Saturday, October 3, 2015

A Shortfall In US Public Funding Is Not Co-Terminous With "Pharma" Prevention Of Life Saving Drugs. Period.

I don't want to overly belabor the point, but this very well-educated Upshot editorial commenter waits until paragraph 14 of his 16 paragraph essay to acknowledge that perhaps -- just perhaps -- not-for-profit, public-funded, or academic basic science programs should bring unpatentable (i.e., unprofitable) medicines and drug candidates to market -- with yes, public assistance.

[Shareholders of for profit companies, on the other hand, expect. . . (gasp!). . . profits. And pharma profits flow from. . . patents. This is a point not mentioned by the commenter.]

While pharma could always donate more to such efforts, and pharma is very profitable, it is largely nonsensical to suggest that the companies "prevent" unpatentable tech from reaching market. And it is near-lunacy (in my estimation) to suggest that for profit companies be given patent like monopoly periods on such basic, obvious drug candidates, solely to hasten them to market. [Witness Mr. Shkreli's various exploits, here.] So, the entire essay needs rethinking in my view -- but here is the bit where he starts his slide. . . sideways:

. . . .By granting temporary monopolies to innovators, the patent system is widely credited with protecting and promoting innovation. But when it comes to pharmaceuticals, it may be preventing valuable therapies from coming to market. . . .

Now you know: granting pharma ever more profit opportunities by monopolies at law (even shortish ones), isn't the right answer to a shortfall in basic public investment in public science -- even obvious science. [There are, of course, other cases -- where pharma arguably delays or prevents life saving medicines from reaching market -- but these are not those cases.] Onward, on a gray Saturday here. . . but smiling just the same. In short, Prof. Outterson is right.

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