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  • The Goldman Sachs company logo is seen in the company's space on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, (NYSE) in New York, U.S., April 17, 2018.

    The Goldman Sachs company logo is seen in the company's space on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, (NYSE) in New York, U.S., April 17, 2018. | Photo: Reuters

Published 24 April 2018
Opinion

In order to cure people, you need to keep them sick.

In a report titled “Genome Revolution,” Goldman Sachs', one of the financial institutions responsible for the 2008 crisis, analysts discuss the profitability of definitely curing patients instead of keeping them buying medication.

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In a note sent to the bank's clients, analyst Salveen Richter discusses the benefits patients represent for gene therapy, also addressing income problems pharmaceutical companies may face if they don't keep a stable and loyal client base. "Is curing patients a sustainable business model?" the analysts ask in an April 10 report entitled "The Genome Revolution."

"The potential to deliver 'one shot cures' is one of the most attractive aspects of gene therapy, genetically-engineered cell therapy and gene editing. However, such treatments offer a very different outlook with regard to recurring revenue versus chronic therapies," writes Richter in a report dated April 10.

"While this proposition carries tremendous value for patients and society, it could represent a challenge for genome medicine developers looking for sustained cash flow."

To support his argument, Richter cited the case of Gilead Science's sofosbuvir treatment for Hepatitis C, which cured more than 90 percent of patients. Its success was so great the company's sales reached US$12.5 billion 2015 almost only in the U.S. But the treatment proved to be so effective that patients cured within the 12 week treatment and prevented them from transmitting the disease.

As the number of new patients decreased and the old ones were cured, Gilead Science's revenues have fallen, and Richter estimates that their sales will be less than US$4 billion in 2018.

This is what worries Richter and investors. In the current global economic system, not having enough profit and capital can hinder new research, preventing other diseases from being cured by new, more effective medication.

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