Monday, July 17, 2006

Huber's "In Defense of Big Pharma"

At page 21, the July-August 2006 issue of Commentary has an article "Of Pills and Profits: In Defense of Big Pharma" by Peter W. Huber, written in part apparently to challenge some things in
a book by a certain ex-editor of NEJM (Marcia Angell)

The article even mentions "trolling," although not quite in the context used in "patent trolls:" an allegation that Big Pharma simply goes "trolling small companies all over the world for drugs to license."

Page 23 has the story of eflornithine / Vaniqa and the treatment of trypanosomiasis.

Page 24 gets into the use of an old drug for a new purpose, though it does not really get the patent issues right:

wrapping it in a new legal paper. Some green pills, indeed are not given a patent until they are turned lavender or pink.

One does NOT get a patent on the OLD composition (whether in green or lavender coating) but rather a NEW patent on a method of use of the old composition.

Page 26 brings up memories of "junk science:" Juries usually have no competence in the area and misinterpret science.

IPBiz wonders where Huber was when the district court judge in the Osram case used atomic numbers, rather than atomic weights, to perform stoichiometric calculations. Talking about "no competence" and "misinterpretation" ....

At page 27, Huber suggests patent laws are too porous to fend off me-too competitors.
Paragraph (iv) in Hatch-Waxman sets the standards for "me-too" competitors to challenge drug patents. If the competitor can show invalidity or noninfringement, the competitor wins. How is that too porous?

None of this is to say that Huber doesn't make valid points about Huber's "opponents." However, this is looking like a battle of anecdotes, somewhat like the current patent reform discussion.


The blog pharmagossip has some numbers for the advertising of drugs:

Top ten prescription drugs most heavily advertised to U.S. consumers in 2005:

1. Lunesta (Sepracor Inc.) $227.3 million

2. Nexium (AstraZeneca) $203.5 million

3. Vytorin (Merck/Schering-Plough) $161.5 million

4. Crestor (AstraZeneca) $155.9 million

5. Advair (GlaxoSmithKline) $137.5 million

6. Nasonex (Schering-Plough) $131.8 million

7. Ambien (Sanofi-Aventis SA) $129.8 million

8. Plavix (Sanofi-Aventis SA) $121.4 million

9. Singulair (Merck & Co.) $119.9 million

10. Wellbutrin (GlaxoSmith- Kline) $119.5 million

[IPBiz post 1790]


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