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Nobel Laureate Attacks Medical Intellectual Property

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 7 years ago | from the corporate-bottom-line-is-red dept.

Patents 449

An anonymous reader writes "Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, who was fired by the World Bank blasted drug patents in an editorial in the British Medical Journal titled 'Scrooge and intellectual property rights.' 'Knowledge is like a candle, when one candle lights another it does not diminish its light.' In medicine, patents cost lives. The US patent for turmeric didn't stimulate research, and restricted access by the Indian poor who actually discovered it hundreds of years ago. 'These rights were intended to reduce access to generic medicines and they succeeded.' Billions of people, who live on $2-3 a day, could no longer afford the drugs they needed. Drug companies spend more on advertising and marketing than on research. A few scientists beat the human genome project and patented breast cancer genes; so now the cost of testing women for breast cancer is 'enormous.'"

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/. TROLL ATTACKS NOBEL LAUREAT (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17362542)

MOD THE TROLL DOWN!!!

Hi, my name is Lizzy Faire (1, Insightful)

Travoltus (110240) | more than 7 years ago | (#17363020)

and I say to the poor, "Let them eat cake".

Your right to live should depend entirely on how much money you have.

[neo con parody off]

Patented Breast Cancer Genes? (2, Insightful)

OverlordQ (264228) | more than 7 years ago | (#17362552)

How can you patent something that is a 'naturally' (using that term loosely) occurring genetic abnormality?

Re:Patented Breast Cancer Genes? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17362570)

You can patent anything if your government is stupid enough to pass the laws.

Re:Patented Breast Cancer Genes? (2, Interesting)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 7 years ago | (#17362642)


>You can patent anything if your government is stupid enough to pass the laws.

If people allow their government to do the cowardly thing and obey US laws, even though they are not actually subject to them, maybe they deserve to die.

Re:Patented Breast Cancer Genes? (4, Insightful)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 7 years ago | (#17362960)

You assume the United States is the only one with a stupid government.

Re:Patented Breast Cancer Genes? (0, Flamebait)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 7 years ago | (#17362986)


>You assume the United States is the only one with a stupid government.

Not at all. On the other hand, I presume that other nations have people who will stand up to tyranny -- USAn's are already defeated.

Re:Patented Breast Cancer Genes? (3, Informative)

mattjb0010 (724744) | more than 7 years ago | (#17362590)

How can you patent something that is a 'naturally' (using that term loosely) occurring genetic abnormality?

click [ornl.gov]

Re:Patented Breast Cancer Genes? (1)

ArcticCelt (660351) | more than 7 years ago | (#17362610)

When do people will revolt and hang those bastards?

Re:Patented Breast Cancer Genes? (1)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 7 years ago | (#17362814)

I got a rope. Anyone with a pitchfork and a torch?

Re:Patented Breast Cancer Genes? (3, Insightful)

contrapunctus (907549) | more than 7 years ago | (#17363048)

When you ask? When money is less important than someone else's life. As individuals, we may be 'good' but collectively, voting with dollars (and expecting return on investments in our retirement accounts), we are 'evil'.

Re:Patented Breast Cancer Genes? (4, Informative)

cnettel (836611) | more than 7 years ago | (#17362614)

It's the detection methods and the connection to breast cancer, not the nucleotide sequence itself, that's covered by the patent. Compare this with the original discovery of blood groups for transfusions, that was patentable as well. Coming up with good protocols for inducing the proper antibodies in animals (one way to do it), for example.

In this case, the specific sequences connected to the disease was not common knowledge beforehand. In addition, you have to come up with relevant primers to amplify the relevant sequence in a specific, yet reproducible, manner to aid detection. I don't think anyone has really tried to challenge the exact scope of the patent, as it might be possible to circumvent it by changing the method or even trying to purify and detect the protein product instead. (However, that would NOT be a trivial thing to do, much harder than the current genetic test.)

Re:Patented Breast Cancer Genes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17362682)

However, that would NOT be a trivial thing to do, much harder than the current genetic test

AND it would be patentable.

Re:Patented Breast Cancer Genes? (1)

Kensai7 (1005287) | more than 7 years ago | (#17362656)

Detection and treating methods can be patented. A malady and its underpinnings not. That said, patents indeed slow down low-cost access to pharmaceuticals.

Re:Patented Breast Cancer Genes? (2, Insightful)

kunji_da_man (1043542) | more than 7 years ago | (#17362662)

probably means that the particular strand of genes that causes breast cancer was found first by the few scientists. They patent this genetic sequence as their IP. When we are looking for breast cancer abnormality and use a machine that examines gene sequences, it is basically looking for that sth these few cheap ass loserlies patented. If there aint no other gene sequence that causes breast cancer for all of life as we know it, they own practically all remaining hope for the breast cancer afflicted life on earth. Kunz

Re:Patented Breast Cancer Genes? (1)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 7 years ago | (#17363010)

it's like the silly one-click patents... they didn't patent the "gene".. just the application of sciences to display "that" gene and then act on it to cure cancer. Current state of the art shows there's only 1 way to read a specific gene and the patent would be open enough...like the one click... that it covers "all" approaches regarding genes and a specific type of cancer. More like the recent Microsoft RSS feed, they "jumped ahead" of the govt researchers to patent the method of using the information before it could be free... like MS is patenting all sorts of RSS things so that even though they didn't create it, they "own" all the uses... I think in Medicine it will simply be taken when it gets too bad... after all, everybody cries how the govt isn't spending enough on Aids, Cancer, etc.. yet the money that does get spent gets spend on R&D... the "product development" is neatly compartmentalized so the "free" research gets patented as quickly as possible.

Re:Patented Breast Cancer Genes? (1, Interesting)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#17362732)

How can you patent something that is a 'naturally' (using that term loosely) occurring genetic abnormality?

      In the US, you can patent anything, apparently. Not only that, but I sure as hell am willing to bet the owner of the material that was used to "find" the genes in question or his/her family hasn't received a penny's worth of royalties...No, they got their $50 for participating in the study. Thank you, bye bye.

Re:Patented Breast Cancer Genes? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17362982)

How can you patent something that is a 'naturally' (using that term loosely) occurring genetic abnormality?

You'll never see a patent claim written for "an anomaly." No one wants to patent a gene that causes a disease - regardless of whether the anomaly is naturally or artificially induced.

What you will see are patent claims for new inventions that rely on the discovery of such an anomaly and its effects. Depending on what the anomaly does and how you want to treat it, here are some sample claims for such inventions:

  • "A method of treating [a particular disease], comprising: [some kind of genetic engineering method to fix the anomaly]."
  • "A method of treating [a particular disease], comprising: [some method of blocking the expression of the anomalous gene]."
  • "A composition useful for treating [a particular disease], comprising: [some kind of protein that adheres to the anomalous gene and blocks its expression]."
  • "A method of treating [a particular disease], comprising: [administering the correct protein that the anomalous gene isn't expressing]."
  • "A method of treating [a particular disease], comprising: [some method of socking up a disease-causing protein product of the anomalous gene]."
  • "A composition useful for treating [a particular disease], comrpising: [some kind of protein that socks up a disease-causing product of the anomalous gene]."
...etc.

Similarly, no one can patent "turmeric." Last I checked, "turmeric" isn't novel, as any Durkee's spice catalog from the 1960's or so will indicate. But a company might discover that turmeric has a previously unknown therapeutic property, and may patent the use of turmeric for that purpose.

Sorry, folks - the patent system is rarely as insane as extremists make it out to be.

- David Stein

Re:Patented Breast Cancer Genes? (4, Interesting)

DigitalRaptor (815681) | more than 7 years ago | (#17363030)

Ask Monsanto. They have patents on over 11,000 crops, only about 10% of which are genetically modified. The rest are natural varieties, just as God / Nature created them.

Of course, that could be because everyone that had anything to do with that aspect of the government at that time was a former Monsanto or former Monsanto subsidiary executive (for instance, John Asscroft, former Attorney General).

When you "own" the government, in time you own everything else, too.

