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Trust Busting
Abbott, Trimeris/Roche Pricing Decisions Rekindle Old R&D Cost Questions

May 2004

R&D Costs, Unplugged

Estimates of R&D Costs Incurred to Develop and Bring to Market the Following Protease Inhibitors

DrugR&D Estimate (Millions)Source
Invirase<$100Interviews
Norvir<$100J. Leonard
Crixivan$312*Internal memos
Viracept$150SEC docs.
Agenerase<$200SEC docs.
* Goozner's estimate of Merck's total investment in HIV research up to Crixivan licensure is $623M.

Source: Merrill Goozner, "The $800 Million Pill," (Univ. California Press, 2004)



A Generic Ritonavir on the Horizon

Subsequent to the release of a provocative new book by Chicago Tribune business correspondent Merrill Goozner (the book is titled "The $800 Million Dollar Pill: The Truth Behind the Cost of New Drugs") TAGline decided to check in with cross-town treatment writer and fellow muckraker, one Robert Huff, to get his take on Goozner's new math.

After dozens of interviews, with the likes of Bob Yarchoan, Dale Kempf, Larry Corey, Whaijen Soo, Mickey Salgo, Dan Hoth, John Leonard, Emilio Emini, (the list goes on ...), Goozner concludes, perhaps predictably, that the true research and development cost of new drugs -- and the inhibitors of HIV protease in particular -- comes nowhere near the famed 2001 Tufts University Center for the Study of Drug Development figure of $802 million (see table above). But, alas, Dr. Huff was on his way to a glitzy California GSK retreat and even a little prematurely frazzled by impending preparations for a May 25 appearance before an NIH public hearing. Would the Norvir patent be revoked by a kind of governmental lèse majesté? Custodial contempt? It's the David of Essential Innovations vs. the usual Goliaths. Stay tuned.


Back to the TAGline May 2004 contents page.




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