Can a drug company make billions of dollars with a daily pill that costs only 12 bucks a year?
It’s getting hard to sell a miracle drug these days.
In the e-Alert “Miracle Mayhem” (10/16/08), I told you about the reemergence of the polypill – the four-drugs-in-one heart disease preventive pill that combines a statin, aspirin, an ACE inhibitor, and a diuretic.
But here’s something polypill designers didn’t count on: The drug industry wants nothing to do with their miracle pill.
The Guardian reports that a daunting list of side effects is not the polypill’s biggest problem. It’s the cost.
Now you might think, “Four-drugs-in-one, and one of them is a statin? That’s going to cost you plenty.” But you’d be wrong. The anticipated cost of the polypill is about $1 per month.
I had to check that twice to make sure. And it’s true. One dollar for a 30-day supply.
If that sounds absurdly low, you’re right. And that’s what drug company executives are thinking too. And that’s why they want nothing to do with the polypill. How can you make billions of dollars on a daily pill that costs only 12 bucks a year?
You can’t, of course. So that’s why the UK team behind the polypill was forced to raise funding from the British Heart Foundation and the Wellcome Trust to mount a trial that they hope will include at least 5,000 subjects. The trial is scheduled to begin at the end of next year.
If I were a betting woman, I’d go all-in and put my chips on the square marked “Not gonna happen.” The chance that the polypill might succeed just seems too farfetched. But if the trial is even the least bit successful, I expect that a few governments, in a do-gooder spirit, will fund the worldwide distribution of the miracle polypill.
And THEN drug companies will sit up and take notice. Just think of all those side effects that will need to be treated!
“Tests Start on Pill That Could Lengthen Millions of Lives” Sarah Boseley, The Guardian, 9/29/08, guardian.co.uk