Scientist Makes Sure That No One Uses His Patent On Malaria Drug To Gouge The Poor

from the good-man dept

I've been doing a lot of research on the healthcare and pharmaceutical markets lately, getting a much better understanding of just how much damage patents have actually done to healthcare (contrary to the opinions of many). There's a lot of scary stuff, the more you dig into it -- but occasionally you come across a surprising story. For example, in the 1940s, the pharma company Merck basically agreed to give up its patent right to block others from making streptomycin, allowing others to create competing products, making it much easier (and cheaper) to treat tuberculosis patients. I would have thought that a similar story would be impossible today, but perhaps not. Against Monopoly points us to the news of a molecular biologist, Jay Keasling, who came up with a much more efficient way to create a malaria drug. And, while he did patent it, he negotiated with his university and drug companies to make sure that no one would gouge the poor with the drug. The drug is going into production and will be sold at cost by Sanofi-Aventis. Apparently such stories can still happen...


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  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 5:16am

    I've been doing a lot of research on the healthcare and pharmaceutical markets lately, getting a much better understanding of just how much damage patents have actually done to healthcare (contrary to the opinions of many).

    You talk about the damage done to healthcare (which is of course your opinion, which is contrary to the opinions of many) but what you can never research is the amount of good patents have actually done.

    You can never know what good was not done because patents didn't exist, because they do. You are only measuring the downside to the issue.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 5:41am

    when I initially read this headline I thought it meant things were the other way around ie Scientist prevents others from using his patent in order to gouge the poor.

     

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    Killer_Tofu (profile), Mar 12th, 2009 @ 5:54am

    Re: First & General thought

    I am glad to hear that a patent was used for good. Such a rare story these days. Mostly it seems to be money grubbing failures who use patents. Not in this case. Very glad to hear about it.

    Re AC #1
    Do you have any reading comprehension at all or do you just spout off random comments with no basis whatsoever?
    You are only measuring the downside to the issue.
    If you read even half of this blog post, you would realize your statement is completely false. Right here, this entire blog post by Mike, is about a positive effect that a patent had. Way to read man.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 5:59am

    Killer, do you?

    My point is that you can not measure the good patents have done because you can never know what drugs wouldn't now exist if patents were not around.

    But feel free to attack anything concerning anyone's support for patents, I expect nothing less. Sure, I work for the drug industry, music industry, book publishers and a shadow government.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 6:13am

    Re:

    Ok, then...if your position is that there are examples of where patents have done good (other than the one Mike noted), go ahead and describe them.

     

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    Adam Singer, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 6:14am

    Hooray!

    There is some good left in the world.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 6:20am

    I'm pretty sure there are lots of formerly poor individuals who had a eureka moment that now are much better off financially - because they had the protection of a patent. I would think their families probably have a different view of patents.

     

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    Comboman, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 6:20am

    Insulin

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 6:23am

    "Ok, then...if your position is that there are examples of where patents have done good (other than the one Mike noted), go ahead and describe them."

    I work for a SMALL pharmaceutical company that is currently evaluating a small molecule (very common) that can be made relatively cheaply, which may help treat rheumatoid arthritis.

    Currently, RnD and especially safety trials (I do not know the exact number) have cost millions of dollars in investor money. This is before advertising (if we get FDA approval), and manufacturing costs.

    Without patents and a licensing agreements, how would we recoup these costs? Why would we even bother with all these safety trials?

    It's quite possible we will not meet the necessary FDA guidelines and all the time/money will have been wasted.

    After FDA approval, a large company could swoop in a start manufacturing at a faction of the cost/time as we will be able to.

     

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    Weird Harold, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 6:29am

    The standard answer around here is "make a better product and people will pay you for it". This answer typically comes from people who have never actually built anything in their lives. Heck, I was surprised to find out that at least one of the "experts" from the Insight community here is still a student. Can't imagine the depth of expertise and experience there!

    I really don't understand why Mike posted this story, as it really kills many of his own arguments. Inventors have the choice of what to do with their patents. The reality is that for most people, a dump truck full of money is the ultimate reward. This scientist shows otherwise. It shows that perhaps the problem isn't the patent system, but rather the people using it. But hey, it's easier to rail against a system than it is to rail against our own weaknesses.

