JAN 12, 2016 11:16 AM PST

Big Pharma and Drug Prices: Where

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

The pharmaceutical industry, also known as "big pharma," is often demonized for exacting huge costs on life-saving drugs. Case in point, in September 2015, Turing Pharmaceuticals changed the price of a drug, Daraprim, from $13.50 to a whopping $750 per tablet. Though this overnight price increase was later rescinded due to overwhelming public pressure, the incident reminded us all that medicine doesn't come cheap. This is true even if personal greed and wealth aren't part of the picture. Ever wonder why it costs so much?

A study by the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development estimated that it costs a mind-numbing $2.6 billion to get a drug from an idea to a marketable reality. While this number has been scrutinized for being inflated, no one can argue that every step of the drug development pipeline is costly.

For a drug to be successful, the manufacturer has to demonstrate with rigorous testing that the drug is safe and effective. This journey takes many trials and even more errors. Of every 25,000 compounds that are screened as potential drugs, only 25 make it to clinical trials - a mere 0.001 success rate. And of the 25 drugs in clinical trials, less than 5 will receive FDA approval for marketing.

So does this justify the expensive price tag on medicines? Maybe the answer isn't as clear-cut as the pharmaceutical industry would have us believe. Watch the video and perhaps you can form your own conclusions.
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
DEC 08, 2019
Space & Astronomy
DEC 08, 2019
NASA's Parker Solar Probe Reveals Telling Clues About Our Sun
NASA’s Parker Solar Probe is currently the closest spacecraft to the Sun today. Being this close gives the spacecraft an unprecedented opportunity to...
JAN 05, 2020
Space & Astronomy
JAN 05, 2020
It's Finally the Year of the Mars 2020 Mission
It’s officially 2020, and with that in mind, anyone paying attention to NASA’s launch schedule should know already that the Mars 2020 rover is...
JAN 06, 2020
Plants & Animals
JAN 06, 2020
Every River Leap a Proboscis Monkey Makes Could be its Last
Leaves are one of the most essential components of a proboscis monkey’s diet, and in some cases, getting to the tastiest leaves means taking an enorm...
JAN 08, 2020
Health & Medicine
JAN 08, 2020
Cancer Death Rates Declining in U.S., According to New Report
In the United States, the death rate from cancer has declined, according to a new report released today by the American Cancer Society. The video below sum...
JAN 09, 2020
Earth & The Environment
JAN 09, 2020
Australian Bushfire Update
Devastating wildfires continue to ravage the continent of Australia. The report from BBC News below, which aired earlier this week, gives an encompassing u...
FEB 02, 2020
Plants & Animals
FEB 02, 2020
These Fish Beach Themselves When it Comes Time to Mate
Most fish probably cringe at the idea of beaching themselves on purpose, especially since they can’t breathe out of water. But this is something that...
Loading Comments...