For many years, we've been pointing out that the big pharmaceutical industry has become so focused, and so reliant, on patents that they've lost sight
of the plot. They don't even consider other potential business models or, you know, keeping people healthy. These days, everything
is about getting and extending patents, allowing them to charge exorbitant markup rates on drugs around the globe. It's now reached the point that even The Onion is deftly mocking big pharma's patent focus
, with a story titled: "New Pfizer Breakthrough Miraculously Extends Lifespan Of Near-Death Patents." Here's a snippet:
“At Pfizer, patents always come first. Our primary goal is, and always will be, keeping them alive and healthy for as long as possible. And that’s why we couldn’t be happier to announce this wonderful development.” Hilty added that nothing causes Pfizer officials more distress than seeing a once robust patent expire at a young age, a “terrible tragedy” that allows dozens of generic manufacturers to copy it and offer pharmaceuticals to customers far more cheaply.
It's both funny and depressing at the same time, because it's pretty damn accurate. It's disappointing just how far the pharmaceutical industry has gone over the years. Back in 1929, one of the leaders in the pharmaceutical industry, George Merck, declared
We try never to forget that medicine is for the people. It is not for the profits. The profits follow, and if we have remembered that, they have never failed to appear. The better we have remembered it, the larger they have been.
That's a noble position to take. That's not how the pharmaceutical industry acts today. At all.