     

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    Ed, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 6:33am

    IMHO the "good" done by a patent is, in general, done "for" the patent holder. This is a rare case where the patent holder uses a patent as a stick, to "do" good, rather than a stick to beat off competitors. Pharmaceutical companies are in the business of making money. If profit were not the object, they would not patent the drugs they create. But anyone who thinks patents somehow cause companies to make drugs to help people are fooling themselves. The good done for people is purely coincidental. I have no problem with they making a profit per se, but I do have a problem at times with how that stick is employed, and with the price gauging that sometimes results, when lives are at stake.

     

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    DCX2, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 6:35am

    Re:

    Sounds to me like the problem is that the FDA testing process creates massive barriers to entry, and patents are used to make up for this. Why not let the government come in and "buy" the patent off of the company, and then put it in the Public Domain? You get your money to cover RnD, your competitors get to create a product that can compete with yours (and we know free markets love competition), and the public gets access to the drugs without being gouged by a company whose concern is not the well-being of other humans but the flow of profits into the coffers.

    Patents are NOT necessary. There are other ways to do it. Some of them are probably even better.

     

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    Coffe Stain, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 6:36am

    Nice try

    This story shows the better side of people, congrats to the prof.

    The article lacked detail, I was looking for what exactly was done in order to ensure this. Once this starts generating large quantities of cash someone will figure a way around the restrictions.

    Big Pharma is known for their greed trumps need attitude, I doubt this will change anytime in the near future.

     

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    DCX2, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 6:39am

    Re:

    In the absence of patents, there may be fewer drugs, but there would be more of those drugs for people to buy on the cheap. Academia would probably still be pumping out some drugs; not as many as Big Pharma can with patents, but surely research would not vanish.

    You do not know which scenario would be for the greater good, but most people only care about the $$$ anyway so F&%* the greater good.

     

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    DCX2, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 6:49am

    Re:

    I had more experience as a student than many people I have met in the industry. But why let an ad-hominem get in the way of a good argument. Students are stupid, right? They both begin with stu!

    So I've been working for about four years with a small company on a new product. There is no patent for this product. Instead, we're making a product that's way, way better than anything on the market right now. It's due to be released this year.

    The system permits our weaknesses to be exploited. Why rail against the financial system, when it was our own greed that brought everything down? Because there are supposed to be safeguards in place to compensate for human weakness. The lack of these safeguards is a problem, for the financial system, or patents.

    Buy why bother designing a system that is resistant to the weakness of its constituent humans, when you can just blame it on how awful people can be and allow people to exploit the system.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 6:54am

    "The good done for people is purely coincidental. I have no problem with they making a profit per se, but I do have a problem at times with how that stick is employed, and with the price gauging that sometimes results, when lives are at stake."

    I agree, but its not coincidental, that's the way it works. Companies invest in products that people will pay for so they can make a profit.

    "Sounds to me like the problem is that the FDA testing process creates massive barriers to entry"

    It is, but current thinking is to make that testing even stricter and make it more difficult to have a drug approved. If people don't trust drug companies now, do we want to make it easier for them to get drugs to market?

    "Why not let the government come in and "buy" the patent off of the company, and then put it in the Public Domain? You get your money to cover RnD, your competitors get to create a product that can compete with yours (and we know free markets love competition), and the public gets access to the drugs without being gouged by a company whose concern is not the well-being of other humans but the flow of profits into the coffers."

    In the example given, do you think Sanofi had to beat off competitors to win the right to manufacture and distribute this drug that they will sell at no profit? I doubt it. It will be distributed in Africa out of a sense of responsibility (or goodwill or PR value )of the good doctor who "invented" it and the drug company that will manufacture and distribute it.

     

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  17.  
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    angry dude, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 6:56am

    Re:

    Dude

    you are wasting your comments on Mikey

    He gets his paycheck from CPF and BSA members, NOT from pharma or manufacturing companies

    Therefore whatever lies he writes about patents serves the needs of those large tech companies

    Journalism is like prostitution these days

    if you pay enough he will take it in his arse too

     

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    angry dude, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 7:05am

    Re: Re:

    Hey punky

    Patent term is 17 years after that anyone can make a generic version and sell it for pennies
    So you would still be able to buy drugs, and very cheap, just no new drugs cause nobody would bother to research new drugs

    And NO, academia DOES NOT produce new drugs, they just can't do it by their very nature

    YOu are sitting at a kiddie table tonight

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 7:27am

    The question is what is the best way to motivate people to do anything, be it invent new drugs, build a better car or produce food.

