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Health Savings Accounts to the Rescue . . . not

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Jan 20, 2001
^^ That's kinda my point. I'm not anti-capitalism but I'm definitely opposed to legalized robbery.

Merck's patent for Zocor (one of the top selling drugs EVAR!) came to an end this year. Normally, Big Pharma extends patents by lawsuit. When that strategy plays out they then get an 'authorized' generic manufacturer so Big Pharma can still get a cut (without doing any work) on top of the continued profits from people stupid enough to continue buying the brand.

MRK did something totally out of the box. They priced Zocor BELOW Teva's generic version. The cynic says they did it to piss off Teva. But it's actually a shrewd business move. MRK will still make money even after cutting the price by a load. MRK has their highly advertised drug Vytorin which is actually a combination of Zocor and a drug called Zetia. Naturally, MRK's angle is to get doctors to continue to prescribe Zocor and if patients need more . . . just shift them over to Vytorin.

Personally and professionally, I have no problem with MRK's behavior. It's good business but there's nothing really corrupting about it. Generic manufacturers can still make and sell the drug at profit b/c MRK isn't 'dumping' drug on the market.

Don't even get me started on the orphan drug rules. That's become the prototypical 'how government fudges up even a good idea' . . .


Diamond Member
Mar 2, 2003
I know this is OT but may be part of the HSA concept.

Orphan and Exotic Drugs

I think the law was passed in 1983 and I think the criteria is 200,000 patients needing the drug for Orphan status.

20 year patents is OK by me... lifetime is too. But what isn't are the tax incentives to the drug mfg... and a few other little know diddies.. like just what the drug mfg want to have orphanized.... splinter removal devices... hehehehe

Not exactly sure if the below is current law.. but i think it is..

"Because the Orphan Drug Act provides substantial tax benefits and exclusive marketing protection, the pharmaceutical industry has considerable incentives to ask for new FDA orphan designations. Under the current law, obtaining an orphan designation is easy. The Act does not require any consideration of a drug's economics. The Act requires only that the drug be used to treat a disease with a client population less than 200,000. The way the arithmetic is done, 200,000 is a large number. For example, an estimated 6.8 million Americans suffer from cancer, but under the Orphan Drug Act a firm can distinguish particular types of cancer for designation. For example, ovarian cancer, which is the fifth-leading cause of death among women victims of cancer, has an estimated client population of 164,000, well under the 200,000 limit."

for interested parties
It is where the Universities ought to be much more heavily involved in the research and development under federal grants. Lets make Ph.D.'s earn their keep.. I think only clinical tests are grant aided atm.. and not pure research in university but that may be in conjunction with clinical trials. :D

Although brains exist in the Chem Labs of Big Pharm.. I think for every disease that screams for a pill there is a grant that could be had to mitigate the front end cost and then pass it on to the manufacturing folks as part of a 'humanitarian' production thingi.. Snake venom type stuff.. I think the price the Mfg gets to charge for their product should be break even.. direct cost only..

edit: OK.. sometimes a drug company can trip over a substance that can treat an otherwise orphan drug needing patient... in that case.. they can get exclusivity as well.. with out having to 'bid' if that were the case.. or claim divine intervention... hehe

Jack Klugman's Quincy did more for Orphan drugs than anything imo