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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 20454

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

Tucker ME
Drug companies lobby against generic versions of biologics
BMJ 2013 Feb 4; 346:


Biotechnology companies have launched a lobbying initiative to try to stop or slow down the introduction of generic versions of expensive biological drugs. State legislatures across the United States are introducing bills that could make it more difficult for doctors to prescribe—and for patients to obtain—cheaper versions of the drugs.

Generic versions of biological drugs are known as biosimilars. The original versions of the biologics include drugs such as rituximab (marketed as Rituxan or MabThera), trastuzumab (Herceptin), and bevacizumab (Avastin). These are among the best selling anticancer drugs in the world. The drugs, which are produced in cell systems, are said to account for about 25% of the US annual drug bill of $320bn (£205bn; €235bn).

Like other generic drugs, biosimilars are designed to be cheaper versions of brand name drugs. But they are created by …


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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