The Price of Innovating Drugs

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The price of drugs and innovation into cures are inextricably linked. The subject of drug affordability and attainability is undoubtedly fraught with emotion.

The high price that drugs are often sold for means that they are only available to those who have the capital to afford them. In countries where healthcare systems are government led such as the NHS, if a drug is deemed as too expensive, less effective and cheaper options are often used in its place. This allows for costs to be spread throughout the healthcare service.

However, the high price of drugs can be justified. The higher the price that drugs are sold for, the more money available to scientists to keep making new discoveries and forging ahead with possible cures.

John LaMattina, a contributor in Forbes Pharma and Healthcare explains that “revenues from new drugs drive innovation. The pharmaceutical industry invests more of its top line earnings into research and development than any other industry – roughly 15%.”

The process of creating new drugs can take years and developments often have many failures before they are ready to go to market. It has been claimed that up to 80% of new drugs are abandoned at some point during inception.

Due to this uncertainty, pharmaceutical companies must tread a fine line between making a return on investment to maintain a financially viable company and continuing to use their profits to fund research, or they risk going under.

Therefore, pharmaceutical companies can only help people benefit from advancements if we pay now for future rewards. Put another way, if we do not pay the higher prices for innovation now, it could mean the difference between living in a world with devastating diseases such as cancer, and living in a world without.

Posted on December 11, 2015

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