Excerpts: The Profits of Nonprofit

The Profits of Nonprofit

The surprising results when drug development and altruism collide

By Megan Scudellari | January 1, 2011

“In 2002, the company identified a promising off-patent antibiotic once cast aside by a large pharmaceutical company for its lack of profitability. Since the drug had been previously approved and marketed in the late 1950s as a broad-spectrum antibiotic, iOWH was able to skip directly to a phase III clinical trial to test the drug as a treatment for visceral leishmaniasis. The trial commenced in 2003, and just three years later—record time in the drug development world—paromomycin was approved for sale in India…”

“Though the idea of a nonprofit pharmaceutical company is still new, nonprofit foundations and institutes have long been a staple in biomedical research funding in the United States. But they too are breaching the barriers between profit and nonprofit, adopting best practices from the for-profit business world…”

“Victoria Hale has also made a move toward borrowing business strategies, this time not only to enable nonprofits to develop drugs, but to make and market them without Big Pharma’s help. In 2008, she left iOWH to found a “second-generation” nonprofit pharmaceutical company called Medicines360. With a focus on women and children’s health, Medicines360 aims to become self-sustaining over time, using revenue from sales of its products at a premium price in the West to subsidize the same products for those who can’t afford them in developing countries. The company is currently developing an intrauterine device (IUD) for contraception…”

“In the United States, L3Cs, low-profit, limited-liability companies, now bridge that gap. Eight states have passed legislation that permits the creation of L3Cs—defined as socially beneficial for-profit ventures. Many companies have adopted the status, including alternative-energy companies, newspapers, and food companies, but no pharmaceutical or biotech company has yet attempted the model, according to L3C experts. That’s not to say they won’t, however.”


The Scientist: The Profits of Nonprofit

Case Report: 382 Day Therapeutic Fast

Features of a successful therapeutic fast of 382 days’ duration

A 27-year-old man weighing 456 pounds fasted for 382 days under clinical supervision. He lost 276 pounds (final weight 180 pounds) for an average weight loss of 0.76 pounds per day. The man was followed-up 5 years later, and he had maintained his weight at 196 lbs. This case report was published in 1973.

The authors describe case studies of other obese patients who died from fasting therapy:

“There have been reports of five fatalities coinciding with the treatment of obesity by total starvation (Cubberley, Polster & Schulman, 1965; Spencer, 1968; Garnett et al., 1969; Runcie & Thomson, 1970). One was attributed to lactic acidosis during the refeeding period following a 3 week fast (Cubberley et al., 1965). Two were considered to be due to ventricular failure, occurring during the fast, at 3 and 8 weeks respectively in patients who had shown evidence of heart failure before beginning the fast (Spencer, 1968). One patient (Runcie & Thomson, 1970) died on the thirteenth day of his fast from small bowel obstruction. Only one of the five ‘fasting’ deaths has been associated with a fast of more than 200 days’ duration. It occurred during the refeeding period after a fast of 210 days in an apparently well young woman (Garnett et al., 1969). Following this particular report doubt has been cast on the safety of the treatment of obesity by total fasting (Garnett et al., 1969; Rooth & Carlstrom, 1970). However, the allopurinol which had been given may have had unfavourable effects on nucleotide metabolism (Stewart & Fleming, 1969).”

The authors conclude:

“Short-term fasts, although demonstrating to the obese patient his ability to lose weight, have a poor long-term outlook with respect to subsequent weight gain (MacCuish et al., 1968). We have found, like Munro and colleagues (1970), that prolonged supervised therapeutic starvation of the obese patient can be a safe therapy, which is also effective if the ideal weight is reached. There is, however, likely to be occasionally a risk in some individuals, attributable to failures in different aspects of the adaptative response to fasting. Until the characteristics of these variations in response are identified, and shown to be capable of detection in their prodromal stages, extended starvation therapy must be used cautiously…Starvation therapy can be completely successful, as in the present instance.”



NCBI: Features of a successful therapeutic fast of 382 days’ duration

PDF: Features of a successful therapeutic fast of 382 days’ duration

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