Fears about reduction of pharmaceutical R&D funding drive Lord Sainsbury, Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, to argue for blocking Pfizer's potential takeover of AstraZeneca (see Guardian article). He doesn't mention in the article that AstraZeneca had selected Cambridge Biomedical Campus as its new UK-based global research and development centre and corporate headquarters (see press release), which I guess may not happen, at least in the same way, if the takeover goes ahead. What gets lost in this conflict of interest is whether R&D really leads to therapeutic advances (see Light & Lexchin, 2012). For example, most (80%) of the increase in drug expenditure in British Columbia between 1996 and 2003 was explained by the use of new, patented drug products that did not offer substantial improvements on less expensive alternatives available before 1990 (Morgan et al, 2005). Most new drugs are not superior on clinical measures and increase healthcare cost pressures. Medicine has always exploited the placebo effect. Pharmaceutical marketing is not always scientific (Applbaum, 2006). We may need less medicine not more (eg. see previous post).