Studies in Industrial Organization: Global Price Fixing (2nd Edition)

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And that will involve hard choices with big dollar signs attached. Successful drug development relies on an extremely simple assumption. Unlike cancer drugs, most antibiotics are inexpensive; the few with high price tags are reserved for rare hospital use. And unlike drugs to treat chronic diseases, people take antibiotics for only short periods of time.

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A daily dose of Lipitor causes the world no harm—but every dose of antibiotics poses a risk of encouraging bacteria to adapt and develop resistance. So these new medications are caught in a conundrum: Their fiscal promise and their social value are at odds. More than half are pre-revenue, still working on their first product. Because this situation is common, the policy conversation around getting new antibiotics has focused on offering support to small companies.

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Short version: They gift pharma companies huge wads of cash. Last year, a European coalition known as DriveAB that has been examining antibiotic production and distribution drew up a menu of possible pull incentives and evaluated how powerful each might be. They too concluded that market entry rewards hold the most promise, though they recommended spacing payments out over the life of the drug, to ensure that companies keep manufacturing them.

A raft of studies written over the past few years have recommended other possibilities, such as transferrable exclusivity vouchers, essentially allowing companies that develop a successful antibiotic to keep another drug under patent for extra years, or purchase commitments between governments and companies in which a certain amount of drugs is bought and shelved until needed. Some thinkers have recommended changes in reimbursement, in which Medicare would pay more for an antibiotic deployed after a diagnostic test has been performed—a maneuver that makes the drug intrinsically more valuable, slowing its use and keeping resistance at bay.

Some of these proposals are moving from policy into reality. The United Kingdom just announced a plan to pay for antibiotics based on their value to medicine, rather than the number of doses; and in February the Pew Trusts and a list of companies and associations sent a letter to US senators urging consideration of a package of incentives. The design of the clinical trials used to evaluate powerful new antibiotics—always against existing drugs, not against nothing—is out of step with how resistant infections occur. Patients with virulent, multidrug resistant infections need to be treated immediately; any delays can risk their lives.


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This is one of the issues Achaogen foundered on. Plazomicin was a promising treatment for the most serious superbugs, the highly resistant, gut-dwelling ones known as CREs. But the company could not get enough patients into a trial for that indication, and the FDA approved the drug only for treating resistant urinary tract infections—an important problem, but not as critical as the CREs. Once it was on the market, doctors could have used it against CREs off-label, if they chose.

But with Achaogen headed to Chapter 11 and up for sale, plazomicin might become not available at all. A transferrable patent voucher will cost individual patients whose drug might otherwise have gone generic and become cheaper. A bulk purchase would eat up the budget of a healthcare organization or agency. Market entry rewards are so large they would need to be appropriated within the annual budget of the FDA.

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We are the experts in data modelling and analysis. We use the very latest techniques to model our clients' sales data, helping them to predict how their business will perform. Some even share our analysis with their suppliers to help to inform their production decisions. But we also produce bespoke models for other purposes. If you need to understand how a country or industry will respond to an event like a currency crash or energy shock, we can model that too. Or, if you are doing business planning, we can provide country, industry or market scenarios based on expert judgement, modelling or facilitated debates within your organisation.

We do not just look at countries or cities. We also analyse industries. Our speciality is to understand the intersection between industry developments and the surrounding economic, political and regulatory context. Our team has expertise in financial services, telecoms and technology, consumer goods and retail, automotive, healthcare and pharmaceuticals, commodities and energy. So if you need to dive deep on banking in Peru, tablets in Romania or mining in Mongolia, we can help.

We can also help to unravel the supply chain, identify the key regulatory decision-makers, analyse the purchasing decisions or pinpoint the logistical bottlenecks. If you need to make a decision, you need to rank the options. But how to do that when the key decision factors vary from economic to political, from cultural to geological? The Economist Intelligence Unit's benchmarking and indexing capabilities can help. We are experts in combining qualitative and quantitative data, and weighting it together to form league tables and conduct multi-dimensional comparisons. We have helped companies to rank cities by their attractiveness to the car-rental industry, benchmarked the incentives offered in special economic zones for the technology industry and prioritised markets in Central America for a financial services firm.

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We help pharmaceutical and medical technology firms to demonstrate value. We advise on strategy in all areas of healthcare using techniques such as horizon scanning and megatrend analysis. We provide market insight to pharmaceutical and medical technology firms and clinical providers through our market intelligence, market sizing, channel optimisation and commercial due diligence capabilities.

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China is the second-largest economy in the world, and is the top destination for many international firms looking to grow. China is also home to many of the world's up-and-coming businesses, which are increasingly looking to expand in other emerging markets and also in western Europe and the US.


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