How should CAR-T therapy be priced?

As with all things, we should be concerned with value, not price. Novartis’ pricing scheme easily passes the value test. There is no objective value that can be put on saving a life, of course. But we can still make estimates. Britain’s National Institute on Cost Effectiveness (NICE) evaluates treatments with respect to their value. Read More …

Is there any other organism than ourselves who can perform transactions (services or goods)?

Mutualism – the exchange of services or goods between one species and another – is the rule, not the exception, in biology. Few organisms – most certainly not humans – could exist in a biological desert devoid of all organisms but themselves. Plants produce oxygen that animals use to oxidize carbohydrates to produce carbon dioxide Read More …

Could God have created a universe where life started with an ingenious system we call RNA and DNA which would evolve to thrive in many environments, and into a being of sufficient thinking capability, to supply a soul?

This question is another version of an old and dishonest ploy used by creationists to try to trap scientists into admitting that there is a God. But the creationists are not nearly as clever as they believe themselves to be. Here’s how it works: Admit a few facts that science has established beyond all reasonable Read More …

If the microbiome affects our mood and well-being, why isn’t the gut-brain axis explored further by pharmaceuticals?

I’m sure they are. After all, the market for antidepressant drugs is over $15B[1] , so there is a lot of money to be made here. But it won’t be easy. And if you think about the process of drug discovery, you’ll see why. Some drugs are indeed discovered fortuitously. The discovery of penicillin is Read More …

What evolutionary purpose does the placebo effect serve?

Assigning a “purpose” to any feature of evolution is an invitation to make a fool of one’s self. Evolution is an inherently random process. The desire to use evolution to tell “just so” stories often results in seemingly scientific explanations that are completely bogus. But I’ll bite, and risk looking like an idiot, because this Read More …

Why are prescription drug prices so high in the U.S. compared to the rest of the world?

There are two main drivers: strict enforcement of liberal intellectual property laws, and political restriction of bargaining power. The grant of a patent on a drug compound gives its owner a monopoly for the lifetime of the patent, which is now 20 years. During this time the patent holder is free to charge as much Read More …

Is the pharmaceutical industry doing enough to combat antimicrobial resistance?

Enough for whom is one critical question. And “how” is another. If we mean that pharma companies should combat resistance by promoting antibiotic stewardship and thus discourage the use of their products… well, that’s not realistic, is it? And if we mean that they should combat resistance by developing new antibiotics, then the answer is Read More …