Can Universities Make Sure That Drugs Based On Their Research Are Licensed Reasonably?

from the probably-not dept

Joseph Franklin has written about how a group of universities have agreed to some basic principles (pdf) about providing drugs to developing nations at reasonable costs (or even free) in the interest of better global healthcare. However, Franklin wonders how well this will work in practice, and why it should only apply to developing nations, and not domestically as well. It's an interesting question, made more complicated by the fact that many drugs have their research started at universities -- frequently backed by government money -- but are later taken over by pharmaceutical companies who have no interest in such principles. I tend to think that such "principles" are nice to speak about, but are rarely effective in actually creating change. I would think that a much stronger argument is showing the economic benefits in keeping people alive. If you could rid some developing nations of certain diseases, you'd be able to open up vast new markets for other industries. Hell, imagine if you could get companies in other industries (food, clothing, transportation, etc.) to pay for drugs for the poor in developing nations, knowing that keeping them healthy will help those nations build their economy so they can start purchasing the same food, clothing and transportation...


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  1.  
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    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Nov 25th, 2009 @ 1:51am

    “Enlightened” Self-Interest?

    As far as companies are concerned, the “economic benefits” in keeping people alive are directly related to their purchasing power. That’s why almost nothing has been spent on diseases like tuberculosis and malaria, which kill millions every year, while billions go into drugs like Viagra, even though nobody ever died from the inability to get a stiff cock. It’s because all those deaths are of poor people in the Third World who have essentially no discretionary income anyway.

    Sure, you could say in the long term, if those poor people can stay alive and build up their economies to the point that they become affluent and able to spend money on your products, then surely there’s benefit to you. But that’s long-term thinking, which companies are inherently incapable of.

     

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  2.  
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    Yosi, Nov 25th, 2009 @ 4:52am

    Re: �Enlightened� Self-Interest?

    If your "purchasing power" is near zero, what difference does it make if you live or die?
    Nations with near-zero productivity can not have complains that others are not researching drugs for it.

    Nobody stopping "poor people" to read books and run biological, medical, and other research. I don't need drugs from malaria, and consequently I will not pay for research.

    And no, "saving people" is not good goal as-is. People should be worth saving.

     

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  3.  
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    Grimace (profile), Nov 25th, 2009 @ 5:11am

    Patent licensing could do it

    If the university has a patent as a result of its researcher's work, and the pharma co needs that patent to commercialize, then as part of the licensing agreement, the university could include a provision requiring the pharma co to sell drugs to developing countries at a discount. This is one way patent protection could be used to benefit a third party. Universities would have to put their money where there mouth is, though, because, undoubtedly, they would make less money from the patent license if such a provision were included.

     

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  4.  
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    A-Dub, Nov 25th, 2009 @ 5:11am

    For profit health care

    Universities are also frequently funded by private donations with strings attached. Insurance companies, drug mfg., and hospitals should be non-profit organizations. Move the focus from turning a profit to actually treating people.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 25th, 2009 @ 5:16am

    Re: For profit health care

    Great idea! Let's make more things government funded and non-profit. After all, our national debt is only about $13 trillion. If we borrow a little more there will never be a chance that we can ever it pay it off and the U.S. can declare bankruptcy. Wonder who will fund anything at all at that point - including Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security?

     

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  6.  
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    A Nonny mouse, Nov 25th, 2009 @ 5:23am

    Re: Re: �Enlightened� Self-Interest?

    I think, from the tone your post expecially with regard to the last sentence, you're not.

     

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  7.  
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    A Nonny mouse, Nov 25th, 2009 @ 5:28am

    Re: Re: For profit health care

    Republican zesl - 10, reading comprehension - 0.
    Non-profit organisations are not government funded. Non-profit means that all money made is reinvested in the workforce and the business (instead of being skimmed off by the shareholder drones).
    And if the proles get better healthcare then they can work harder to make more money for the scum that always floats to the top.

     

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  8.  
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    Christopher (profile), Nov 25th, 2009 @ 5:46am

    Licensing by nation.

    Just license the drug directly to a national clearinghouse. Brazil will license it, for example, to make cheap drugs to combat AIDS and that license fee is necessarily smaller than France or Germany or the US. Then contract manufacturers in each nation can battle it out to produce it -- within that market only.

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 25th, 2009 @ 6:13am

    Re: Re: Re: For profit health care

    Non-profit organisations are not government funded.

    Let us consider the potential accuracy of your statement, using facts rather than philosophical hyperbole. Then we can determine your reading comprehension.

    o According to the federal government of the United States, approximately $400 billion is available for non-profit organization grants.

    o Here is a quote from a November, 2001 article titled "Article: Government granting increases to nonprofits":

    As World Vision found out, sometimes getting the government dollar comes down to simply asking for it. "We're applying for more government grants and in return receiving more," admitted John Reid, chief operations officer of the Federal Way, Wash.; nonprofit.

