American Way How do you explain the price of, say, your AIDS drug Fuzeon, a breakthrough drug that inhibits HIV's ability to infect immune cells and may help prolong life for some AIDS sufferers? In Europe, Fuzeon costs about $20,000 per year, an immense sum for a single patient. [U.S. pricing is still to be set.]
Humer Fuzeon cost $600 million to develop. We had to build a separate manufacturing facility for it. No one has ever manufactured a protein of that size and complexity. I can explain the pricing with risk and time.
American Way And also, somehow, you have to get back the $600 million of your shareholders' money.
Humer Absolutely. Because with that money I can start looking for the next improved and better treatment of AIDS, because Fuzeon still doesn't cure AIDS.
American Way And yet with some diseases we've made very little progress, for instance, Alzheimer's.
Humer One of the major challenges over the next 10 years will be Alzheimer's. I'm confident that this industry, with the amount of energy, money, and talent that it puts into that disease, will come up with treatments. Look at Hepatitis C. We had nothing five years ago, but with our new drug Pegasys we may be close to curing that disease. That's great. That's why I also believe we will make progress with Alzheimer's.
American Way Imagine you're on an airplane and the person next to you, a fellow executive, asks you what you do and you tell him. Then he asks this: "How will this new research make my life better in the next 5 to 10 years?" What would you say?