From The Cancer Chronicles #14
© Feb. 1993 by Ralph W. Moss, Ph.D.

The big pharmaceutical companies, or so-called 'majors,' continue to gobble up their once-independent biotechnology rivals. The failure of Centocor, Inc. to get FDA approval for its new antibiotic, Centoxin, after a $450 million investment, sent shock waves throughout the industry.

"Centocor reminded people of the chokehold the FDA has on the industry, how difÞcult it is to go it alone," a biotech official told the Washington Post.

In recent months:

  • Immunex Corp., a Seattle biotech specializing in cancer drugs, traded marketing rights with Bristol-Myers Squibb, the cancer industry leader.
  • Genetic Therapy, Inc., formed a strategic alliance with the Swiss pharmaceutical giant Sandoz Pharma Ltd., which, last November, made a $10 million investment in Genetic Therapy.
  • Farma Biagini, SpA, the Italian pharmaceutical company, bought $3.5 million of Univax.
  • Crop Genetics International Corp. , Hanover, MD formed an alliance with Du Pont Co.

"The problem is not all of these strategic alliances work out, and if you ever want to get out of these alliances, it¹s difÞcult to get rid of the board members," one executive told the Washington Post.

But resistance grows: on October 26, Rep. Ron Wyden (D-OR) assailed Bristol-Myers Squibb for planning to charge too much for the new drug taxol. The company wants to sell the PaciÞc yew-derived cytotoxic drug for $680 per month, 3 to 6 times more than it should cost, the Congressman said in a letter to the head of the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

Bristol-Myers Squibb said it was premature to discuss pricing. But Wyden claims documents show that the company and NCI have decided the price should mirror Cisplatin, selling for $680 per month.

Last year, NCI gave Bristol-Myers semi-exclusive rights to use taxol experimentally. The deal requires B-M to pay only for the cost of managing the yew harvests. In return, they got a near-monopoly over this natural but toxic product.

Ralph W. Moss, Ph.D. is director of the The Moss Reports for cancer patients. Dr. Moss is the author of eleven books and three documentaries on cancer-related topics. He is or has been an advisor on alternative cancer treatments to the National Institutes of Health, the National Cancer Institute, the American Urological Association, Columbia University, the University of Texas, the Susan G. Komen Foundation and the German Society of Oncology. He wrote the first article on alternative medicine for the Encyclopedia Britannica yearbook. He is listed in Marquis Who's Who in America, Who's Who in the World, Who's Who in the East, and Who's Who in Entertainment (as a film documentarian). This Web site does not advocate any particular treatment for cancer. We urge you to always seek competent medical advice for all health problems, especially cancer. Before consulting our site please read our full Disclaimer statement.

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