Model S of Pharmaceuticals

As we get into winter, and I develop a case of the sniffles - hopefully I can avoid coming down with a cold; I’ve been wondering this for a bit now.

If you’re in the top whatever percent of rich people with a net worth over $100 million, would you not pay $100k to be better from the common cold? Call it the Tesla model - don’t go for the price conscious mass-market first. Sell to those for whom money is no object first.

Build the Model-S of common cold treatment. When you feel a cold coming on, your private house-call-making doctor comes to your house, you cough on a petri dish with rhinovirus food, the doctor takes it back to the lab, rushes it through whatever testing is required, then comes back the next day, gives Bill Gates a pill or a shot, and the day after, he’s right as rain.

Simultaneously, work on getting the cost of the equipment down. Depending on what’s being research, a medical lab could easily cost over $10 million - too expensive to scale quickly, but making lab equipment that’s orders of magnitude cheaper will pay dividends for itself. The first human genome that was sequenced cost ~$3 billion, now we’re just waiting for it to drop below $1000 (currently at $1400). (23&me’s $200 kit isn’t technically sequencing, but they definitely also benefitted from that work.)

Once the cost of everything involved is brought down, bring it to a broader market. Charge $1,000 to never get the common cold again, and reap in money selling both the cure and the supporting equipment. There are enough people paying over $1,000 for elective surgery to support many plastic surgery clinics; I’d venture a cure for the common cold would be able to sustain a few, at least until a competitor comes out with a vaccine.

Unfortunately, the NTSB and the FDA regulations, as well as the behavior of patents on things like car transmissions vs drugs, are very different things (for good reason, mind you), so this isn’t a likely scenario.