Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Lifting the Patent Barrier to New Drugs and Energy Sources; New York Times, 4/12/16

Eduardo Porter, New York Times; Lifting the Patent Barrier to New Drugs and Energy Sources:
"Malaria has preyed on humans for centuries. Hundreds of thousands of children die each year from the disease. Considering the market’s size, why haven’t pharmaceutical companies rushed to develop a vaccine against the deadly parasite that causes it?
The answer is easy: There is no money to be made from a vaccine for poor children who could not possibly pay for inoculation.
Last year, GlaxoSmithKline finally introduced the world’s first malaria vaccine for large pilot tests among African children. The move, however, is not an endorsement of the profit motive as a spur for innovation. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation picked up much of the tab. And Glaxo does not expect to make money on its investment.
The lack of interest of the pharmaceutical industry, which generates huge profits protected by a web of patents enforced around the world, raises an important question.
Do we need a different way to spur innovation and disseminate new technologies quickly around the world? Are patents, which reward inventors by providing them with a government-guaranteed monopoly over their inventions for many years, the best way to encourage new inventions?"

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