Changes to public policy and new trends in innovation have many rethinking the fundamentals of the pharmaceutical industry.
Last month Gilead Sciences announced that its drug Sovaldi brought in a mammoth $3.5 billion in sales. The medicine completely cures people of hepatitis C but comes with a hefty price tag: $84,000, or roughly $1,000 per pill. This high-profile case brings up many of the challenging issues facing the pharmaceutical (including, for the purposes of this article, biotech) industry. Are some medicines simply too expensive to provide patients? Is public policy incentivizing the wrong types of research? And who is going to pay for such high-priced medicines? More broadly, what is the state of pharmaceutical innovation? Opinions vary, but the bottom line is that pharmaceutical companies are running up against rising costs, changes in innovation and payment structures, and cost-conscious generational trends.
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