Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News
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Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News
Pharmaguy curates and provides insights into selected drug industry news and issues.
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A Pfizer executive went to Cuba to learn about its healthcare system — here's what he saw

A Pfizer executive went to Cuba to learn about its healthcare system — here's what he saw | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

Dave Verbraaska's trip to Cuba

In February, I had the opportunity to travel to Cuba as part of a people-to-people educational mission sponsored by Columbia University. As vice president of worldwide public affairs and policy at Pfizer, my aim was to informally learn more about Cuba’s healthcare system which some tout as best-in-class. I traveled to Cuba with 30 other participants from across the United States and the trip was surreal and fascinating on so many levels.

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Here's A "Serious" Alternative To #BigPharma: Small Cuba

Here's A "Serious" Alternative To #BigPharma: Small Cuba | Pharmaguy's Insights Into Drug Industry News | Scoop.it

Techdirt often points out that the current system of funding the creation of life-saving drugs is broken. But the obvious question is: what can you put in its place? The answer includes things like prizes, but also, it seems, Cuba:

Cuba has for several years had a promising therapeutic vaccine against lung cancer. The 55-year trade embargo led by the US made sure that Cuba was mostly where it stayed.


Leaving aside the fact that politics probably got in the way of saving lives (again), the more interesting issue is how Cuba managed to come up with a lung cancer vaccine. Here's the explanation from the Wired article quoted above:


Though the country is justly famous for cigars, rum, and baseball, it also has some of the best and most inventive biotech and medical research in the world. That's especially notable for a country where the average worker earns $20 a month. Cuba spends a fraction of the money the US does on healthcare per individual; yet the average Cuban has a life expectancy on par with the average American. "They’ve had to do more with less," says [Roswell Park Cancer Institute's CEO] Johnson, "so they’ve had to be even more innovative with how they approach things. For over 40 years, they have had a preeminent immunology community."

Pharma Guy's insight:


I wouldn't exactly call Cuba a "serious" alternative to Big Pharma, but it exemplifies how - when forced - people can do more with less. Big Pharma should do the same.

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