    Greed is one of those motivators, so is encouraging (or demanding) that people do things for the greater good. As Milton once said, greed is inherent in humans, be it for money, for power or whatever (although he said it much better than I reproduced)

     

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    Shawn, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 7:31am

    Re:

    "My point is that you can not measure the good patents have done because you can never know what drugs wouldn't now exist if patents were not around."

    Im not conceding that what you say is true, but I would still ask . . . so what?

    What point are you passively trying to make about pharma patents? Since the positve benefits cannot be studied (so cannot be quantified at all according to you, which of course means thier actually be no positive benefit at all, we can never know . . . according to you) we should just accept they are good and forget it, or assume they are bad and stop it, or just accept we can never know and shut up about it? What is your point here?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 7:32am

    Re:

    I'm pretty sure there are lots of formerly poor individuals who had a eureka moment that now are much better off financially - because they had the protection of a patent. I would think their families probably have a different view of patents.


    Can you name any?

     

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    Easily Amused, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 7:50am

    Re:

    I would also offer that anyone who could be called an expert in their field would agree that they are still a student of it.

     

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  23.  
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    KH, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 7:56am

    Re: Re:

    Are you serious?

    Without patents....there would be no incentive for companies to invest MILLIONS into research. Patents protect the inventor and incentivize them to spend money, knowing they have a window to recoup their initial losses.

    Let me guess....you steal MP3's too. :shakeshead:

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 7:58am

    My point is that while you can talk about the negatives of patents in drug research (or anything else) are looking at only one side. You can't measure what would happen were there no patents, because of course they do exist. There is no way to quantify the good vs. bad. You can try, you can use smoke and mirrors, but it is very difficult to try to quantify a state that doesn't exist, but maybe should.

    Just because something can't be measured doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Einstein said "Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.)

    Its part of the discussion. In drug terms, we know some drugs will kill certain people because of their genetic makeup, but we also know that that very same drug will save some people's life. If the drug saves 100 people's lives while only killing 99, there is a positive (but the drug would never be on the market) if it saves a million lives while only killing 2 or 3, then maybe its worth it. Sure, it really sucks for those two or three, but there is benefit.

    Do patents make drugs more expensive? Of course. It generates profit. The question is, what happens if you take that profit motive down a few notches? Does it encourage less research? Does it mean a few novel drugs never come to market? That is the discussion. Are we better off with it than without it?

     

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    KH, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 7:59am

    Re: Re: Re:

    No kidding. Swanson Salsbury Steak and apple dumpling for him.

    The amount of new drugs would be significantly reduced without patents.

     

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  26.  
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    KH, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 8:02am

    Re:

    The standard answer around here is "make a better product and people will pay you for it". This answer typically comes from people who have never actually built anything in their lives.

    BINGO BINGO BINGO BINGO...we have a winner.


    These are same little nitwits, who think they should be able to download music for free, and that there are LOTS AND LOTS of new business models for free music.

    yet...they have never struggled to write a song...which only gets HARDER and HARDER...as more and more songs are written.

     

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    Joe, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 8:06am

    Yeah patents help out a ton in health care

    Health care costs are WAY to expensive, i'm find with companies patenting their drugs but the overall profits they reap due to their molecular compounds are outragious. $10,000 a year for a drug doesn't make any sense, and I realize it's based on the small target market and how much health insurance will cover, but producing the drug doesn't have that type of cost, nor does research.

    I say once a drug makes back research/production cost +10% a patent should be removed and opened up to the market at large. The 10% still offers a large amount of return, and i realize that regulations and testing make creating new drugs an issue, but honestly it's out of control at the moment and something needs to change.

     

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    angry dude, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 8:11am

    Re: Re:

    "Why not let the government come in and "buy" the patent off of the company, and then put it in the Public Domain?"

    Great idea !!!

    The way our government works US taxpayers will be screwed for trillions of dollars for worthless new drugs nobody needs, while useful drugs will never get a chance

    But you are not paying income taxes, punky ?

     

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    angry dude, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 8:17am

    Re: Yeah patents help out a ton in health care

    "I say once a drug makes back research/production cost +10% "

    Another great idea from techdirt lemming-punk population...

