Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Molecule of the week (II)

So, another molecule of the week! The molecule pictrued above is one of the next generation of more powerful anti-cancer drugs. Traditionally cancer drugs have been cytotoxics that work by disrupting cell division. Newer anti-cancer canditates are more "targeted" with less side effects.

RAD001 a.k.a. everolimus is currently in phase III trials for renal-cell cancer nd carcinoid neuroendocrine tumours and in earlier stage trials for colorectal lung and breast cancers. It is a derivative of the natural products rapamycin, first discovered in bacteria.

When drugs like this do eventually come on the market they are very expensive due the patent protection that the pharmaceutical companies enjoy. The companies can charge almost whatever they want so that the drugs are only available to a select few, claiming that they need to recoup the costs of discovery and development. The health services of many countries can be slow on the uptake due to the cost. Surely it is scandalous that when drugs that are proven effective are available that people just die due to the prohibitive cost so that the pharmaceutical companies can make a fat profit? Perhaps if the drug discovery and development and the associated intellectual property was not in the hands of mega-corporations and instead in the public domain funded by the tax payer (yes that would mean higher taxes) then we could all benefit? Also the choices of which diseases and conditions to develop drugs for would be more motivated by actual need and not what will simply make the most money?


  1. Certainly, it's scandalous. Some might think it's murder.

    It's not the only thing that's scandalous about pharmaceuticals and health care. What about the pratice of testing drugs on people in the third world, nice, pure subjects who aren't on any other medication that might get in the way.... or the American health care system. Or any number of things.

  2. You'd wonder though would our greedy souls be inspired to invent as much on public salaries.

  3. My mum is in a lot of pain at the moment, so she is on really serious painkillers, they work, stop the pain but make her incrdibly ill, vomiting and just feeling awful.

    So someone suggested i get her some dope, it would help with her pain, and it wouldn't make her sick.

    Why is it ilegal?

    Money talks I suppose?

  4. Hmm... only me thinking "Whoah, I've just seen 'I am legend'?"

    On a serious note: I am constantly wondering what can be done in order to turn the unfortunate situation with development and progress only made available quickly to those few with money. It is doing my head in.
    But I *am* enjoying the fact that at least SW development is now moving more towards open source, sharing and constant evolution without gigant corporations getting (as) much of the pie. Medicin is a bit tougher I believe. It is not as easy to find volonteer guinea-pigs as is finding some hardcore bold beta testers...

  5. the amount of resources, knowledge and time needed to develop successful drugs that people need make it difficult to democratize in the way that has happened with computer programming. Usually only very large organizations such as large corporations or the state are capable. Corporations have their own interests for developing medicines, profit. Its not about improving humanity. I'm not so naive as to think that simply putting governments of capitalist countries in charge would make things better. Its more that I believe in properly democratizing the research and development of new medicines so that the resources are directed to what people need and noone is discriminated because they're poor or just not rich enough. I think society should be organized in a completely different way so that production most things and especially important stuff like medicines is not done by big profit making corporations.

  6. Agree.

    And now (again) I remember - we are the society.

    So, I'll go back to making my own plans in order to figure out what next/small step I can make that could make a difference. In the long run.