The trouble is that they probably wouldn’t make billions, at least not personally. Most scientists have signed away their intellectual property rights to their employers. Therefore, they are more interested in where they can get higher salaries and more challenging work.
The trouble with hair loss research is that Governments would never fund it, not least because politics is perhaps the most bald discriminatory profession there is. In practice that means private companies are left to research hair loss and that is extremely risky and also impossible most of the time.
The Government will fund life saving treatments and offer scientists job stability, a decent salary and a good pension (at least in the UK public sector anyway). Oddly they did give a grant to InterCytex but I think it has transpired that this was used for the benefit of other treatments that were more in the ‘public interest’ by the company as well as the HM research.
Meanwhile, working for a company researching hair loss in the private sector is tough. You have no guarantee of ever producing a product that works and whilst you are researching, you have no revenue. You have no job stability and dismal pension prospects. You have to be the sort of person who takes a massive risk to get into this industry. The only potential funding source available is the general public through listing shares or institutional investors, both of whom must be willing to take a huge risk of losing their entire investment.
And there is also some doubt as to whether the returns will be worth it in the end. The scientists won’t make the money; the investors will. So you’re asking people who could earn a lot in a stable job to earn less in an insecure job with no big payoff at the end, in a lot of cases.
Nor do I think the cure for hairloss will be worth billions in profit. After it has been shown most herbal treatments don’t work (although I’ve had some success with beta sitosterol of late) the cure for hairloss is likely going to be very expensive to administer. In the current market too, the profit margins on dutasteride and propecia are not huge because they are expensive to make and were expensive to get to market.
Also, once hair loss has been permanently reversed, where is the income going to come from? It’ll be a business with a big bang but eventually it’ll trickle down to new cases only. And some weirdos actually like being bald too!