    AS far as I remember Fleming discovered penicillin by accident, looking at some dirthy dishes
    What kind of price tag would you put on this discovery ?
    Priceless ?

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 8:18am

    Joe, health care costs are expensive, for a drug company to manufacture a drug, except for some biologic and radiological drugs, the cost is pennies.

    Most drugs researched (the vast majority) are never brought to market because they don't work or they kill people. How does your 10% profit on an approved drug address those failed drugs?

    Drugs are just a part of the overall healthcare issue that contains many players from different industries. Drugs should be a net cost reducer with the idea that taking a pill for a dollar a day will be cheaper than paying for a week in intensive care because you had a stroke. Of course, when you throw in lifestyle drugs like Viagra, that kind of changes things.

    You can't fix the overall system by focusing on one small part of the equation, sure, there are improvements to be made in terms of cost (generic drugs should be purchased anytime they are available) but the fact is that health care spans quite a few industries and looking at only one area is doomed to fail.

    One thing I fear is that people only look at the cost of health care, not the outcome of health care.

     

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    Crabby (profile), Mar 12th, 2009 @ 8:23am

    Re: Re:

    "In the absence of patents, there may be fewer drugs, but there would be more of those drugs for people to buy on the cheap."

    And is that a good thing? "Sorry, Joe, there's no cure for cancer, but you can have all the aspirin you want..."

     

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    Sk8 Punk, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 8:24am

    Malaria shouldnt need treatment

    Of course we wouldnt need to treat malaria if hyperventilating ecofreaks hadnt got western countries to ban DDT... Millions of Africans starve and die to fuel western notions of environmental sustainabilty. One gallon of biodiesel takes the same amont of grain that the average African consumes in a year. But of course Europeans want to feel good about themselves so they subsidize African grain for biodiesel.

     

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    Pangolin (profile), Mar 12th, 2009 @ 8:26am

    Change the headline

    It says now:
    Scientist Makes Sure That No One Uses His Patent On Malaria Drug To Gouge The Poor

    Which I read as:

    Scientist makes sure no one uses his patent on malaria drug in order to gouge the poor.

    It's ambiguous at best. I suggest you change it to:

    Scientist makes sure that non one can use his patent to gouge the poor.

    That's very clear.

     

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  34.  
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    Yakko Warner, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 8:55am

    Re: Change the headline

    What keeps your proposed revision from being read as:

    "Scientist makes sure that no one can use his patent in order to gouge the poor"?

    Still holds the same ambiguity.

    If you're that confused, how about:

    "Scientist protects against gouging the poor with his drug patent"?

     

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  35.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 9:09am

    Re: Re:

    "yet...they have never struggled to write a song...which only gets HARDER and HARDER...as more and more songs are written."

    As more and more "musicians" copyright their material and sue the shit out of anyone who uses 2 of their notes, or anything that even sounds close to those 2 notes, or anyone who just happens to be playing their music too loud, or just so happens to have their music in the background of a video of some kid dancing, or is just some printer.

    Everyone who said "This answer typically comes from people who have never actually built anything in their lives." keeps forgetting that people who do own patents and copyrights keep arguing the same damn things. And you people honestly believe that everyone who comes here, and doesn't violently disagree with Mike, has never created a song, story, art, or new invention?

    Maybe if you people had payed attention in school and learned a little thing called reading comprehension, you would know that Mike has pointed out several experts and artists who agree with him.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 9:11am

    Re: Yeah patents help out a ton in health care

    ....... and +1000% to cover future lawsuits?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 9:19am

    I would also point out that industries are different. What may work for some industries might not work for others. In technology, a 20 year patent might be too long as technology changes so quickly. In drug research, considering how long it takes to bring a drug to market, it might be fine. Drawing parallels between industries might be incorrect at times.

     

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  38.  
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    Johnny English, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 9:24am

    Re: Re: Change the headline

    "Scientist protects against gouging the poor with his drug patent"?

    Ouch, those patents sure have sharp edges.

    How about: "Scientist uses his patent to ensure that other's won't gouge the poor"?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 9:25am

    Well, he is a scientist, so it only makes sense that he put his patent in a pocket protector.

