The Cure of Diabetes Type 1 v.s. the Pharmaceutical Industry
Dr. Denise Faustman has, since 2001, cured Diabetes Type 1 in lab studies. Human trials have followed (Phase 1), and the results are very promising. Source: http://www.faustmanlab.org/research/research_ap.html
Still, the pharmaceutical companies refuse to give funding for continuing trials needed to comply with the strict standards set by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). Normally funding for research is broken down roughly as follows:
10% is funded by government
20% is funded by universities
66% is funded by drug groups
4% is funded by charity organizations
As you can see, the lion's share is funded by pharmaceuticals. Of the dozens of research projects listed in the US National Institutes of Health list of clinical studies, Dr. Faustman's clinical trials (Phase 1) are clearly showing the funding agencies are only the Iacocca Fund (a philanthropic organization) and private donors. Source: http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT00607230?term=bcg+diabetes&rank=1
Why then, would the pharmaceuticals fund so many research projects on continuous therapy, rather than on finding a cure? It's odd something that could eliminate so much suffering and could lead to so much social benefit is being ignored by both government and industry.
PATENTS EQUAL PROFITS
It's not odd at all. Pharmaceuticals make the most profit on drugs that have a patent. A patent gives sole rights of production and sales to the holder of the patent. Once the patent expires, the formula becomes available to generic companies, reducing the cost due to competitive pricing. Drug companies go to great lengths to extend the patent date, or to create another patent by changing the formula slightly, called 'evergreening.' Also, if an older generic drug is found to be of use in a new way, there is no incentive to test it as there will be no profits. Such is the case with BCG (Bacillus Calmette Guerin), a generic drug, developed in 1921 that was used to cure tuberculosis, the same drug that Dr. Faustman is using to cure Diabetes type 1.
Source: http://www.docstoc.com/docs/69204503/An-Efficient-Reward-System-for-Pharmaceutical-Innovation pages 5-10. Thus, there is no commercial incentive for pharmaceuticals to sponsor testing for old drugs whose patent has run out.
But surely you say, if there is a cure for such a pernicious disease as Diabetes Type 1, wouldn't a compassionate society, as the west purports to be, jump on the chance of a cure? Sadly, that is not the case. There is another reason that pharmaceuticals would lose out if a cure for Diabetes type 1 is found.
If the drug companies make money with a pioneer patented drug, then why, you say, don't the drug companies produce and test a new drug similar to BCG, but slightly different (evergreening) so they could still have a patent on it? The answer is that profits made from the diabetes industry, over time, would far surpass any profits from a final cure for millions of diabetics the world over. In other words, ongoing treatment sells more drugs and items than would just the cure itself.
There are different estimates of the diabetic industry. Some estimate it to be $16-17 billion for Diabetes type 1, and this estimate is for the US alone! Source:
http://www.thebostonchannel.com/health/24300685/detail.html and http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2901386/
Can you imagine the costs worldwide? Costs are listed in terms of direct costs, but there are also additional indirect costs of disability, work loss, and premature mortality.
But surely, you say, the authorities would realize our pain at being diabetic and come to the rescue if they could? Certainly you and I would, as we or our loved ones suffer every day with this debilitating, restrictive disease. We know first hand the unpredictability and the limitations that this disease burdens us with, as well as the health risks. Why wouldn't a cure be funded, but countless ways to maintain the disease, in order to sell products are? Economics must not win out over the benefits to society that a cure can bring. These studies must be recognized, publicized, and not swept under the rug.
The most important thing you can do to help the Faustman project is to be aware of it, and follow to see that Phase II is completed, published, and implemented. Also, it's important that as much media attention as possible be given to this project, so more people have the opportunity to donate. Please don't think that, as a group, we are powerless in this regard.