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. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Mar 2011 @ 11:22am

    Re: Re: Re: Drug Costs

    And of course any give drug company did ALL that R&D themselves; they had to invent GLASS before they could even store their reagents -- before that they were using their hands to hold the chemicals! Oh, and they had to invent computers, paper, ink, etc. -- because they never "glom[med] onto someone else's discovery"; they were BONA FIDE AMERICAN COMPANIES who INVENT EVERYTHING FROM SCRATCH -- they even invented FIRE, dammit, and that was after they willed themselves into existence; they never "stole" their own lives from their mothers' unwilling bodies, that would be "repackage[ing] for profit"!

    Jesus Christ, you folks disgust me; you think that those companies invented everything they sell single handed? What the hell are you smoking? Most of the time people go to other worlds; you're in another damned universe.

    Even if they had stomached the full R&D cost (oh, and that patent-related costs had nothing to do with the cost of , delivering the drug), and if you somehow include sales as a form of "R&D" which you apparently think makes sense, that would still imply that the drug prices should be proportional to the actual cost; that is, they should earn back their R&D costs, plus a tidy profit -- tidy, not obscene, not grotesque, not ludicrous.

    So can you even sensibly begin to discuss the asked price of the drugs in question in the context of their actual production cost, in light of the 25 year window we're talking about here?

    Oh, and while we're at it, can you explain why it's okay to let people die for the sake of profit, or can you justify defrauding people by telling them (or paying doctors to tell them) they need drugs which they actually do not (and are damned expensive) and probably have harmful side effects?

    Probably not; I get the impression you'll just ignore this post like you ignore anything else you don't like to acknowledge or can't readily argue against.

    What a worthless waste of oxygen talking to you would be.

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