by Mike Masnick
Thu, Mar 12th 2009 5:10am
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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