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Saturday, December 23rd 2006

Patents Lower Creativity


Greedy Bastards Think They Own Their Own Ideas!

Drug patent laws stiffle the creation of new drugs

A report by the General Accounting Office concludes that current patent law discourages drug companies from developing new drugs by allowing them to make excessive profits through minor changes to existing pharmaceuticals. While pharmaceutical research and development expenses have increased by 147% since 1993, applications for approval of “new molecular entity” (NME) drugs, or drugs which differ significantly from others already on the market, have risen only 7%. According to the report, the majority of newly developed medicines are so-called “me-too” drugs, which are substantially similar to existing drugs, are less risky than NMEs drugs to develop, and which “offer little in the way of therapeutic breakthroughs.”

Well, this is the market at play. If patients/consumers are to take on faith that Nexium is more efficacious than Prilosec for the price and doctors don’t have the spine (or time) to convince them otherwise, then is that REALLY the drug companies’ fault?

What in the world led the populace to expect self-castrating standards out of what is not a public service but a for profit business. If they truly want to limit “me to” drugs they should say so with their checkbooks, not by limiting the (patent) rights (and we should view ownership of your creation as a right) of the companies and their stockholders (to put a face to the rights).

This report is a little misleading, at least from the summary. Some of the “slight” change drugs brought to market are ONLY brought to market because the patent on their parent drug was about to expire. If patent’s weren’t so restrictive to begin with we’d have less of these drugs. So maybe the patent change needed isn’t to limit the “patentability” of these “me too” drugs but to extend the patent life of the parent drug.

Finally, even if we take the GAO’s conclusions at face value, it remains my contention that either you own your own ideas and creations or you don’t. I’m not some nimbwit who has never heard or doesn’t understand the IP arguments of a new generation but the most effective ones simply don’t apply here (and yes that photo above is someone’s copyright).

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