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Nobel Laureate Attacks Medical Intellectual Property

ThinWhiteDuke Re:and you? (449 comments)

Humanity has been inventing things long before patents, corporations or indeed the very concept of profit was around.

I respectfully disagree. I think the very concept of profit is as old as trade and possibly as old as property. Cavemen were jealously protecting the secret of fire against other tribes, as it gave them a competitive advantage.

The rate of human discoveries has skyrocketed in recent times, while patents were increasingly used. Of course, correlation does not mean causation. Yet the case against patents is far from proven.

I'm sorry if I sounded insensitive or exceedingly siding with big pharmas. I agree with most people that overly broad patents should not be granted. Patents on a gene for instance, or patents on a given organism (your Amazonian flower) with no indication of any specific application. But the /. discussion quickly turned into a general patent-bashing and big-pharma-bashing fest which culminated in my original parent saying that not giving drugs for free amounts to murder.

Bringing a new drug to the market takes 10 years and $1Bn. Who's gonna take that kind of risk if they're not allowed to profit in case of success? Big pharma are evil if/when they stifle innovation. Not when they do their job : develop and SELL drugs.

Why should everyone be allowed to make a profit : carmakers, airlines, software vendors, restaurants, pet grooming shops, stock brokers, insurance salesmen, TV evangelists... EXCEPT those who invent life-saving drugs?

If you crave for a world where everyone can access the same drugs, regardless of their wealth, you can :
1. lobby your government and fellow citizens so that a decent health care system is instituted;
2. start a charity that focuses on providing drugs to the poor (or just give to such a charity);
3. become a biochemist and start your own drug discovery company.

I guess my position on this stuff can be summarized in 2 quick points:
1. I don't think execs at big pharmas are more or less evil than in other industries.
2. Careful what you do with the patent system, it's worked not so bad so far.

more than 8 years ago


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