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Commentary

In praise of Big Pharma's me-too drugs.
John Gapper, Financial Times, 12-2-04

There is probably no such thing as a me-too drug: even among the class of Cox-2 inhibitors different drugs have different benefit profiles (and risks) for individual patients. This means that doctors or the government can’t take a whole class of drugs and say which one is “best” for everyone, because any given drug may still not work for a substantial minority of patients.

The moral we should take from this lesson is that competition and variety is good for health care, especially for the evolving field of personalized medicine, where physicians will someday be able to offer the right drug, to the right patient, at the right dose, at the right time. Companies will have to adapt to this new reality by identifying high responder groups, and patients at high risk for adverse events throughout the drug discovery and marketing process.

This may mean that few (if any) drugs in the future will be prescribed ad hoc to tens of millions of patients the way some are now, but companies will be able to market treatments to “niche” populations with confidence that their treatments work and are worth every penny paid by consumers and insurers.



Project FDA.
  
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