Re:Patented Breast Cancer Genes? (4, Informative)

troll -1 (956834) | more than 7 years ago | (#17363098)

Maybe because Article I, section 8 of the Constitution allows Congress to grant exclusive rights to authors and inventors for their respective "writings and discoveries".

Third Post (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17362554)

See Subject.

Yeah, but... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17362576)

...the guy who originally lit the candle didn't spend millions of dollars figuring out how to light it. I'm all for equal access, but if you're going to spend all this money doing something then it's only fair to be given the chance to reap the rewards.

Oh, great - I don't have mod points (-1, Offtopic)

wasted (94866) | more than 7 years ago | (#17362878)

You go and post something intelligent, insightful, and sensible on a day I DON'T have mod points. And when I DO have mod points, we have three days of news for losers, stuff that really doesn't matter once you venture out of Mom's basement.

Re:Oh, great - I don't have mod points (0, Offtopic)

donaldm (919619) | more than 7 years ago | (#17362954)

Unfortunately I don't have any mod points either, having lost them because the last three days were boring.

Re:Yeah, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17362880)

What about all of the medical research that is backed by public loans and grants?

Re:Yeah, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17363102)

Isn't that pretty much all medical research?

Re:Yeah, but... (4, Insightful)

Yahweh Doesn't Exist (906833) | more than 7 years ago | (#17363104)

>the guy who originally lit the candle didn't spend millions of dollars figuring out how to light it

yeah and the guy who came up with the medical patent didn't learn everything he knew from other people, then get a shitload of government funding to do his research. oh wait, yes he did.

Become a planet! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17362580)

Self-sufficient planets like Unicron need not patents! They speak binary!

Learn lojban. ko cilre

So now you know (-1, Offtopic)

WillRobinson (159226) | more than 7 years ago | (#17362594)

the rest of the story, how 1% of the worlds population owns 90% of its wealth.

Re:So now you know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17362618)

Some neo-neanderthal will be along to call you a "puke liberal" any second now and explain how all the data that indicates the massive imbalance of wealth distribution is flawed, wrong, and doesn't matter anyway.

Re:So now you know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17362678)

Some neo-neanderthal will be along to call you a "puke liberal" any second now and explain how all the data that indicates the massive imbalance of wealth distribution is flawed, wrong, and doesn't matter anyway.


If you really were liberal-minded, you'd quickly see the logic of the "neo-neanderthal", but that will never happen because you're a mere leftist with a conservative style of thinking.

se mabla cmaci (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17362640)

Way to pull that number from your butt. Actually, I heard the top 64 people worldwide have 69% of the wealth.

absolutely (1)

WillRobinson (159226) | more than 7 years ago | (#17362664)

Yes its pulled from there. And the value does not matter, what matters is those with the gold rules, and continue to make their own rules, to control the rest of us meager hard workers just making a living.

Re:So now you know (0)

tfiedler (732589) | more than 7 years ago | (#17362712)

Actually it's more like the richest 1% own 40%, to quote one of your own lefty, soft-headed rags, the guardian...

http://money.guardian.co.uk/news_/story/0,,1965033 ,00.html [guardian.co.uk]

And that stat is from the equally dimwitted United Nations.

However, the article does makes a point which you'll probably fail to recognize, and that is that wealth isn't a static pool but a dynamically changing pot, one which has GROWN over the years. The key to improving lives is not the punitive redistribution of wealth but the provision of opportunity to the people in impoverished regions so that they have the ability to fairly compete. But remember, competition implies the opportunity to fail as well.

Free market economics works, period, socialism does not. And before you spout off about the evils of western economic policy, realize this; anyone that compares free market ideals to prevailing western policies is a moron as they obviously have the economics understanding of a child.

Re:So now you know (0, Offtopic)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 7 years ago | (#17362720)

the rest of the story, how 1% of the worlds population owns 90% of its wealth.

Of course you know that's an exaggeration, but just out of curiosity, why do you think that (small percentage) should NOT own (larger percentage) of the world's wealth? Personally, I'd rather live in that world where I can move as high as my talent can take me, than live in a world of enforced "equality" that really means transferring money from the doers to the takers.

Re:So now you know (1)

Cal Paterson (881180) | more than 7 years ago | (#17362790)

So, what? We're argueing in favour of grossly disproportionate incomes for the wealthy and poverty in the third world.

It's easy to misrepresent what people are saying. There's even a name for it; the Straw Man [wikipedia.org] logical fallacy. Bear in mind that people who point out the "1% population, 90% wealth" statistic do so because it is shocking, scary and unsettling. Not because they advocate communism.

Re:So now you know (2, Insightful)

edwdig (47888) | more than 7 years ago | (#17362820)

Personally, I'd rather live in that world where I can move as high as my talent can take me, than live in a world of enforced "equality" that really means transferring money from the doers to the takers.

I certainly agree with your preferences, but we don't really live in that world. Becoming extremely rich and/or powerful usually means being born into that position, or some combination of luck and breaking the law without being caught.

All most people want is the corruption from the top removed, and a little safety net at the bottom so that a string of bad luck doesn't destroy your life.

Re:So now you know (1)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 7 years ago | (#17362904)

Becoming extremely rich and/or powerful usually means being born into that position, or some combination of luck and breaking the law without being caught.

I'm not saying I'm "extremely" rich, but I've done pretty well in life by most standards. It had nothing to do with luck or breaking the law (nor being born wealthy). In fact, of all the rich people I know, I only know one that inherited their wealth (four kids split $160 million). I venture to say that, at least here in the US, that's far more typical.

Generally speaking, rich people are rich because they chose to be that way through hard work and sacrifice. But, for whatever reason, no one believes that. Maybe because the media only shows the Paris Hiltons of the world, when most of the working rich do their thing in obscurity.

Re:So now you know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17362884)

that really means transferring money from the doers to the takers.

Ironically, the people with the most money usually aren't "doers" at all. Instead, they are arbitrageurs of one form or another, set up in positions where they are able to skim a take from of the efforts of the actual doers.

bingo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17363034)

...what you said, those guys and the ones who get a perpetual "patent" on printing up "official currency" and then get to loan it with interest. Those are the really rich, although they manage to manipulate events and stay off the forbe's list and outside the limelight. Gates and Buffet are pikers, street beggars, lemonaid vendors, compared to the central bankers.

I agree with your view (1)

WillRobinson (159226) | more than 7 years ago | (#17362886)

But you see, those who are there, have built barriers where your talent will not allow you to get there. Patents on things like this are an excellent example of the barriers.

I felt the same way as you, that nothing in the world could stop me, but this started to fade away after 40.

I hate being a spelling Nazi, but.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17362602)

It is spelled laureate. With an e.

The more things change ... (3, Informative)

Trailwalker (648636) | more than 7 years ago | (#17362612)

Things haven't changed all that much since the days of theChamberlen [wikipedia.org] family.

Re:The more things change ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17362676)

Wow. They were really assholes.

Think of all the women and children that died from complications during childbirth over the hundred years they kept that a secret. What fuckers.

If there is a Hell, hopefully there is a special torment reserved for selfish, evil bastards like them.

The argument for patents.... (2, Interesting)

TheGreatHegemon (956058) | more than 7 years ago | (#17362646)

While I am no expert, nor am I really FOR these kinds of patents there is a valid reasoning TO have them. Primarily, it is reasoned that patents, including intellectual, drive innovation as people can actually make a profit on their discoveries as opposed to just being copy-catted. Of course, in practice, it doesn't quite work that way.

Re:The argument for patents.... (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 7 years ago | (#17362710)

actually make a profit on their discoveries as opposed to just being copy-catted

      They get "copy-catted" ANYWAY. Change an OH here, add a double bond there, and voila - same or better pharmacodynamics, and I can patent my own penis enlarging medication...

For greed or good? (1)

baffled (1034554) | more than 7 years ago | (#17362966)

Do you honestly believe most innovators are fueled by the enticement of economic wealth, and not by the reward of doing something great for society?

Re:For greed or good? (1)

compm375 (847701) | more than 7 years ago | (#17363090)

The current patent system doesn't prevent people from licensing their IP for free, so those looking to do something good for society can do that.

