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Max Nisen

Nobel Prizes Bring Out the Best and Worst in Pharma

Drugmakers help turn scientific breakthroughs into life-saving medicines, but not without costs.

Science wins awards, pharma reaps rewards.

Science wins awards, pharma reaps rewards.

Photographer: Science & Society Picture Librar/SSPL

The Nobel Prize is one of the world’s top honors for recognizing groundbreaking work in science, diplomacy and other fields. But this year’s awards in medicine and chemistry stand out even in august company.

The prize in medicine, given Monday to James Allison and Tasuku Honjo, recognized their research on the immune system, which has led to drugs that have changed the treatment outlook for deadly cancers. On Wednesday, George Smith and Gregory Winter were awarded the chemistry prize for work that helped produce AbbVie Inc.’s Humira, the world’s best-selling drug, as well as a number of other of antibody treatments that have helped improve and extend the lives of millions of patients.