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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 19155

Warning: This library includes all items relevant to health product marketing that we are aware of regardless of quality. Often we do not agree with all or part of the contents.


Publication type: Journal Article

Debnath B, Al-Mawsawi LQ, Neamati N
Are we living in the end of the blockbuster drug era?
Drug News Perspect 2010 Dec; 23:(10):670-84


For the last two decades, we have
seen remarkable growth in the
pharmaceutical industry. This growth
has mainly been due to the
approximately 100 new blockbuster
drugs, such as Lipitor®
(atorvastatin) and Plavix®
(clopidogrel). More than half of the
revenue of major pharmaceutical
companies and above one-third of the
total pharmaceutical revenues came
from the sales of these blockbuster
drugs. Questions concerning the fate
of these blockbuster drugs are
beginning to surface as they are
approaching their patent expiration
dates, and as they are expected to
face significant competition from
generic versions. Branded drugs with
more than USD 120 billion in sales
(as of 2008) are expected to lose
their patent protection in the next
3 to 4 years, while the less
expensive generic versions are ready
to enter the market. It is plausible
that a major paradigm shift in our
thinking is needed to stay
innovative, competitive and
economically feasible in this new
era of drug development. A new wave
of innovations is expected to boost
the blockbuster regime. Herein, we
discuss the different threats facing
the branded monopoly, as well as
some of the hopeful expectations for
the blockbuster drug.


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Far too large a section of the treatment of disease is to-day controlled by the big manufacturing pharmacists, who have enslaved us in a plausible pseudo-science...
The blind faith which some men have in medicines illustrates too often the greatest of all human capacities - the capacity for self deception...
Some one will say, Is this all your science has to tell us? Is this the outcome of decades of good clinical work, of patient study of the disease, of anxious trial in such good faith of so many drugs? Give us back the childlike trust of the fathers in antimony and in the lancet rather than this cold nihilism. Not at all! Let us accept the truth, however unpleasant it may be, and with the death rate staring us in the face, let us not be deceived with vain fancies...
we need a stern, iconoclastic spirit which leads, not to nihilism, but to an active skepticism - not the passive skepticism, born of despair, but the active skepticism born of a knowledge that recognizes its limitations and knows full well that only in this attitude of mind can true progress be made.
- William Osler 1909