Re:The argument for patents.... (1)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 7 years ago | (#17363058)

the problem is that much of the research is at least co-funded by big govt grants or professors and students from public university... all the taxpayers help with the discoveries... it would seem unfair that only one company would get the profits.

eminent domain (5, Insightful)

Speare (84249) | more than 7 years ago | (#17362660)

If there's one area where I think Eminent Domain applies, it is to this sort of "property." If the pharmaceutacals "own" a cancer drug, an AIDS drug, a heart valve palsy drug, then fucking TAKE it from them and give it to the world. If they have to be compensated under eminent domain laws, then give them a twenty year extension on their stupid penis pills, their fat-buster pills, or their toenail fungus cures. If they can do it with your house to make a bypass, then they should be able to do it with something that will really benefit society.

Interesting comparision... (4, Insightful)

jonr (1130) | more than 7 years ago | (#17362690)

Why not? If you can forcefully let individual "sell" his property for the greater good, why not a corporation? What is the difference between taking a property from a house- or landowner and a pharmaceutical company?

Re:Interesting comparision... (1)

Kizor (863772) | more than 7 years ago | (#17362766)

The company has the resources to make you hurt if it wants to. And governments need to be able to ignore that. Mod grandparent up already.

Re:Interesting comparision... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17362782)

What is the difference between taking a property from a house- or landowner and a pharmaceutical company?

the pharmaceutical company gives larger bribes^H^H^H^H^H^H campaign contributions.

Re:eminent domain (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17362894)

Oh, that's just BRILLIANT.

If you build a hope and the government comes and takes it away from you, you're probably not going to bother building any more houses.

Re:eminent domain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17362950)

I work for a pharma co. It is definitely a business, not a charity to heal the world. If you don't like our new cancer drugs, don't take them - take the ones that are now off-patent and available as generics. If you want to have free drugs, fund them yourselves.

Re:eminent domain (4, Informative)

sam_handelman (519767) | more than 7 years ago | (#17362976)

The parent is thinking along the correct lines but is missing something very fundamental. "Intellectual property" IS NOT PROPERTY. The fourth amendment does not apply! Since a patent is merely a privelege granted by the government, the government can simply give a more restricted privelege.

  That said, there's no need to take away their patents, by eminent domain or otherwise - you can force Compulsory Licensing [wikipedia.org] on them. There's ample precedent for this. The present system of compulsory licensing is simply inadequate to bring, for example, AIDS cocktails into the affordable range for poor Africans, so it needs to be strengthened.

  Obviously, strengthening compulsory licensing of patents would cut into the profits of the pharmaceutical companies (duh), so they're going to fight it tooth and nail; but it's the simplest most conservative solution to the underlying problem.

  I, myself, think that a better solution would be to stop offering patents on drugs at all (as it is basically an immoral practice, as TFA points out) and to provide, not "prizes", but "grants" that move beyond basic biology research (presently funded by grants) and into drug discovery. Elementary math indicates that the cost savings would be huge.

  The government bureaucracy might grow somewhat, although doing a good job of awarding patents (which they don't do) probably wouldn't be that much less bureaucracy than doing a good job of administering drug discovery grants - but the equally distasteful private bureaucracies that currently parasitize themselves off of government graft would atrophy - which any real libertarian (as opposed to someone who claims a libertarian ideology in order to justify their slavish support for the uber-rich) would have to support.

Re:eminent domain (1)

sam_handelman (519767) | more than 7 years ago | (#17363166)

Gah.

  *Fifth* amendment. A little too much of the vino with Christmas dinner.

Re:eminent domain (2, Insightful)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 7 years ago | (#17363006)

Last I heard (IIRC, NPR's Science Friday), there are more "enhancement" pills and the like being researched than there are medicines being researched that the developing world needs, such as anti-malaria pills. Developing and testing those medicines cost money, and the only way to cost-justify developing medicines is to develop medicines for people that can pay for it.

Re:eminent domain (-1, Troll)

hxnwix (652290) | more than 7 years ago | (#17363024)

Not developing life-saving drugs would then be deontic for publically held companies. Why should they directly violate their fudiciary duty when they could instead focus on profitable drugs? How would you quantify the usefulness of a stolen vital drug in terms of the suffering inflicted by extension of patents for the rest?

Here's an idea: the people could own drugs that they develop. If the government funds it, the government owns it. If the government identifies a method by which existing herbs & spices can be used to treat breasts, the people get to marinate in the profits. If a private company does - why then, it's all they can eat. MMMmmMMMmmm. Who lahks chickan wangs?? But seriously, chicken wings are pretty good and I like chick breasts in my mouth. Git in mah gaping maw!

But really, we could apply the policy to synthetic drugs. I know I'd like to treat some titties to something special. Bam!!!

I'm actually looking down in shame, but, oh me, A.T.T.I.C!

SHAZAM!!!!

Re:eminent domain (3, Interesting)

troll -1 (956834) | more than 7 years ago | (#17363046)

Unfortunately it's pretty difficult to argue for patent reform right now. Because of technology and drugs, life expectancy has never been higher. If any changes are going to be made, congress will have to make those changes. And the drug companies are likely to argue the reason there have ever been so many life-saving drugs is because the patent system works. And congress is not likely to 'fix' something it doesn't perceive as majorly 'broken'.

Throw into the mix all the money the drug companies have given to politicians [opensecrets.org] to help maintain the status quo and you begin to see how difficult it is to make changes.

Re:eminent domain (2, Insightful)

QuantumFTL (197300) | more than 7 years ago | (#17363170)

Right, because the knowledge that any "really important" cure will be immediately appropriated by the government will have no negative effects on companies spending time and money to develop those kinds of cures in the future.

Alternatives to Intellectual Property (4, Interesting)

randall_burns (108052) | more than 7 years ago | (#17362692)

The real question is what would be a better way to reward inventors than intellectual property arrangements. IP doesn't reward creation of an invention-but its restriction. It is clear that major corporate interests have abuse IP protection in various ways. The problem is that an alternative system isn't exactly obvious. The economist Henry George proposed replacing the system of patents and copyrights with a system of prize awards over 100 years ago. However, determining what inventions should be rewarded is still going to be difficult.

Correct. medical X-prizes (1)

zogger (617870) | more than 7 years ago | (#17363150)

Public funding for successful cures. Not treatments, cures. No cure, no loot, and that makes it perfectly clear what should or should not be tried for, by public pressure. Winner take all. Smartest guys win. Make the cash payout large enough, you'll get teams trying, and they won't have to waste money on advertising/marketing/fancy offices/corporate jets/lobbying/bribing, any of that crap they do now, just the lab and the brains... No suits or skimming needed or even applicable. The winners take their payout and try for the next prize or whatever else they want to do, because the winning formula gets public domained,it gets the anti-patent treatment in other words, then any generic company can offer it so the cost will be low over all and instant competition to keep it low.

    An alternative from the private sector (this is wild but might work and I think millions of people would participate) would be a 50/50 split, using a lottery. 50% for lottery prizes, the other 50% going to the medical x-prize. No tax money needed that way, no institutional money, and it's been proven that lotteries attract cash. Again,let the people, the potential customers for medical "stuff" we are talking about, determine what gets funded or not based on their own self interest.

    Another way is just a private bounty system to fund the x-prize, interested people, other businesses (I have mentioned insurance companies before in this regard as one such business), etc. are free to donate to the winners purse, these monies also possibly coming from what is normally donated for "research" anyway, you see them now, this society, that society, this medical foundation, that one, jerry's kids, etc. Cut to the chase and fund only cures,and things will change. Keep it the way it is now where we give patents for mostly treatments-and it will stay the way it is now. Nothing will change. You can't get different results until you first change the way you go about what you are doing, doing the same thing over and over again will just get you..the same thing.

Medical Industry (2, Interesting)

Bios_Hakr (68586) | more than 7 years ago | (#17362698)

>>'Knowledge is like a candle, when one candle lights another it does not diminish its light.'

