“This is a dangerous moment for the life sciences industry that is increasingly vital to the U.S. economy.” — Lead Wall Street Journal editorial, Sept. 23, 2015

There are dirty-little secrets out there …

If one buys low and sells high, there is a resulting profit.

If demand is high and supply is low, prices rise … profits are likely.

And some forward-looking companies may take those profits and plow them right back into R&D (research and development), resulting technological breakthroughs may ensue, which may lead to more profits … and more R&D. Sounds like a plan to Almost DailyBrett.biotech

There are some who just don’t agree with buy low, sell high. There are some who are not enamored with supply and demand. In fact, they are declaring war on capitalistic “profiteering.”

The target du jour is bio-technology, the very folks who produce cures (e.g., Hepatitis C) and management regimes to control diseases (e.g., AIDS). One would think these biotech superstars, such as Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ: GILD), would be regarded as heroes. Alas, you would be wrong.

Certainly, there is a poster-child villain in this story.shkreli

His name is Martin Shkreli, the chief executive officer of Turing Pharmaceuticals, guilty of raising the price of parasite infection drug, Daraprim, by 4,000 percent. The 32-year-young hedge-fund manager beat a hasty retreat last week in the face of a chorus of cat calls. He is a walking-talking, first-rate public relations disaster.

Having made this point, should the entire life sciences industry, its scientists and patients, some in desperate need of breakthrough drugs, be punished for the sins of a hedge-fund manager and presumably a few others?

Here are a few more troubling price-control questions:

  • Will after-tax R&D expenditures of life sciences and by natural extension, technology companies, become the subject of regulatory-imposed quotas (e.g., no more than x percent of net income can be used for R&D)?
  • What impacts will these Washington D.C., or Sacramento-initiated command-and-control limitations have on finding cures for diseases or next generation killer apps? Will there be fewer newer drugs on the market? Will there be less “destructive” game-changing technologies?
  • Will other operating expenses on the income statement also be subject to governmental expenditure controls, such as SG&A (selling, general and administrative)? For example, will life sciences, software and/or hardware companies be restricted in how much they can spend to market a breakthrough product? What impacts will these restrictions, if they become reality, have on the fiscal health public relations and advertising agencies?
  • What happens to heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s patients and others facing potentially fatal diseases, if the political class imposes draconian controls on new drug development … pharmaceuticals that potentially could save their lives?

Guess life’s tough, right?

Steve Jobs Turning Over in His Grave?jobsmemorial

There are ballot initiatives circulating in California – the home of Silicon Valley technology and some big league life sciences companies – that would impose price controls on pharmaceuticals and limitations on after tax R&D, marketing and presumably other operating expenditures.

Do you think that once emboldened the political elites will stop at the income statements of life sciences companies? Or would they march onto the next battle: social, mobile and cloud companies in Silicon Valley and San Francisco?

Let’s see, the price for an Apple 6s smart phone is $849.99. There are no deals or discounts on Apple smart phones. Is that price too high? Are we all entitled to have a smart phone? Should price controls be imposed on Apple smart phones, tablets, watches, Macs, iPods …?

Whattyathink Tim Cook?

Looking at the income statement for Q3, Apple generated $49.6 billion on the top line (Is that too much?).

The company paid $3.79 billion in taxes (Is that too little?).

Apple devoted $2.03 billion for R&D and $3.56 billion for SG&A (Are these figures simply way too much for research and marketing respectively?).

The company also devoted $29.9 billion for COGS or the cost to make its breakthrough products. (Does Apple really need to spend that much? Your collectivist thoughts, Sacramento and/or Washington?)

Worse yet, Apple produced a profit of $10.67 billion. Is the company (and many others) guilty of “profiteering.”

These figures are reflections of not only extraordinary success, but engineering breakthroughs, entrepreneurial spirit, calculated gambles of consumer acceptance, and of course, the risk of failure.

The whole notion of venture capital is to spend private equity on ideas that may stick to the wall, but then they may also flop. An idea may be good, but too early for consumer acceptance (e.g., HDTV in the 1990s).

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One of the distinguishing characteristics of America, which makes it the land of opportunity, is calculated risk-taking of entrepreneurs. Ultimately, they have the super ideas that may lead to landmark products and with them literally tens of thousands of new jobs – not family wage jobs (whatever they are), but career path jobs.

Should we literally kill the goose that is laying golden eggs?

http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-assault-on-drug-innovation-1442964103

http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-biotech-rout-1443484644

http://www.wsj.com/articles/hillary-vs-cancer-treatment-1443007218

https://gma.yahoo.com/company-lower-drug-price-critics-called-4-000-002025809–abc-news-health.html#

http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2015/07/21Apple-Reports-Record-Third-Quarter-Results.html

 

 

 

 

 

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