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What We're Reading: Drug Development No Faster Than 20 Years Ago


What we're reading, January 11, 2017: in the last 2 decades, the drug pipeline hasn't gotten any faster; smoking and its side effects cost world economies $1 trillion; and Maryland introduces 2 bills aimed at curbing drug prices.

Since the 1990s, the drug pipeline has not gotten any faster. A new report analyzed 667 new drugs and found that the pace of drug development has been stagnant. The average drug takes 12 years to launch after the patent is filed, and the report lays out 2 reasons why this hasn’t changed. The fact that the pipeline hasn’t sped up and that the length of patent exclusivity has dropped have both contributed to why drug prices are soaring.

Smoking and its side effects kill about 6 million people annually, and that number is expected to increase by one-third by 2030. According to The Washington Post, a new report found that the cost of smoking and its side effects is estimated at more than $1 trillion, and the loss to world economies far exceeds the $269 billion generated through tobacco taxes. Smoking is already one of the largest causes of preventable deaths, and it has the potential to become not just a global health issue, but also an economic one.

Lawmakers in Maryland have introduced a pair of bills to help curb rising drug prices. The bills force companies to explain price increases and allow for legal action in response to possible price gouging, reported the Baltimore Sun. The pharmaceutical industry is pushing back, claiming that the bills would require them to release trade secrets. Vermont has a similar law that requires pricing information for expensive drugs, but Maryland is the only state that would allow for legal action in the case of large price increases that could be considered gouging consumers.

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