Apparently he was also a Girl Scout at some point...

The entire medical industry is broken. Probably to the point where it cannot be fixed. Government regulation could go a long way, but who really wants a bigger government?

1. Stop advertising drugs on TV and in magazines. You are not a doctor. You shouldn't be "asking your doc" if zotramiphil is right for your itchy ass.

2. Stop developing drugs for stupid shit. Yes, lots of people have Type2 diabetes. We already have a cure for that; a treadmill. Stop wasting money to develop a drug *just* to make money off a stupid disease.

2a. Why can an old guy take a drug to make his dick hard when I can't smoke a joint?

3. If a company develops a truly amazing cure/drug, the government should step in and buy it for the cost of development. The drug should them be distributed for the cost of production inside the US and for twice the cost of production outside the US. Once the costs are recouped, it should be just the cost of production inside and outside the US.

4. Get rid of medical lawsuits. A judge and jury have no idea if what a doc did was right or wrong. Appoint a commission of well-respected docs and have all medical complaints go through that office. If the commission decides the doc was wrong, then the doc should be fired and the patient recouped in a fair way.

4a. Make hospitals stop charging so much. Why does it cost $200 for an x-ray and $10 for a tylenol? Because of lawsuits.

5. Make US employers provide health insurance. Yes, all of them. Call it the cost of doing business in the USA.

5a. For every non-US employee a company contracts or subcontracts, make them pay money directly to the federal government's unemployment fund. In other words, a non-US employee working for a US company still gets taxed at the same rate as a US employee would.

6. Identify the hypochondriacs and truly sick people. Fix them. I go to the doc, on average, once a year for a checkup. Maybe once every 3 years for an illness. My kids get checkups and rarely go to the ER for being sick or hurt. If you or your family member is going to the hospital every week, something (lifestyle or mental) needs to be fixed.

7. Pay for any improvements by taking money out of the DoD. Stipulate that the DoD has to maintain current manning levels and quality of life. All money taken from their budget should be from cruft (how much does DoD spend on office supplies) or from special projects (Do we really need the JSF right after the F-22).

7a. Reduce the funding to every government agency by 2% per year until the customers start complaining. Then, analyze the complaints to see if better customer service could fix the problem. Fire assholes and slashdoters. We pay for 8 hours, fucking work them.

8. Threaten corporate shareholders with jail for withholding good drugs at low cost.

9. Mandate one special project for major companies. Wanna do business? Then you have to work on a cure for AIDS.

Re:Medical Industry (1)

Nasarius (593729) | more than 7 years ago | (#17362772)

2. Stop developing drugs for stupid shit. Yes, lots of people have Type2 diabetes. We already have a cure for that; a treadmill. Stop wasting money to develop a drug *just* to make money off a stupid disease.
But that's the nature of research. Yeah, sometimes it can be targeted, but very often you're exploring some area and discover something completely unexpected, which has a different application.
3. If a company develops a truly amazing cure/drug, the government should step in and buy it for the cost of development. The drug should them be distributed for the cost of production inside the US and for twice the cost of production outside the US. Once the costs are recouped, it should be just the cost of production inside and outside the US.
And encourage private pharmaceutical companies to focus even more on penis pills? Bad idea, generally.
9. Mandate one special project for major companies. Wanna do business? Then you have to work on a cure for AIDS.
Now that's interesting. I'd combine ideas #3 and #9 and give out large grants for research (we don't do nearly enough of this, and the national labs we have are embarrassingly underfunded), with the provision that any resulting patents are owned by the US government.

Re:Medical Industry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17362774)

"2a. Why can an old guy take a drug to make his dick hard when I can't smoke a joint?"

Does your dick get hard when you smoke a joint?

Re:Medical Industry (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17362776)

If I were an American, which I'm not and which I assume you are because of the jsf bit, and if you were running for president, which you presumably are not, then I would vote for you...

that little to do list of yours would go a very long way.

may I suggest a free bicycle for everyone and a 10$ / gallon gas price, the extra profits on the gas to go in to education and TOTAL separation of state and church, no more corporate contributions to politicians coffers on penalty of 35 to life ?

jacquesm posting anonymously can't seem to remember my login right now :)

merry xmas !

Re:Medical Industry (3, Informative)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 7 years ago | (#17362780)

2. Stop developing drugs for stupid shit. Yes, lots of people have Type2 diabetes. We already have a cure for that; a treadmill. Stop wasting money to develop a drug *just* to make money off a stupid disease.


Oh, how I wish I could get rid of my Type II diabetes just by getting more exercise. I love to walk and often walk several miles a day, but I still have to take my pill morning and night. Part of Type II diabetes is resistance to insulin, so that even if you have what would normally be enough, you still have blood sugar trouble. I hope that someday, preferably soon, you can learn from personal experience that a treadmill isn't a cure for diabetes.

Re:Medical Industry (2, Insightful)

Bios_Hakr (68586) | more than 7 years ago | (#17362898)

Exceptions to every rule...

However, the vast majority of health problems in the US are caused by lifestyle. Not everyone who has lung cancer smokes. However, most of them do. No everyone with heart disease eats fatty food. Most of them do.

Not all diabetes can be cured with exercise and diet. However, if you are overweight and have a bad diet, then that should be addressed before a doc whips out his prescription pad.

>>I love to walk and often walk several miles a day

You could walk all day long and still be out of shape. Every adult needs 45+ minutes of 80% max heart rate exercise 5+ days a week. Walking will rarely get you above 60% MHR. That's fine for losing weight, but no good for overall fitness.

Look at the recommendations for body composition. A 6' male should weigh no more than 170lbs. At 190lbs he would be obese. At what, 210, he'd be morbidly obese. How many 6' males do you know who weigh 170? 190? 210? I'm willing to bet that number ramps up exponentially. Where do you think you fit in?

Once weight and diet are analyzed and fixed, then, and only then, should a doctor prescribe a drug. Too many people take the drug and never fix the problem.

Re:Medical Industry (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 7 years ago | (#17363158)

Look at the recommendations for body composition.


As far as I can tell, not one of them takes into account what kind of shape you're in. A 6 foot tall body builder is going to weigh much more than a 6 foot tall couch potato, but which one is overweight? One size never fits all, in clothing or in weight charts.

Yes, proper exercise and getting down to the right weight is part of controlling Type II, but neither of them will cure it because it's a change in your body chemistry that causes it, not a lifestyle choice.

Re:Medical Industry (1)

melvin xavier xiv (1037148) | more than 7 years ago | (#17362788)

Okay, you don't really get it. Here's a brief recap of your main drive, and answers for you: Q: Why is the American medical system so absurdly expensive and inefficient? A: Because big businesses make insane profits off your illness. You pay out the ears, your employer's health insurance (assuming you have one) pays out the ears, and big businesses make mad moolah. If we had a more efficient, socialized healthcare system, would their pockets be lined with your money? I think not. But who has more political clout: a big business with loads of cash for policial lobbying, or a bunch of random, politically-unorganized sick people who can't afford the ridiculously overpriced medical care that will save their lives?

Re:Medical Industry (1)

Bios_Hakr (68586) | more than 7 years ago | (#17362824)

I've seen a lot of social health care systems. Canada, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Austria. All of them are broken in some fashion.

Profit means better service for the customer. Social HC means no chance of profit. That means the customer gets shitty service and the hospitals have no incentive to change.

Re:Medical Industry (1)

Thanatopsis (29786) | more than 7 years ago | (#17362852)

Actually medicine "for profit" tends to be equally poor. Any claim on your healthcare insurance diminishs the profitability of the said health care - so they naturally do everything to deny your claim, lengthen your claim rembursement and reject necessary procedures.

Re:Medical Industry (2, Insightful)

compro01 (777531) | more than 7 years ago | (#17362874)

Profit means better service for the customers who can afford it.

there. i fixed that for you.

Re:Medical Industry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17363028)

Profit means better service for the customer.

Yeah, because when I'm unconscious from a stroke, I demand the best service I can get!

