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major aids breakthru: hiv weakness found

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Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) researchers at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston believe they have uncovered the Achilles heel in the armor of the virus that continues to kill millions. The weak spot is hidden in the HIV envelope protein gp120, which is essential for HIV attachment to host cells.

 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/07/080715165520.htm

 

only one year late... thanks science.

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Vaccine research could take years.

 

Part of the problem is the guidance of ethics laws which are very specific and very laborious to meet. But we cant really eliminate those ethics laws because even I, a scientist, would admit to overzealousness were those rules not in place. In the end, I consider those regulations a positive check on science which could otherwise become a runaway self-propelled machine of darkness.

 

The bulk of the time and cost of drug research (which includes vaccines, for those who dont know) goes into clinical studies, not actual drug design, manufacturing or solving delivery problems.

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Bulk of cost of drug research.

 

Its impossible to say what the cost of a drug is with certainty because you can count many things as the 'cost of a drug'. Its actually quite comical when people say that marketing is part of the cost of a drug, but failed drugs which dont make it to market are not part of the cost of a drug. Or that overhead cost (in the form of building rent) is not part of the cost of a drug.

 

To me, I dont see why people evaluate cost/profit on the basis of a single drug since pharma companies dont start out by researching single drugs - they research therapeutic areas (generally). So I consider the cost of all failed drugs of a therapeutic area to be the cost of the 1st successful drug of that area. All successful drugs thereafter dilute the cost of drugs and raise the overall profitability of the therapeutic area.

 

Marketing is a big cost. I am all for eliminating the direct to consumer radio and television advertisement of non-OTC drugs. I think its creating a situation where patients walk into doctors' offices and demand a particular drug they saw on TV to treat a ailment they have (or think they have). Doctors are often trained to (within the realm of ethics) make a patient feel better... so unless there is a medical reason not to prescribe a drug, they generally prescribe what is asked for. The process is very damaging to overall health because you get situations like Vioxx (which is slightly more dangerous than the fries at McDonalds) where doctors were prescribing it incorrectly to patients.

 

However, I would not be comfortable eliminating all marketing because consumers should have a good idea of the drugs coming out and what they are for. Doctors should also be trained in medical school to be more than a turnstile for patients seeking drugs.

 

Sales is very important actually. Without the pharma sales reps, doctors wouldnt have the slightest clue what new drugs were available. Doctors dont often keep up to date on the latest drugs and they depend on pharma reps to stop by once a week at their office and give them the 411. I can explain what pharma reps do if you want (because most people dont understand what they do). Ultimately, without reps, doctors would tend to stick to drugs they personally knew were safe and functional, and if a new, better drug came along, patient care would suffer because a doctor may be unaware of it, and without consumers asking for the new drugs on TV, a doctor would really be unaware of it.

 

There is a dynamic balance at play, and all of it trends towards better healthcare... its just a costly situation which needs a few minor changes in order to both cut cost and improve patient healthcare.

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