     

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  40.  
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    Weird Harold, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 9:30am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Poeple with the patents and the copyright are free to do what this scientist did, and put it out there are a low price (or even "FREE!"). Nothing stops them from doing it, unless of course they did work for hire and don't own their own patent, their bad not mine.

    It all comes down to that simple issue: Why should the few who feel the need to give it all away be allowed to dictate to everyone else? Why should the entire patent, copyright, and trademark systems be tossed out the window because some people don't want to follow them? It would sound like people who have a vested interest in killing the model for their own profit.

     

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  41.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 9:44am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Every now and then we do hear a commenter say that the patent system should be removed, but I don't remember Mike saying that and I know I never said that. Plus no one here, now is saying that.

    We do have a huge problem with the patent system as it is now. It's used far to often as a big stick to remove competition and sometimes even people the owner just doesn't like. That's the part that bothers me.

    If I create a song, story, invention (I have done all three) I have to worry about someone coming at me with a lawsuit because my idea infringed in some obscure way that cannot be described in normal English on a patent, or copyright, that originally wasn't created for the field I'm working in. That's not helping creation, it's hurting it.

    We just want patents, copyright, and trademarks to go back to the way they were when they were created; to encourage innovation and prevent customer confusion.

     

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    TKM, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 9:53am

    Re: Weird Harold

    Yeah, Harold's right. It's not like there has ever been revolution made up almost entirely of students. Change comes from the wealthy!

     

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    rjk, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 11:52am

    The amount of new drugs would be significantly reduced without patents.

    what evidence is this based on?

    intuitively this makes sense... except that every time I look for evidence confirming this I find the counter-intuitive notion that less protection leads to more innovation and economic growth.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 11:52am

    Would it be correct to say that patents don't encourage innovation, "greed" does, patents encourages greed?

    Would innovation is just the by product (or tool) of someone driven by greed.?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 11:57am

    RJK, that is the problem. How can you look for evidence in a state that does not exist? America is the leading producer of new drugs, America has a patent system. How many drugs would be produced in America if we didn't have a patent system? You can't answer that question because we do have a patent system.

    How many drugs are produced in countries that don't have a patent system (or a system different from ours) if they did have a patent system? You can't answer that question because they don't.

    You can look at what happened to countries that introduced patent systems and try to extrapolate what happened, but things can be affecting innovation other than the patent system (things like government payment for drugs which lower the profits, geography, political climate.)

     

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  46.  
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    Jeff, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 12:09pm

    You DO know that Merck is own by the descendants of one Dr. Josef Mengele right?

     

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  47.  
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    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 1:38pm

    Re: angry dud

    AS far as I remember Fleming discovered penicillin by accident, looking at some dirthy dishes
    What kind of price tag would you put on this discovery ?
    Priceless ?

    How much did he get paid for it?

     

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  48.  
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    angry dude, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 1:46pm

    Re: Re: angry dud

    You are missing the point, punky

    The point is: "Patentability shall not be negated by the manner in which the invention was made"

    In other words, if, while sitting on your toilet, you discover the same thing that some multibillion R&D effort by some megacorp did it will make no difference in assigning a value to your invention

    And for a good reason

     

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    Mike (profile), Mar 12th, 2009 @ 1:54pm

    Re:

    My point is that while you can talk about the negatives of patents in drug research (or anything else) are looking at only one side. You can't measure what would happen were there no patents, because of course they do exist. There is no way to quantify the good vs. bad. You can try, you can use smoke and mirrors, but it is very difficult to try to quantify a state that doesn't exist, but maybe should.

    Actually, you can just as equally say that you cannot measure all of the things that were killed off or not even started because of patents...

    YOU are only looking at one side.

    But the truth is that you're wrong. You absolutely can look at what would happen without patents, because we have had societies without patents or with weak patents, and you can do comparisons -- both across different locations at the same time, and in the same location over time as patent rules change. And the impact is pretty clear. Patents do more damage than help.

    As for the specifics of how we could totally reinvent healthcare without patents, there are some very simple steps that could be taken... I'll be revealing some soon... I did have a fun dinner last night with a guy who was totally on the pro-pharma patent side until I laid out a different model, and the guy sat there stunned, and admitted that he was totally wrong and that he'd never even thought of it the way I presented... I'm sure that the same reasoning won't convince everyone, but I'm working on explaining all the details to convince as many people as possible.