Or at least I can hope that the ambulance company who shows up is contracted to deliver to a nearby hospital instead of hauling me 60 miles to the place that'll pay them $100 more for dropping me off.

Re:Medical Industry (1)

scum-e-bag (211846) | more than 7 years ago | (#17362808)

My moderator points ran out yesterday. Good post. :)

Re:Medical Industry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17362842)

Excellent points - but how to make it work in a dependable and predictable way? In the big picture we're just coming out of the tail end of the industrial age in the west and entering the information wild west. There's enough people now that we can adapt to economies of scale but no precedent to stimulate change. The rich people have to understand that poor people - the true majority of the world - can only be kept from eventually impinging their lifestyle if they are provided the basic minimums of life. All the money in the capitalist system should bubble to the top as it does now but from there the extra step should be taken to infuse it back into the base of the system. I'm talking social programs. Corporations everywhere pay huge taxes that subsidize the worlds poor. I'm not talking about an xbox in every bedroom however, rather every person on the planet will have at a minimum communal housing and basic living needs such as minimum food, healthcare, and education provided at the expense of the two percent of people who have aquired practically all the wealth. From there you institute a real system of advantages, you can work and it will increase your advantage level. If you work you get an apartment instead of the open room where 20 people sleep in on-camera beds arranged in a grid. Minimum standards that are upgraded with effort expended. And don't get me onto Education. Education should never stop in a perfekt world aptitudes should be tested for and encouraged to develop on individual cases throughout the grading system. At the same time exploration of other areas of interest should be encouraged as well. This should continue through your whole life creating points in your life when contrasted you could be doing completely different things. Information systems are what could bring this kind of promise into our reality. And the rich people don't get randomly killed by jealous poor people!</RANT>

Re:Medical Industry (1, Flamebait)

rjshields (719665) | more than 7 years ago | (#17362876)

2a. Why can an old guy take a drug to make his dick hard when I can't smoke a joint?
Marijuana does nothing to oppress, instead it opens peoples' minds to think in new ways. Free thinkers are dangerous, so they keep us ignorant about its medicinal qualities and spread lies that it is more harmful than it really is. Give them alcohol to rot their minds and bodies, pornography to desensitize and viagra keep their dicks hard.

People are also scared of things they don't understand. Unless you've had a toke yourself it's easy to believe the lies when you see some bum having a whitey.

Re:Medical Industry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17362928)

Oh bullshit. Pot just makes you sit around and act like your retarded ideas are brilliant insights.

I actually support the legalization of pot, since it'll keep the dumbasses busy in their parents' basement.

Re:Medical Industry (1)

rjshields (719665) | more than 7 years ago | (#17363126)

Oh bullshit. Pot just makes you sit around and act like your retarded ideas are brilliant insights.
I tend to agree, but it depends on who's smoking it and how much ;) Still, it's a whole load less harmful than alcohol and has legitimate medical uses.

Re:Medical Industry (2, Interesting)

twiddlingbits (707452) | more than 7 years ago | (#17362890)

#4 Good Luck, first we got to get rid of the Ambulance Chasing Lawyers. We have too many of them so to "make a living" then invent things to sue about. They file dumbass suits they get disbarred AND pay court costs AND a fine. That'll stop them, but alas too many lawyers are legislators (in BOTH parties) so this is really dreaming.

Combine 5 & 6: everyone is covered but everyone must get regular checkups. Hypochondriacs are mental cases and should be treated as such.

#5a; If you work in the USA you pay the same taxes regardless of being a citizen, H1-B, or green card holder. Yea, in some cases crooked firms who knowingly hire illegals as employees or contractors (Wal-Mart) don't withhold taxes. I would say no taxes paid no access to health care or the legal system.

#7 Thats a dumb idea. The cost of the military "quality of life" goes up every year just due to inflation. Big ticket projects and R&D should be funded but we need to make sure we get the return. We can't weaken defense to the point we are vulnerable if some idiot in Iran or North Korea wants to attack our way of life. In your case the JSF is a fighter for AF and Navy and Marines, the F-22 is AF only. In this case we DID save money by each service NOT getting to run it's own program.

#7a I'll support that one, if due to lower staff they don't get to make up and enforce stupid laws that add to the cost of items.

#8 is just silly. I own shares of a Drug company via my 401K Mutual Funds..so how does that make me a criminal? Profit maxmization within the ethical bounds of the community is what business SHOULD do. They make money, they pay taxes, and dividends to investors large and small. What I would support is less years of patent protection AND there should be a way for the Gov't to "buy out" a drug for the public good in times of a health care crisis.

#9 is starting down an interesting path. I'd say if a drug company spends $1 of Gov't money on researching a drug then that drug patent belongs to the Gov't and it's citizens. The Defense Department should do that too. I know the laws are on the books to do that for DoD work but they are rarely enforced.

Re:Medical Industry (1)

Bios_Hakr (68586) | more than 7 years ago | (#17362926)

>>#5a; If you work in the USA you pay the same taxes regardless of being a citizen, H1-B, or green card holder. Yea, in some cases crooked firms who knowingly hire illegals as employees or contractors (Wal-Mart) don't withhold taxes. I would say no taxes paid no access to health care or the legal system.

That was actually intended to address US companies firing US employees and outsourcing projects. If you hire and Indonesian in Indonesia to do a job that a USian could do in the US, you still have to pay US taxes on the foreign worker.

Re:Medical Industry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17362948)

"Government regulation could go a long way, but who really wants a bigger government?"

I do, if it means cheaper and more comprehensive health care.

Re:Medical Industry (1)

LunchSpecial (1030924) | more than 7 years ago | (#17362974)

Your observations are so widely shallow they only look like depth.

What you are basically proposing are TIGHTER government controls on EVERYTHING. I don't know how you do that while saying "Government regulation could go a long way, but who really wants a bigger government?" in the beginning of your post. But somehow that logic makes sense to you.

"7a. Reduce the funding to every government agency by 2% per year until the customers start complaining. Then, analyze the complaints to see if better customer service could fix the problem. Fire assholes and slashdoters. We pay for 8 hours, fucking work them."

This is my favorite of your comments. You try reducing the funding for the arts, and watch as they torch your house and call you a fascist.

Re:Medical Industry (1)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 7 years ago | (#17363140)

wrong, he's not talking about the arts, he's talking about routine funding for slow-moving buearocratic organizations like the DMV.... where inefficient middle managers "following the rules" waste time and money not getting work done... like read myspace while leaving the clients waiting.

Re:Medical Industry (1)

hero_or_what (245446) | more than 7 years ago | (#17362994)

>> 1. Stop advertising drugs on TV and in magazines. You are not a doctor. You shouldn't be "asking your doc" if zotramiphil is
>> right for your itchy ass.
That's funny because as a visitor to the US, its the first thing you notice. I don't recall the last time I saw an ad in way that is highly annoying anywhere else.

>> 5. Make US employers provide health insurance. Yes, all of them. Call it the cost of doing business in the USA.
Health care is expensive, simply because it *requires* the human touch. In places where the population is aging, the costs would only increase.

>> 5a. For every non-US employee a company contracts or subcontracts, make them pay money directly to the federal government's
>> unemployment fund. In other words, a non-US employee working for a US company still gets taxed at the same rate as a US
>> employee would.
That's fair only if US companies do not buy or sell *anything* from the rest of the world. Don't buy Cars, Clothes, Toothbrushes and electronics from other parts of the world and also don't sell airplanes, guns to the rest of the world. Its not going to happen that way.

Re:Medical Industry (1)

istartedi (132515) | more than 7 years ago | (#17363016)

1. Agreed. Precedent? You can't advertise cigarettes.

2. Disagreed. Impossible to determine or regulate what should or shouldn't be developed.

2a. Agreed--the war on drugs is being fought by people who failed to learn from Prohibition.

3a. Somewhat agreed. This system lends itself to abuse in terms of determining what is and isn't a "cost of production".

