merck’s research center in New Jersey, Mr. Murdock has answer: drug development is very hard and very expensive. As one researcher notes, “Of the 1,200 molecules tested here last year…eight went on to the next step. And not all of those will go on to become drugs.”
Take for instance, Merck’s thus far successful effort to create a vaccine to prevent the spread of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). HPV infects 50 to 75 percent of sexually active adults, causing cervical cancer, genital warts and other very unwholesome outcomes. Merck has spent hundreds of millions of dollars developing the vaccine and producing equipment to manufacture it. “If approved, the drug’s price will reflect, in part, this huge up-front investment.” But if the drug fails to get FDA approval Merck might as well have flushed its money down a toilet.
Activists and industry critics like to complain that drug development is fast, cheap, and easy – and that high drug prices are only the result of greedy corporations trying to line their pockets. Perhaps they should take the same tour Mr. Murdock did before they make such glib accusations.
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