Drug Firms Freaking Out Over Expiring Patents

from the live-by-the-patent... dept

Glyn Moody points us to a discussion about how the big pharma firms are freaking out because their key patents are expiring, and they've failed to develop any new patentable drugs in a while. This is leading the usual patent supporters to worry and fret. Of course, the whole thing is backwards. As Moody points out, expiring patents should be a cause for celebration, not dismay. It means the public is getting access to all sorts of important medicines at much more reasonable prices. That's good news.

The real issue here is that for years patents massively distorted the healthcare market. It hasn't been about keeping people healthy at all. It's been about finding patentable drugs to extract monopoly rents (often at the expense of actually keeping people healthy). Perhaps, if we can get past this silly and short-sighted focus on patentable medicine as being the key component of healthcare, we can start seeing smarter companies develop smarter business models that actually align interests: firms that recognize there's tremendous value in actually keeping people healthy, rather than trying to sell them a tiny pill.

If you start looking at the economic research behind healthcare, you begin to realize that the economic incentives around healthcare are totally screwed up. The reports have shown that keeping people healthy for longer contributes billions, if not trillions to the economy. If firms can't figure out how to profit from keeping people healthy, they're not paying attention. But that's never been the focus of our healthcare policy, and it's a shame. If today's drug companies are felled by their overreliance on patents, perhaps we can finally move on to rethinking healthcare towards making people healthy and improving the economy at the same time... rather than the current structure that appears to do neither of those things all too often.

Filed Under: business models, drugs, health care, healthcare, patents, pharma


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  1. icon
    Jay (profile), 10 Mar 2011 @ 8:33am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I want to make sure that we're on the same page before I go off...

    You want me to feel sorry for Pfizer so that they can make obscene monopoly rents and control drugs that can help keep people alive.

    You want me to believe that this doesn't have a downfall?

    You want me to believe that because a patent allows one type of research, consumers can't make a decision from the generics?

    ...

    All this leads to profit?

    I'm about... (>years of research, testing, and development to bring a medication to market

    Once a compound is formed, that knowledge benefits everyone in the form of allowing various forms of making newer drugs. Once you know the synthesis of a drug, you can build off of that. And the beneficial use of having consumer choice is ignored in this statement for some supposed belief that the fixed costs in all this = better research.

    comparatively sort[sic] patent time is a pretty good trade to get the research moving forward more quickly

    I laughed. Not only does this not pay attention to how ridiculous patent law has gotten, it also seems to believe that Big Pharma is doing some good in the community. This is not the case. India is hit with this from quite a few points to make higher rents on pharmaceuticals.

    So if this is causing deaths in the fact that NO ONE can afford these medicines, then your entire "for profit" position is morally bankrupt.

    What we actually need is compertition. What we need is for people to understand that those legal risks aren't because of some offensive need to get paid, but to actually help people and avoid the factory from blowing up from getting the formula wrong.

    Think of the children...

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