4. Partially agreed. Agreed that the lawsuits must end--the purpose of the system must be to weed out doctors who are truly incompetent and a danger to the public; not to line lawyer's pockets. Disagreed that it should be a panel of physicians. There's too much danger of the fraternity members not wanting to punish eachother. The proper people for determining whether or not a doctor has an unacceptable rate of errors are actuaries--insurance company specialists who are already making these kinds of decisions, based on statistics. You don't need to be a physician to understand error rates, standard deviation, etc.

4a. Partially agreed, but you can't just arbitrarily force lower prices. Hospitals must publish one price list for all comers--no preference for any provider (see point 5, this is an inportant component to make the system work).

5. Agreed, but it has to be INSURANCE in the true sense of the word. What we have now are heavily administered BUYER'S CLUBS. In order to qualify as insurance, the plan should have A. An annual deductable considerablly higher than it is now. B. No such thing as a "network"--if the doctor is board certified, he's in your network. C. Zero paperwork at the point of service--the doctor bills you, and if the bill exceeds your deductable then, and ONLY then, you submit a claim. These are the hallmarks of an efficient INSURANCE program, as opposed to the horrible, unfair, infefficient BUYER'S CLUBS we have now.

5a. Disagreed. Too easy to skirt, and really sounds like it would just expand beurocracy and/or increase US hegemony.

6. Neither agree nor disagree. In essence, you are saying "heal the sick". We are already trying to do that.

7. Disagreed. We should get out of Iraq though--that's what's really busted our burn rate sky high.
We never should have gone there.

7a. Neither agree nor disagree. Do you have any idea how many people have ridden into office saying they were going to cut government waste? It will rain donuts before this happens.

8. Disagree, unless you can come up with a reasonable definition for what constitutes a crime here.

9. Disagree. Forcing a bunch of companies with no expertise in a particular area to get involved with a specific type of research is a terrible waste of resources. What? Suddenly every drug company needs an HIV department? Either they'll be a sham, or this will drive the demand for HIV experts sky high, or simply drive firms out of the business. It's more efficient to use tax dollars to fund research carried out by companies that have voluntarily decided to specialize in this area. Even then, simply throwing money at this problem is not going to help. AIDS could be eliminated through many techniques that have nothing to do with drugs, which by improving the health and prolonging the lives of the infected, have actually lead to a rebound of infection rates in the West. I'm not saying we shouldn't treat people--it would be inhumane not to; but treatment that isn't coupled with prevention is ultimately more cruel than no treatment at all. Just ask anyone who got infected by a "healthy looking" partner who would have died years ago if there had been no treatment.

Re:Medical Industry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17363060)

The entire medical industry is broken. Probably to the point where it cannot be fixed. Government regulation could go a long way, but who really wants a bigger government?
The "entire medical industry" has basically expanded life expectancy by 100% over the last 100 years and keeps going. But even if this weren't the case, what sort of service has been better provided by increasing regulations and government involvement? Other than national defense, I can't think of an example that is unabiguously positive.

The fact of the matter is we don't have a health care problem as commonly portrayed. We have a cost issue due to two things primarily: 1) that the average person has little or no idea of what health care costs, so they demand excessive amounts and sue when they don't get it. This is caused by the way insurance is provided in the US, and "increasing access" (as the pols call it) will only exacerbate this situation; and 2) that the wealthier an economy gets, the more demand there is for health care and health care is an industry that really doesn't benefit much from mass production. We have a conjunction of Baumol's Cost Disease and a luxury good in economic terms, which means costs will go up and accelerate, and other than rationing there is no "solution" other than to make everyone poorer. That, fortunately, is considered a poor solution by just about everyone to the right of Mao and Stalin.

1. Stop advertising drugs on TV and in magazines. You are not a doctor. You shouldn't be "asking your doc" if zotramiphil is right for your itchy ass.
Under the theory that complete ignorance of options is bettern than slightly less than complete ignorance of options? If your ass itches, wouldn't you want to know there might be a solution?

2. Stop developing drugs for stupid shit. Yes, lots of people have Type2 diabetes. We already have a cure for that; a treadmill. Stop wasting money to develop a drug *just* to make money off a stupid disease.

2a. Why can an old guy take a drug to make his dick hard when I can't smoke a joint?
If there is a market for it, how is it a waste of money, exactly? And as for your 2a--it's a non-sequitor. Sure, illegal pot is a cure far more costly than the disease, but what does that have to do with companies doing drug research where there is clearly a demand for such reasearch?

3. If a company develops a truly amazing cure/drug, the government should step in and buy it for the cost of development. The drug should them be distributed for the cost of production inside the US and for twice the cost of production outside the US. Once the costs are recouped, it should be just the cost of production inside and outside the US.
This is silly--so the best a drug company could hope for is to break even (recoup the cost of development), but they have to assume all the risk for failed research? What drug company would stay in business with that bargain? Then what? Nationalize drug research? I'm sure politicizing priorities for research is the cure to your previous comment about pot and Viagra/Cialis--after all, it's not like old people have any political power at all....

4. Get rid of medical lawsuits. A judge and jury have no idea if what a doc did was right or wrong. Appoint a commission of well-respected docs and have all medical complaints go through that office. If the commission decides the doc was wrong, then the doc should be fired and the patient recouped in a fair way.
So how would you get the patient "recouped in a fair way" without a lawsuit? Have doctors decide how much other doctors should pay a patient that they just crippled, scarred for life or killed? Doctors protect themselves just like lawyers protect themselves and without the threat of punitive damages it is unlikely that your commission would ever decommission one of their own--a recent case in the State of Washington with an OB/GYN charged with multiple forms of malfeasence is a perfect example of this sort of "professional courtesy."

4a. Make hospitals stop charging so much. Why does it cost $200 for an x-ray and $10 for a tylenol? Because of lawsuits.
Um, no. The former costs that much because patients demand only the premium in health care, and thus they won't go to a hospital that doesn't have it's own x-ray. Thus, x-rays go under utilized, and the costs go up to pay for them. In the case of the latter, there is human cost involved in having a trained physician have to hand out something as prosaic as tylenol. The trick instead would be in routing people who only need a Tylenol to non-urgent care instead of an OR. Unfortunately, since people don't pay for their own health care and instead their companies pay for it in general, people have no incentive not to just wander into the OR. Which brings us to your next one...

5. Make US employers provide health insurance. Yes, all of them. Call it the cost of doing business in the USA.

5a. For every non-US employee a company contracts or subcontracts, make them pay money directly to the federal government's unemployment fund. In other words, a non-US employee working for a US company still gets taxed at the same rate as a US employee would.
Making even more employers pay for health insurance fits the leftward tilt of your tone, once again, but hiding the costs from consumers in a country as rich as the US will only result in a further spiraling of costs. This is bad news.

A better potential solution, using the same leftist theory that employers owe health care to their employees, would be to have employers contribute to health care funds (like workers can contribute to now) and let them get back that which they don't use after a given period of time, say 36 months. You can bet that employees would be a helluva lot more careful about making an ER doctor give them an aspirin for a $10 copay if they had to pay the other $147 it costs the hospital to provide this service but is currently hidden from them thanks to employer-provided health insurance.

6. Identify the hypochondriacs and truly sick people. Fix them. I go to the doc, on average, once a year for a checkup. Maybe once every 3 years for an illness. My kids get checkups and rarely go to the ER for being sick or hurt. If you or your family member is going to the hospital every week, something (lifestyle or mental) needs to be fixed.
But what do you do in the "boy that cries wolf" case, where the patient is really sick that time? Deny them care? Maybe let them die to prove a point and keep costs down? That's rationing of care, and while it seems a fine idea when it's not you who is sick, it seems much worse when you really think about it for more than a few seconds.

7. Pay for any improvements by taking money out of the DoD. Stipulate that the DoD has to maintain current manning levels and quality of life. All money taken from their budget should be from cruft (how much does DoD spend on office supplies) or from special projects (Do we really need the JSF right after the F-22).
Another non-sequitor. How about we take it out of the Department of Education instead? At least if we do, and we're wrong and have misallocated resources our national defense won't be at risk. Also, it is dangerous to assume that just because we have an F22 that the JSF isn't necessary. I don't know about you, but I wasn't privvy to the Congressional hearings where the generals made the case for our needs in national defense going forward, but with these sorts of decisions I like to leave them to the professionals and a true deliberative body. Be informed about the JSF and the F22, and if indeed they are redundant, write your Congressman. Just as I suggested that drug ads aren't all that bad because they inform patients of possible cures, I would suggest that you use your knowledge of the JSF's existence to ask your Senator or member of the House why s/he is for or against the program and try to persuade them.

