The End of Cancer (As We Know It)

Justin Mason jm at
Mon Jul 14 12:50:02 PDT 2003

Tom writes:
>On Mon, 14 Jul 2003, James Rogers wrote:
>--]condition.  I'm optimistic, assuming the government doesn't do something stupid
>--]to muddle up the progress.
>Given the state of regulation and gov intervention on health care Ill
>probably be seated next to you on a flight out to Chiba City for a quick
>weekend in the vats.

FWIW, this already exists -- I've talked to quite a few people who've
visited Bangkok for good access to cheap, luxurious healthcare ;)   Need a
quick op, but couldn't be bothered spending lots of $$$?  Fancy a tropical
holiday into the bargain?  Go to Thailand!  (cue sex change/ladyboy jokes)

BTW, the "we need this money for R&D" line from the drug companies is a
canard.  Talking to (academic) biotech people here and in Ireland, much of
the real R&D is still happening in academia -- *not* in the big drug
company labs.  (but then they would say that ;)

One thing's for sure: they're making money.  Take a look at this data from
a recent episode of Frontline:

  + How profitable is the pharmaceutical industry?

  The pharmaceutical industry is one of the most profitable business
  sectors. In 2002, Fortune 500 drug companies made profits of 18.5 percent
  profit, while the median profitablity of all Fortune 500 companies was
  around 3 percent. The industry maintains that these high profits are
  needed to continue the very expensive, high risk development of new drugs.

  + What percentage of industry revenue is spent on R&D? How much is spent
  on marketing and advertising?

  Uwe Reinhardt, an economist who studies the U.S. health system, says that
  R&D accounts for about 13 percent of pharmaceutical companies' revenue.
  Twenty-eight percent, he says, is spent on manufacturing, packaging and
  quality control, and 13 to 15 percent on administration and marketing.

  Since companies are not compelled to make public a breakdown of their
  marketing and advertising costs (almost all companies combine
  administration and marketing costs), it's hard to pinpoint a figure for
  marketing expenditures. Industry spokesperson Marjorie Powell estimates
  that drug companies spent twice as much on R&D as on ads and marketing --
  roughly $15 billion in 2002 on advertising and marketing, and about $30
  billion on R&D.

  However, industry critic Marcia Angell reverses that ratio, estimating
  that the industry spends about twice as much on marketing as they do on
  research. She tells FRONTLINE, "by their own figures, over a third of
  their employees are in marketing. Not marketing administration, but
  marketing. So I think it's safe to conclude that somewhere on the order of
  30 percent -- over twice the R&D costs -- are marketing."


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