Patents Being Used To Keep Starving Children From Getting Therapeutic Food Paste
from the promoting-the-progress-of-malnutrition dept
We’ve seen way too many stories of patents being used to hold back medical treatments or drugs in communities that need them most, and now a few of you have sent in this troubling story of how a French company, Nutriset, has been using patents to block competition with its therapeutic food paste for malnourished children. Apparently, the company came up with “a mixture of peanut butter, powdered milk, sugar and vegetable oil fortified with 40 vitamins and minerals,” called it Plumpy’nut, patented it, and started offering it to various aid agencies. Apparently, it works great, but anyone else who creates anything remotely similar comes under attack from Nutriset’s lawyers, who apparently like saving children only when there’s no competition from anyone who might do it more cheaply or more efficiently.
The article highlights a lawsuit that has been filed by some US organizations, looking to make and distribute a competitor called Re:vive, trying to invalidate the Nutriset patent. This isn’t a small issue either — millions of children are starving, and a recent study by UNICEF found that relying on a single supplier, like Nutriset, would not be enough to match the need, and could be a very unreliable way to help save malnourished children. It’s amazing that patents are being used to prevent the more efficient and economic delivery of food to malnourished children, but that’s what you get when you build up a world mentality that believes concepts like this can be “owned” and controlled by a single party.