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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press The Problems of Avandia: Another Example of Failed Big Government

The Problems of Avandia: Another Example of Failed Big Government

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Friday, 24 September 2010 05:18

The NYT had a front page article on the decision by regulators in the United States and Europe to restrict access to Avandia, a major drug for treating diabetes. The reason for the restriction was a new study that linked the drug to tens of thousands of heart attacks.

This assessment was based on an independent analysis of data from GlaxoSmithKline, the manufacturer of the drug. GlaxoSmithKline did not do (or report) this analysis itself even though it had the data. The patent monopoly on Avandia granted by the government gave GlaxoSmithKline a strong incentive not to find the potential dangers of its drug. This failure of big government should have been noted in this article. (There are more efficient alternatives to patent monopolies for supporting prescription drug research.) 

Comments (8)Add Comment
...
written by izzatzo, September 24, 2010 8:37
Any economist knows there's no free lunch. It's zero sum trade-offs all the way. Some must die of heart attacks in order for others to survive diabetes.

Just because there's thousands of heart attacks doesn't mean the net benefits are still not positive. You don't stop eating just because your kidneys are loaded with fructose do you. Well there you go.

Besides, it acts to clear out the gene pool of those more prone to diabetes anyway because they're more prone to heart attacks as well. This increases average productivity from a Darwinian perspective.

All it takes is disclosure with a warning label to advise those making a free choice in a free market of what they're getting:

*Notice: In taking this drug, you may be giving up your life so others can live, in which case it should be treated it like an organ donation gone wrong.
metabolic syndrome
written by frankenduf, September 24, 2010 8:57
actually, there is some profound truth in isthatso's satire- right now the quandary in (type 2) diabetes treatment stems from our lack of understanding the underlying cause of metabolic syndrome- so it is still unclear which is paramount to treat, the insulin resistance or the atherosclerosis- it's not necessarily zero sum, but there may be some countervalence in treatment options- and i also think that the joking notice on taking drugs may harm u but statistically help others is profound as well- the public policy tradeoff between saving some lives at the expense of others may be beyond our ethical comprehension to sort out the optimal social treatment, or what it means for our sense of free will when we make the decision to take a drug
Patent Monopoly Abuse Is Not Limited to Drugs
written by Ron Alley, September 24, 2010 9:20
Dean,

Here is a link to a patent controversy that probably has flown below your radar. The University of Minnesota has developed a variety of apple called the SweeTango and has really tried to flex its patent muscles by a tiered licensing system that limits the distribution channels available to growers.

http://www.startribune.com/local/103117924.html?elr=KArksUUUoDEy3LGDiO7aiU

This controversy is crony capitalism on steroids.
Heart attacks kill you quicker than diabetes
written by jbmoore, September 24, 2010 11:59
If the drug does cause more heart attacks, then the drug should be discontinued until researchers know why some die from heart attacks. If the affected users have a genetic variation that make them more susceptible to dying from a heart attack, they should be screened. While one out of ten thousand deaths may be an acceptable trade off for using a drug or vaccine to prevent more deaths, presumably the risk of death is much higher than that ratio with this drug. Diabetes can be controlled by diet and weight loss. While some heart attacks are caused by atherosclerosis, the underlying cause is likely to be infection of arterial walls by CMV. Those heart attacks may be preventable some day by vaccines or herpes virus replication inhibitors. However, some forms of sudden cardiac death are still unknown as to the cause, and they are not treatable. Do you want to take a pill that can kill you a lot quicker via a bad side effect than the disease you are treating? That's close to being a modern equivalent of snake oil.
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written by henry, October 26, 2010 8:56
generic avandia Therefore, Avandia should not be used in patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus or for the treatment of diabetic ketoacidosis. • The coadministration of Avandia and insulin is not recommended. • The use of Avandia with nitrates is not recommended
avandia
written by generic avandia, October 26, 2010 8:58
Therefore, Avandia should not be used in patients with type 1 diabetes mellitus or for the treatment of diabetic ketoacidosis. • The coadministration of Avandia and insulin is not recommended. • The use of Avandia with nitrates is not recommended generic avandia
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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.

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