7a. Reduce the funding to every government agency by 2% per year until the customers start complaining. Then, analyze the complaints to see if better customer service could fix the problem. Fire assholes and slashdoters. We pay for 8 hours, fucking work them.
I'm all for reducing government services, but I don't really think there are that many slackers out there in the bureaucracy that this sort of solution would amount to anything. I just don't see it being a panacea. The problem is not 2%, but that 100% of certain government programs are just flat out unjustified (DoEducation being first on the list--they don't educate anyone, but they spend like a sailor in Manila on payday).

8. Threaten corporate shareholders with jail for withholding good drugs at low cost.
So not only would you chase the drug companies out of the business, but you would ensure that no investors would step forward to replace them, even if they weren't heavily profit-motivated? Not too smart. Freezing investment in health care is not the way to better drugs and cures.

9. Mandate one special project for major companies. Wanna do business? Then you have to work on a cure for AIDS
So is your idea that all companies, regardless of specialty, need to spend resources on AIDS, or is AIDS just an example and you would rather create a new bureaucracy to oversee private businesses and determine what their "special project" should be or if they are actually pursuing it? Either way, this is nothing but wanking. Sorry. Companies exist for their shareholders and to make a positive return, and the fact they do this is why we have so many cool things, including the computers that we're using to type comments on slashdot. Try to plan what is going to be the next decade's worth of coolness, and you're bound to be hosed. This sort of idea would do the same kind of hosing.

Re:Medical Industry (1)

shadowmas (697397) | more than 7 years ago | (#17363080)

"Fire assholes and slashdoters. We pay for 8 hours, fucking work them."

Hmm, so then sir exactly what are you doing posting this rather than f****** work?

Recycled post (3, Insightful)

sam_handelman (519767) | more than 7 years ago | (#17362740)

Very nice, although I think the list of citations is a little short. Dean Baker [socsec.org] has been saying much the same thing for some time - but he doesn't have a nobel prize. Still I think he makes a more interesting case for much the same thing and Stiglitz ought to have cited him (among others, but I prefer Baker's writings based on clarity and style.)

  I write a new edition of this essay every time the topic comes up (and it has no citations at all, which should not be interpreted as a statement that these are entirely my ideas):

Let us say, just for the sake of argument, that a method of extracting or purifying a gene, or a gene product (a protein) consists of an invention, worthy of patent, in and of itself. This is distinct from patenting the gene itself - if I can do that, I am patenting an end, and not a means to achieving that end. If I come along and purify the same gene product, by some other technique, I'm violating their patent. Crucially, I will violate their patent even I use none of their actual inventions at all! I am violating their patent because I am seeking the same end.

At first glance, this might seem similar to product patents as applied to synthetic molecules. However, in those cases the molecule itself is a unique invention. If I develop a particular technique for tending an orchard, I cannot patent trees! Patenting genes that cause diseases is a separate intellectual fallacy that deserves coverage in it's own right.

This is like patenting the act of killing germs. If a disease is caused by an abnormal (mutant) protein, than the only true cure is to fix that protein - replace it with functional protein, or remove those cells generating the harmful protein, according to the particular condition. The same argument applies to gene-products (proteins) that cause elevated risk for cancer, heart disease and the like. A patent on the gene is basically a patent on all possible cures for that condition/predilection. A gene that causes a predilection for breast cancer should be viewed as a condition in and of itself (which needs to be at least treated,) and not as some part of a particular treatment for breast cancer.

Finally, I should say our genomes, not just collectively, but individually, are the property of the human race. In a biological sense, they are the human race.

Bees are generally black and yellow, and have poisonous stingers. Individual bees, however black or yellow they may be, and poisonous their stingers may be, are all 100% bees - they all possess an equal allotment of beeness. Likewise, the quality of humanity is 100% endowed to each of us.

However, it does not arise from any of us individually. We are all human only because the entire human species exists. The genome of any individual person is not sufficient to specify the human race; the genetic diversity of your fellow human beings is part and parcel of your fundamental human identity.

The same is true, in fact, of the genetic diversity of all known living things, which are our cousins.

Many people have a visceral objection to the idea of a gene being owned. Certain of my colleagues are fond of implying that the objections of laymen arise from some degree of scientific ignorance, or a lack of appreciation for the effort that goes into doing molecular biology. I am a molecular biologist myself, fully cognizant of the hard work that is done. I understand all of that quite well, but I come to the same visceral conclusion: you cannot own that which makes us human.

 

An alternative (3, Informative)

tgibbs (83782) | more than 7 years ago | (#17362742)

Complaints about the patent system in drug development typically founder on one sticking point. Without patents, who is going to come up with the immense sums required to bring a drug from investigational status to clinical reality? One alternative, of course, is a national drug discovery enterprise, funded by tax money. The problem with that, however, is that the funds required are immense, and the risks are high. Who is going to take the blame if the product of a billion-dollar drug discovery effort fails in Phase III trials, something that happens rather frequently to pharmaceutical companies? Not to mention the risks that such an effort would turn into another pork boondoggle, with money being expended in response to political rather than medical needs.

Stiglitz's proposal offers an intriguing compromise--a system of federally funded prizes for private development of "open source" pharmaceuticals. Moreover, it could potentially coexist with the current patent system, perhaps initially focusing on areas that are underserved by the pharmaceutical industry, such as development of new antibiotics. Of course, the prizes would have to be very large to attract private development, given that the open source requirement would greatly limit the profit potential of the drugs discovered. However, the prizes could reasonably be staged--so much for successfully passing Phase I, so much for successfully passing Phase II, etc. etc.

Re:An alternative (1)

Thanatopsis (29786) | more than 7 years ago | (#17362822)

Actually you have that backwards - open researchalways spurs innovation. Notice how most new pharma drugs aren't cures for anything but along the lines of Viagra? You really don't see the type of innovation in pharma that you do in the tech world.

"The problem with that, however, is that the funds required are immense, and the risks are high. Who is going to take the blame if the product of a billion-dollar drug discovery effort fails in Phase III trials, something that happens rather frequently to pharmaceutical companies?"

Well these blind ends are part of science and discovery. And typically no one "takes the blame" at a pharma when a drug fails in Phase 3 clinical trials. Thems the breaks. By federally funding basic science and drug innovation, you can then have multiple suppliers for the same drug based on the federal formulary. This in turn leads to lower priced drugs.

Some thoughts about patents (5, Interesting)

argoff (142580) | more than 7 years ago | (#17362784)

1. If a researcher looses a monopoly on one patent, but in turn gains access to 10 million other patents - then that is a net gain for invention and for business, not a net loss. The facts bear that out. For example, how most the new drug innovation was happening in India where they don't have patents on drugs, or the less proprietary x86 architecture that took the market by storm in spite of it's design flaws.

2. Patents do not change the demand for invention and R&D, they only distort the market and cause it to center around invention controls instead of invention related services. Well, large companies, lawyers, and government are good at controlling things. Inventors are good at inventing things, so patents do really not help inventors or small lean innovators.

3. To control inventions requires physical coercion and violence, and patents are very violent. Like how they arguably held back safety devices in cars for 20 years while millions died needlessly, and like how attempts of patent enforcement in Africa have likely led to over a million unneeded AIDS related deaths. Also, DDT was banned within months of its patent running out, freon too, to make room for bigger markets. But at least the freon one can't be attributed to 50 million malaria deaths.

4. In the future, technology is likely to bring production back into the home thru 3d printers and nanotechnology. IMHO, patents will require more violence and more government micro-regulation than ever in order to be secured.

