Sounds like I should setup shop as "generic drug company" and land me one of those contracts where I promise to never reach market :)
A case study that everyone should be aware of is the story of Praziquantel in South Korea.
Here's a reference: https://cdn1.sph.harvard.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/480/20...
Praziquantel is about the only thing that works against schistosoma, a very debilitating condition. The compound was discovered in the early 1970s in a joint venture between Bayer and Merck KGA. At that time South Korea had a major schistosoma problem, but Merck could not supply at a price Korea was willing to pay (at that time Park Chung-Hee was in power, it was a military dictatorship).
Korean leadership declared praziquantel a national security issue (true) and started manufacturing their own, and in a collaboration between KIST and Shinpoong Pharmaceuticals developed their own process, which was much cheaper than the original Merck isoquinoline route.
The effort was a major part of the development of a domestic pharmaceutical industry. Shinpoong still hold 50 % of the market in praziquantel.
Maximizing profits for shareholders is not the only motivation that we as humans have for creating life saving medicines. There are countless examples throughout history of new drugs being invented without IP laws. This is akin to how advertisers say the internet wouldn't exist without them.
Corporate science, in contrast, just wants results that work and earn money and as a result is more geared towards weeding out fruitless avenues of research. My general impression is that this is sometimes at the expense of creativity, since companies are more risk-averse generally speaking, which limits what is discovered to mostly non-sexy stuff. I also suspect (but am not certain) that replications are performed more routinely, and are just file-drawered / kept as trade secrets and that the current reproducibility crises in some fields (such as cancer research) have been known about for a while in industry.
Rich people just want to cure cancer, childhood obesity, condition X that afflicts them personally. It's hard to get funding for just basic research because philanthropists generally lean towards the applied side of things as well and don't go for the moonshots. It's not the best, but typically there's some common ground for researchers to get money out of them (or some way to make basic research look applied to an undiscerning eye).
Edit: I’m describing the development of novel drugs here. “Me-too” drugs are significantly less risky and probably less costly but there’s still a lot of risk amd expense.
Curious to hear your thoughts.
BUT it turns out the FDA is what prevents that from happening, and yes less drugs are getting approved.
They take a bath on drugs that don't get released.
I'm not trying to claim Pfizer isn't profiteering, but it's not quite that black & white.
India goes as far as waiving patents if a drug is too expensive.