Pay after cure

THE French- controlled us drug company, Rhone-Poulenc Rorer (RPR) has initiated a novel concept in selling its cancer drugs in the UK. Their sales representatives have an interesting message to convey: if the drug does not cure, payment need not be made. RPR is willing to bear the financial expenses if its drug does not live upto its promise of curing the patient.

It has recently won approval from all the 15 European Union states for its new cancer drug, Taxotere, and has begun the innovative sales pitch to promote it. Says Tom Foy, RPR'S oncology business unit director, "In other industries, if a product does not do what the maker says it does, you get taken to court. That doesn't happen in healthcare, so we are prepared to carry the financial burden of the drug in patients on whom the drug doesn't work."

Its nearest competitor in the breast cancer market is the Taxol drug made by Bristol-Myers Squibb, a US company. Both these drugs are made from derivatives of the Pacific yew tree and are powerful cancer-cell killers. However, they could cause damage to the nerves in certain patients.