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the best drugs?
Apr 26, 2003

how can we ever beat this damn virus if the drug companies refuse to work with anything they cant patent??? they will only pay attention to something that will bring great financial returns (obviously). so what the fuck does this tell us dr.? it tells us that hiv is big business, and thats all it is. as long as their drugs pass the fda regulations and they improve life span in hivers, that justifies their money making machines. of course they would prefer a drug that is marginally beneficial to the patient and greatly beneficial to their pockets than it be the converse. i know you won't pretend thats not the case, because the minute u do, u lose all credibility with your audience here who logs on to thebody daily. what do u have to say about this??

Response from Dr. Wohl

Courting peril and risking whatever credibility I may currently have, I will respond by saying, I agree with some of what you write but wonder why this is so shocking to you.

Drug companies ARE foremost motivated by profit (file this in the 'duh' category - that's what companies are created to do, earn profit). A drug (read: product) with limited use (read: market) is unlikely to get industry to start licking its capitalist chops - that is unless the small group of patients (read: customers) desiring the agent is willing to pay some big bucks. This comes as no surprise. These are for-profit organizations, not Mother Teresa's order of nuns.

What the companies largely do, though, is what the system is supposed to do. The identify markets and try to supply them with their products. A million patients with HIV in the US needing HIV drugs, a few million more in other developed nations, and the pharmas compete with one another to offer the best drugs to saturate this market. Viva Adam Smith!

This competition is what gave us nevirapine AND efavirez, nelfinavir AND Kaletra, AZT AND tenofovir. If it was left to a government run monopoly to fight this epidemic would we really have almost 2 dozen drugs to treat HIV, drugs that increase survival and quality of life, let alone the 'C' drug (C for cure)? Only the naive would think so.

Of course, you will say that the companies are so invested in their suboptimal products to release a cure that you almost certainly suspect they have locked up in some vault. Well, I am not a big conspiracy theorist but am not the least cynical guy around either. But, I see how these companies battle one another, how much effort and money they spend to be number one. I also see a huge boon to the corporation that comes along with the elixir that will do what we all want it to - rid the body of HIV. We are not talking just a market share of those with low CD4 counts. No siree, we are talking 40 million people and climbing. Daily. Just picture the ads for all future products this company sells, "brought to you by the good people who brought you the cure for AIDS".

Are the companies too greedy? Do they have an obligation as members of their communities and partners in healthcare to provide their medicines to those who need them but can not afford them? Do they all need to be more honest and forthcoming about the negative effects of their products - according to my own sensibilities, yes, yes and yes. On these points we must continue to hold companies accountable.

The world is a cruel place at times (maybe most of the time). But, in my heart of hearts, I think these companies and their colleagues in academia are the best hope we have of getting to a cure. DW

Another Q for DR. Wohl
Africa: HIV or AIDS

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