Why are pharmaceuticals so expensive? One reasons is that there is a lot of research that goes into developing a drug. Most of that research results in drugs that don’t work. One example is the search for Alzheimer’s treatment. As Bloomberg reports:
Drug companies have long focused on a different protein called amyloid that clumps in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients and is thought to trigger the disease. Companies have poured billions into amyloid-blocking drugs with little success. In 2010, Eli Lilly halted trials of semagacestat after patients on the drug deteriorated more quickly than those on a placebo. In 2012, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson released results of large trials that showed their amyloid treatment didn’t slow progression of the disease. All told, at least 190 Alzheimer’s drugs have failed in human trials, according to Bernard Munos, a senior fellow at FasterCures, a health nonprofit.
Clearly, Alzheimer’s is one of the most important diseases where treatments have largely failed. Incentivizing innovation–through higher drug prices, prizes, the patent system, basic research funding, and other avenues–is key to ensure that the fight for effective Alzheimer’s treatments continues.