5. A side effect of the patent system is that researchers who share research and innovation between companies are punished. It creates a strong disincentive against collaboration. It forces innovators to spend orders of magnitude more on R&D and causes them and their research to be micromanaged. So patents drive up the cost of R&D by orders of magnitude, drive down quality, and then now they say "well, we need patent monopolies to recover all these costs".

6. People tend to think that having all these incompatible parts and all these incompatible interfaces on every single car, cell phone, and consumer product - is just a normal part of a free market economy. I speculate that it is not, and that patents encourage these distortions in addition to all the waste and unneeded obsolescence that goes with it.

7. People tend to think that having expensive pharmaceuticals with all sorts of strange chemical side effects is just a normal part of a free market economy. In addition they think that the shunning natural cures, herbs, and vitamins is a normal function of modern medicine and science. I speculate that it also is not, but another distortion caused by patents.

8. Patents are not property anymore than slaves on the plantation are. Just cause someone calls something a property doesn't mean that it is.

In sum, patents don't help inventors, but distort markets to work against them and even punish and isolate them. They are violent, genocidal, coercive, unproductive, inefficient, and drive down profit, quality, and compatibility across markets everywhere. The future for patents does not look promising, but rather to be one of millions of US elderly suffering from high costs and strange chemichal side effects on their medication, and one of a military police state required to enforce them as things like 3d printing and nanotechnology force the commoditization of invention.

Re:Some thoughts about patents (0)

Mr. Flibble (12943) | more than 7 years ago | (#17362978)

1. If a researcher looses a monopoly on one patent, but in turn gains access to 10 million other patents - then that is a net gain for invention and for business, not a net loss. The facts bear that out. For example, how most the new drug innovation was happening in India where they don't have patents on drugs, or the less proprietary x86 architecture that took the market by storm in spite of it's design flaws.


Under the assumption that the patents that they gain are worthwhile. If you read many of the patents out there, many of them are worthless.

2. Patents do not change the demand for invention and R&D, they only distort the market and cause it to center around invention controls instead of invention related services. Well, large companies, lawyers, and government are good at controlling things. Inventors are good at inventing things, so patents do really not help inventors or small lean innovators.


Most inventors licence their inventions, and use patents to protect themselves. The usual fee for a licencing deal is 5% of the gross from the company to which they licence too. Patents were originally created to help inventors. That is no so much the case now, but that was their original intent.

3. To control inventions requires physical coercion and violence, and patents are very violent. Like how they arguably held back safety devices in cars for 20 years while millions died needlessly, and like how attempts of patent enforcement in Africa have likely led to over a million unneeded AIDS related deaths. Also, DDT was banned within months of its patent running out, freon too, to make room for bigger markets. But at least the freon one can't be attributed to 50 million malaria deaths.

4. In the future, technology is likely to bring production back into the home thru 3d printers and nanotechnology. IMHO, patents will require more violence and more government micro-regulation than ever in order to be secured.


I don't see where you are going here. Very few patent disputes break out into violence...

5. A side effect of the patent system is that researchers who share research and innovation between companies are punished. It creates a strong disincentive against collaboration. It forces innovators to spend orders of magnitude more on R&D and causes them and their research to be micromanaged. So patents drive up the cost of R&D by orders of magnitude, drive down quality, and then now they say "well, we need patent monopolies to recover all these costs".


I guess I am not following this point...

6. People tend to think that having all these incompatible parts and all these incompatible interfaces on every single car, cell phone, and consumer product - is just a normal part of a free market economy. I speculate that it is not, and that patents encourage these distortions in addition to all the waste and unneeded obsolescence that goes with it.


I don't think people think that. I think that they don't know, and don't actually care. A "Lasse Faire" market (which I prefer) would only use patents to protect the developers. They are now used in a different fashion from their inital intent.

7. People tend to think that having expensive pharmaceuticals with all sorts of strange chemical side effects is just a normal part of a free market economy. In addition they think that the shunning natural cures, herbs, and vitamins is a normal function of modern medicine and science. I speculate that it also is not, but another distortion caused by patents.


I don't know where this comes from, or how it is related to patents. Yes the medical industry makes a killing off of their drugs. However, the current move to "natural" cures is just the "fad du jour". It will eventurally wane. However, now there is huge money to be made in the alternative therapies, ergo, big business is moving in that direction. This is all totally unrelated to patents.

8. Patents are not property anymore than slaves on the plantation are. Just cause someone calls something a property doesn't mean that it is.


And the reverse is true. Just because you say that patents are not property it does not make them any less property. I agree that patents have been extended and exploited far outside their original intent, however, they are not as evil as you make them out to be.

In sum, patents don't help inventors, but distort markets to work against them and even punish and isolate them. They are violent, genocidal, coercive, unproductive, inefficient, and drive down profit, quality, and compatibility across markets everywhere. The future for patents does not look promising, but rather to be one of millions of US elderly suffering from high costs and strange chemichal side effects on their medication, and one of a military police state required to enforce them as things like 3d printing and nanotechnology force the commoditization of invention.


I disagree, but then this is because I am actually seeking some patents. I have invented a few things, and I require patents to maintain a return on my efforts. If I don't patent my ideas, and they are taken by a major corp, then I have done all the development, and I don't see a dime. That puts me out of pocket and effort. I want patents to protect the work that I put in on these things, and hopefully, provide me with a good return. Is that unwarrented of me to ask that?

Re:Some thoughts about patents (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 7 years ago | (#17363132)

Inventors are good at inventing things, so patents do really not help inventors or small lean innovators.

By all means, list a few examples... because your claim flies in the face of all logic.

at this rate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17362796)

if they keep abusing the 'patent' and 'copyright' powers.. we are so fucked. how can people be so freaking greedy to patent lets say a cure for blindness than sell it for money.. why? why is it all about me me me!!!, these fuckers are making money off peoples illness, it's sickning, is their anymore generius and caring people.. i guess nice guys finish last.. or should i say go the way the dinosaurs did.. we live in such a fucked up society..

Patents kill in a lot of sectors... (3, Insightful)

Eric Damron (553630) | more than 7 years ago | (#17362964)

"In medicine, patents cost lives."

Patents cost lives in more than just medicine. I remember hearing about an African country that turned down a shipment of grain because it had been genetically altered. The fact that it was genetically altered wasn't the problem. The problem was that there were patents on the alterations and the government knew that farmers would use some of the grain to raise new crops. That country chose to let their people starve rather than face the consequences of patent infringement.

Corporations don't give a shit about people. They could care less if you as an individual lived or died. You and I are nothing but prospective customers, a possible source of profit and it is only to that end they care.

Limit on royalties (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 7 years ago | (#17363018)

I think some kind of limit on royalties should be explored. We can give inventors some rewards without grinding everything to a hault. Some kind of compromize is needed.

The Gates Foundation... (2, Interesting)

kiwioddBall (646813) | more than 7 years ago | (#17363042)

... may well consider spending some of its billions buying out critical patents?

The ROI for R&D ain't what it used to be... (2, Insightful)

jayemcee (605967) | more than 7 years ago | (#17363148)

FTA:|The chief executive of Novartis, a drug company with a history of social responsibility, said "We have no model which would [meet] the need for new drugs in a sustainable way ... You can't expect for-profit organizations to do this on a large scale."| I haven't looked at the cost to bring a drug to market (from discovery to preclinical work through to NDA filing) recently, but last I saw it was in the region of $800 million US. Most big pharmas are tweaking the winning compounds they already have rather than pushing riskier candidates through the later stages towards approval. If you can play with the other enantiomer of your already approved product rather than mess with a new molecule, you do that first, assuming you own the rights :) Most of the big pharmas do R&D and spend enormous sums, but the biotechs and biopharmas still do the work on the less favored sons, hoping for a wedding or at least an invite, but as the man from Novartis indicates, it's a business fraught with peril, not many compounds make it through the regulatory authorities like the FDA, EMEA, etc. Pfizer and Lilly and the others do their due diligence and throw seed money at the little guys along with venture capitalists, but sustainability is a big ask when the percentage of compounds receiving approval is as low as it is.
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