Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Drug price control and mutilated intestines

I just noticed this news report sent to me by a friend late last year. It's about a survey by an Irish research firm, RMI, comparing the pharma environment in the Asia Pacific. Its report said that out of 14 countries in the region, the Philippines ranked no. 10 in terms of "attractiveness" to more players.

I guess this is consistent with my initial observation that while there are 3 to 4 dozen innovator manufacturers serving the health needs of 9 million Swedish and 4+ million Finns, there are only 2 dozen multinational innovator pharma manufacturers serving 92+ million Filipinos. There are also a few Filipino-owned pharma companies, but all of them I think are generics producers, not a single one can be considered an innovator. Also with the new cheaper medicines law, there are plenty of new generic pharma companies sprouting up, both domestic and foreign.

But I think the survey focuses on the attractiveness of the Philippines and other Asia-Pacific countries in the eyes of the innovator companies, not the generics producers. Because the latter do not worry much about IPR protection. Besides, there are tens of thousands of them in Asia alone, not just dozens or a few hundreds in the case of innovators.

There are dozens of reasons too why people die. For instance, when people eat like a pig, have a body like a pig, then they are likely to develop hypertension- and heart-related diseases. Cheaper medicine is a secondary solution for them, but more of lifestyle change and preventive measures. Or when people drink high volume of alcohol every day, err every night, the chances of contracting various diseases from dilapidated liver to mutilated intestines, lungs and other internal organs are very high. Drug price control can perhaps lengthen their lives by a few months or years. But these people make their own lives cheaper and shorter, perhaps they are rushing to meet their creator more than us ordinary people. Aren't political interventions like drug price control interfering with their desire to live fast, die fast?

Another factor perhaps is that various diseases have evolved and mutated, like before they were just ordinary flu, now there are several types of flu -- cow flu, avian flu, wild cat flu (SARS), swine flu, etc. -- and we can expect new types tomorrow, like horse flu, goat flu, carabao flu, elephant flu, tiger flu, etc. When diseases evolve, medicines that can cure or kill those diseases should also evolve. When the A(H1N1) flu virus showed up, there was no existing medicine or vaccine that can kill the disease, so people use quarantine type of measures to minimize the spread of the disease, but not really kill it.

But with restrictive policies like drug price control, CL and related measures, if I am an innovator company with lots of successful and effective drugs to bring, I would think not twice but thrice, 10 times, before I enter a country that is more than willing to declare a price control to my new medicines. After all, I will be seen and regarded there as a blood-and-profit-hungry multinational pharma company. If I am already a suspected criminal long before I enter, why bother?

here's the news report I was referring to.


RP pharma market still faces risks

Written by Dennis Estopace / Reporter
Wednesday, 24 December 2008 23:28

THE Philippines’ pharmaceutical market remains less attractive in the Asia-Pacific region because of difficulties within the country’s intellectual property (IP) environment, an Internet-based research firm said.

This is one of three key drawbacks that Dublin, Ireland-based online Research and Markets Inc. (RMI) that will afflict the country’s pharmaceutical market in the next five years.

“Despite the considerable forecast annual growth, the Philippines continues to represent one of the less attractive pharmaceutical markets in the Asia-Pacific region,” RMI said in a statement released on Monday.

It added that of the 14 markets it surveyed in its business environment ranking, “the Philippines remains firmly rooted in 10th position.”

RMI said it forecasts the value of the Philippines’ pharmaceutical market to reach $4.09 billion in 2012, up from around $2.6 billion in 2007.

However, the difficult IP environment, modest overall market size and the expected increase in the uptake of generics would hobble the market, according to RMI.

Citing data from a September IMS Health presentation, RMI said that “sales of generic drugs in the Philippines [both branded and unbranded] are almost the same as patented products in some therapeutic categories.”...

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