As a very active Alzheimer’s Advocate, I scour the Interweb daily looking for glimmers of hope. Whether it be stories of overcoming adversity, the possibility of new drugs that will help people instead of mice or humorous moments, I try to take in the positive.
With that in mind, I came across a story this morning entitled, “Eli Lilly’s big Alzheimer’s bet: Blockbuster or bust?” I thought, “here’s that glimmer of hope I’m always looking for,” but as I started reading, my heart sank. I should have noticed the story was written by NEW YORK (CNNMoney) but I was too involved in the hope that the story was going to be centered around an Alzheimer’s breakthrough.
Although I have Early Onset Alzheimer’s, I still have the comprehension that company’s need to make money to succeed. I get it.
The story started out on a positive note:
Drugmakers are facing an enormous problem — and a huge opportunity — and Eli Lilly is helping lead that high-stakes race. The pharma giant has made an expensive bet on an experimental drug that could be the first marketed treatment to slow the worsening of Alzheimer’s. That would represent a critical medical breakthrough known as “disease modification.”
I was getting excited but my mood quickly turned. The article became more about how much money Eli Lilly would make rather than how much the new drug would help people with Alzheimer’s.
“It would absolutely be a multibillion dollar blockbuster,”
“The drug companies are willing to spend a lot of money on such a speculative, expensive trial because the market opportunity is massive. The numbers are staggering,”
“Blockbuster sales possible: If the Alzheimer’s drug is successful, BMO estimates Eli Lilly could generate risk-adjusted global sales of $7.6 billion by 2024. That would make investors quickly put aside Eli Lilly’s struggles to turn the page on older blockbuster drugs whose patents have already expired.”
“Pharma companies are looking at Alzheimer’s disease because they recognize this will be one of the biggest biopharma markets of our lifetime by virtue of demographics,”
Jonas Salk wasn’t thinking about how much money he could make when he discovered the Polio cure.
When Edward R. Murrow asked Jonas Salk who owned the patent to the polio vaccine. “Well, the people, I would say,” Salk responded. “There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?”
One critic of the big pharma called Salk “the foster parent of children around the world with no thought of the money he could make by withholding the vaccine from the children of the poor.”
Where are the Jonas Salk’s of today?
I understand research costs money but it has now become a matter of “how much money will we make?” rather than “how many people will we be able to cure?” It’s so very sad.
Oddsmakers are giving Eli Lilly’s drug a 60% chance of success and believes it could meaningfully boost the company’s profit margins. If the statement would have ended after “chance of success” it would’ve been a great statement. Adding on the rest just proves the point that is really is all about the money.
Others are far more skeptical, putting the chances that either Biogen or Eli Lilly brings an Alzheimer’s drug to market at just 15%.
In the end, the only statement that I found truth in, but at the same time, sadness, was “In terms of drug development, nothing has worked. It’s been one failure after the next.”
I Have Alzheimer’s, BUT Alzheimer’s Doesn’t Have Me!
Until Next Time . . .