     

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  50.  
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    Mike (profile), Mar 12th, 2009 @ 2:07pm

    Re:

    How many drugs are produced in countries that don't have a patent system (or a system different from ours) if they did have a patent system? You can't answer that question because they don't.

    Um. You can get a pretty good sense... if you actually looked at the research rather than insisting it was impossible:

    http://rationalitate.blogspot.com/2009/01/pharmaceutical-patents-not-so-necessary.htm l

     

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  51.  
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    Dog Lover, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 3:22pm

    Drug Profits

    Ok ... I buy eye drops for my dog that is $74 per 2.5ml Bottle. The active ingredient is .005%. The way I calculate it (I hope I'm wrong.) the active ingredient is worth $17,507,529.76 per OZ($592,000.00/ml). This drug was developed with public funds and Pfizer now profits from it at the expense of many elderly people.

    What in this world is worth $17 million a OZ? Although it is the only thing that controls the pressure in my dogs eyes as well as it does though. Perplexing

     

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  52.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 3:38pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Are you serious?
    Without patents....there would be no incentive for companies to invest MILLIONS into research.


    Are YOU serious? If that were true then there would have never been any cases of drug industry without patents and that has been shown otherwise.

    Let me guess....you steal MP3's too. :shakeshead:

    Why would anyone steal an MP3 when they could just copy it instead?

     

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  53.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 3:40pm

    Re: Yeah patents help out a ton in health care

    I'd have to agree with you. As a dialysis patient, I have to purchase phosphorous binders to take with every meal. These run $800/month, and even though Medicare covers most of it, it only does so for three months before you hit the gap in Part D coverage. Then what? Sadly, the 'then what' is Tums. So, again, why is the one binder $800/month, when Tums can be bought for $12/month?!

     

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  54.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 3:41pm

    Re: Re: Re: angry dud

    Still trolling, huh?

     

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  55.  
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    tired old rationale and excuses, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 6:22pm

    Axe to Grind?

    Lots of people here either work at big pharma, own its stock or are part of a PR firm.

     

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  56.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 8:10pm

    Mike, I stand by my statement, I understand there are cases that patents hurt innovation, I realize that, but you don't recognize or consider the good it seems.

    I look forward to read your ideas.

     

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  57.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 12th, 2009 @ 8:33pm

    Mike, I think you meant to post the actual book link, not that blog link.

    Have not read it all (chap 9) yet but on the Italy example of the number of drugs developed pre and post patents is used.

    Answer me this, in the US since the 80's, we have went through years and decades with a a lot of NDA's approved and years and decades of very few NDA's approved. Since the US patent system didn't change and obviously couldn't have been the cause of the high or the low, how do we know the Italy example results had anything to do with patents?

     

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  58.  
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    Mike (profile), Mar 13th, 2009 @ 3:00am

    Re:

    Mike, I stand by my statement, I understand there are cases that patents hurt innovation, I realize that, but you don't recognize or consider the good it seems.

    I've been waiting for some (any!) evidence of the good.

     

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  59.  
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    Mike (profile), Mar 13th, 2009 @ 3:02am

    Re:

    Answer me this, in the US since the 80's, we have went through years and decades with a a lot of NDA's approved and years and decades of very few NDA's approved. Since the US patent system didn't change and obviously couldn't have been the cause of the high or the low, how do we know the Italy example results had anything to do with patents?

    It is true that there may be other factors, but when you combine that study with similar studies done in other places in other time periods -- both looking at places where patents were introduced (pre/post) as well as looking across similar societies with different levels of patent protection at the same time -- *every single study* seems to show the same impact. So, at some point, you have to start to wonder... where's the actual evidence of a net benefit from patents?

     

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  60.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2009 @ 4:47am

    A Patent ensures the company that spent a lot of money discoverying and developing a new drug gets it's money back and hopefuly a profit = shareholders etc.

    No patent, no profit, no shareholder, no company discovering new drugs.

     

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  61.  
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    Pharming, Mar 13th, 2009 @ 7:31am

    Re:

    "spent a lot of money discoverying and developing"

    This is not always the case.
    There are times when a slight modification is made to an aging drug for the sole purpose of obtaining a new patent and its associated duration. The old drug is then declared deprecated and the new one pitched to doctors.