    All told, the top 100 organizations were doled out extra slices of government cheese in fiscal '00 as government support in the sector rose 10.4 percent. The $751.5 million improvement over fiscal '99 numbers revealed a total categorical growth in every area excluding conservation organizations.

    o Here is another quote from the article "How Nonprofits Get Really Big":

    Bridgespan obtained solid financial data for 110 of the 144 high-growth nonprofits we identified. Of the 110, roughly 90 percent had a single dominant source of funding—such as government, individual donations, or corporate gifts.

    o One more quote, from the article "The work of nonprofits:
    Finances are tight when their services are needed the most":

    To do their work, the 29,300 nonprofits registered in Illinois rely on a mix of government dollars, foundation grants, private fundraising and their own endowments.


    There are THOUSANDS of such references on the internet, all describing how non-profit organizations apply for and receive government funding. Since you claim, based on your statements, to be well-read, and since my knowledge is supported by fact, and since my reading comprehension is, by your estimate, zero, then your reading comprehension must logically be in the negative numbers, probably by an order of magnitude since you spewed your nonsense in view of MASSIVE amounts of data contrary to your statement.

    Now, you also claim "Republican zeal." I have no idea what that means since I voted democratic party in the last election. Since I voted democratic party, and since you are clearly not republican oriented, it is likely that you are either an independent or a socialist.

    If you are an independent, then likely you struggle to make up your mind where to put your vote, which is okay, and understandable given your self-admitted reading comprehension issues.

    If you are a socialist, then you ascribe to the "take from those who have to give to those who have not," which has been a failed strategy in virtually every country where it has been tried, so we know where you put your faith.

    Thank you for "enlightening" me. It has been quite entertaining.

     

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  10.  
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    David (profile), Nov 25th, 2009 @ 7:00am

    Very innovative idea, Mike

    This is the most innovative win-win idea that I have heard. The largest problem that we have is that there is no motivation for the companies in the healthcare game to promote true wellness. If they were to do that, their products and services would become obsolete, and with no new business model, they would die.

    If the businesses who would benefit from wellness would sponsor it, like you suggested, we could really get somewhere in solving a lot of the world's health problems.

    Kudos on a great idea.

     

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  11.  
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    Jesse, Nov 25th, 2009 @ 7:30am

    Would it be possible to make some sort of viral "open source" license on the use of the research that applies to all downstream developments?

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 25th, 2009 @ 7:57am

    Re: Re: �Enlightened� Self-Interest?

    lol wtf.

    Sure there is no justified complaints from poor countries that no one is saving them. I'll give you that.

    Nobody stopping poor people to read books? I'm sorry but yes there are people and conditions that are stopping poor people from reading books. This is the totalitarian governments that want to maintain their god hood status in their own country. In this day in age you are right for thinking there is no excuse for ignorance. But obviously coming from a kinder government you seem to not understand there are truly evil people out there doing evil and they are educated in the fine art of honing ignorance into the ultimate weapon against their own people.

    And for your last point I hope you understand you are evil. No ifs ands or buts about it. By the tone and what you are conveying you would only save a person worth saving, which means you are completely self serving. Your motives drive you only to improve yourself in some way. Which I am fine with, I am evil too. I give to no "charity" and no person if I see no benefit to it to myself in my life time. Can you admit you are evil though?

     

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  13.  
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    Nina Paley (profile), Nov 25th, 2009 @ 8:30am

    patent-left

    Any government funding should be on the condition that the results are publicly owned. Given the state of current IP law, where powerful corporations and individuals can remove knowledge from the Public Domain, some kind of "copyleft" equivalent is needed for patents, to ensure the work remains share-able.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 25th, 2009 @ 11:02am

    There is nothing in the world that keeps universities from doing that right now, just write into the agreement that the drug has to be given out free of charge to certain countries.

    Of course, the drug companies are not going to pay much for those drugs, but whatever.

    Thats ok though, because you don't think ROI has anything to do with the amount put into R&D anyway.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 25th, 2009 @ 11:24am

    God helps those that help themselves. Gee, that sounds pretty mean, doesn't it? Does that make God evil?

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 25th, 2009 @ 11:49am

    If they can't pay for drugs, what makes you think they can pay for anything else?

    That does put a crimp in the plan.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 25th, 2009 @ 12:52pm

    Re: Re: Re: Enlightened Self-Interest?

    You wrong all over.

    No condition can prevent an entire nation from reading books. Single person - yes; whole nation not in a life time. I spend about 20 years of my life in one of those "totalitarian governments" you're talking about. And you're talking bull crap.

    Evil? This is your own artificial construct. Torah doesn't define "evil". It defines what is blessing (aka good). "Evil" is same as "I don't like".

     

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  18.  
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    Tek'a R (profile), Nov 25th, 2009 @ 3:31pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: For profit health care

    so enlightened, golly..

    I'll put it out a different way..

    some nonprofits receive partial gov funding =/= all nonprofits are entirely government funded.

     

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  19.  
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    Tek'a R (profile), Nov 25th, 2009 @ 3:31pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: For profit health care

    so enlightened, golly..

    I'll put it out a different way..

    some nonprofits receive partial gov funding =/= all nonprofits are entirely government funded.

     

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  20.  
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    Jake V, Jan 11th, 2010 @ 9:54pm

    Re: Re: Re: For profit health care

    It is however usually brought upon by an initial government grant. I have known the owners of many non-profits and they all started through a government issued grant.

     

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