     

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  62.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2009 @ 8:17am

    Re:

    In Many cases, we the taxpayers are the ones who fund a significant part of the the development of the Drug.

     

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  63.  
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    chris (profile), Mar 13th, 2009 @ 8:24am

    Re:

    Currently, RnD and especially safety trials (I do not know the exact number) have cost millions of dollars in investor money. This is before advertising (if we get FDA approval), and manufacturing costs.

    Without patents and a licensing agreements, how would we recoup these costs? Why would we even bother with all these safety trials?


    the need for the FDA approval process to change is a central theme in "against intellectual monopoly". the current FDA approval process is an obstacle to eliminating drug patents.

     

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  64.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2009 @ 8:31am

    We are going to get rid of the FDA approval process? Really? Seems we are going in the exact opposite direction currently (and have been for about the last 20 or so years.

    Wouldn't eliminating patents also increase marketing to consumers and doctors as it would be much easier to manufacture me too drugs? (actually me me drugs) Somehow I don't see eliminating the FDA was part of Obama's idea. More regulation seems to be on the agenda, not less.

    Seems like Against Intellectual Monopoly saw marketing as bad also.

     

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  65.  
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    nasch, Mar 13th, 2009 @ 9:37am

    Re:

    The fact that there are people who have made more money because of patents is not sufficient to endorse the program. After all, there are people who have made more money because of things like ponzi schemes, unregulated credit default swaps, and selling ridiculous mortgages, all of which were permitted by our kind and loving federal government. The fact of some people making money is not, by itself, enough reason to keep something as part of our society.

     

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  66.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2009 @ 10:48am

    Personally, I don't think that money has any consideration for drugs. It is a tool, something used to create more of what we want.

    One view is that patents are used to restrict others from competing and decreases the new drugs that come to market. Were it not for patents, more drugs would be brought to market.

    The other view is that by allowing patents, you encourage companies to bring new drugs to market.

    The question is what method or system will bring new drugs to market, unless you want to bring in other issues like socialism or "universal healthcare" or same healthcare standards for all, which changes the ball game.

     

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  67.  
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    midigark, Mar 13th, 2009 @ 11:15am

    Re: Drug Profits

    Yea, same thing for printer ink. You did get the math wrong, but your heart and head is 100% in the right place.

    Kudos

    cost per ml = (cost/v)/c = $5920 per ml
    per liter = $5,920,000 per l
    (someone please swoop in and correct me if this is wrong)

    Still an unrealistic value placed on a product that probably costs $49.95 per 55gal drum to make.

    ===
    What gripes my seat cushion, is how a company that makes a drug that is keeping patients alive (or in an improved quality of life) can suddenly determine that this particular drug does not fit into it's business model any more. Drop it and then refuse to release the patent. "We've made enough profit here and sales are backsliding, time for 'us' to move along." Not even a letter of condolence to the families. Just the standard "one finger salute" to the dying and disabled.

    This is a Godlike power all companies should be held accountable for. The right of a company to create an EULA that removes them from all liabilities (hear me Microsoft?) is beyond all comprehension. If I have strayed, then let me get back on track.

    The patent system had it most complete failure when it started accepting purely purely hypothetical ideas and frivolous methods and handing out patents for these. When it started accepting common usage words as copyright or trademark (hear me Microsoft?). When it stopped requiring a working model and full plans of each item or device to be considered. (Is anything rejected anymore?)

    These are only the high points.

     

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  68.  
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    Mike (profile), Mar 13th, 2009 @ 1:33pm

    Re:

    No patent, no profit, no shareholder, no company discovering new drugs.

    Except... history shows that isn't true. So, why would it be true now if it wasn't true in the past?

    Plus, there are plenty of other business models to pay for better healthcare if you just bothered to think about them...

     

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  69.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2009 @ 7:47pm

    You might want to rethink the title of this article. It is easy to mistake its intended meaning as "Scientist Makes Sure That No One Uses His Patent On Malaria Drug, To Gouge The Poor"

     

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  70.  
    identicon
    bhajans, Mar 16th, 2009 @ 11:06am

    I don't normally comment on blogs but your post was a real call to action. Thank you for a great read, I will be sure to bookmark your site and check in now and again.How long it took you to get so much info ?? Well ,I really appreciate your Hard Effort in gathering so info much for us.!!
    Anyways thanks

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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