handdator

Visa fullständig version : A mistake in the platform on drug patents


2006-08-22, 10:42
The arguments in the Pirate Party's platform on pharmaceutical patents are interesting and strong. But they are weakened by at least one big mistake: accepting drug companies' own estimates on the costs of drug development. Drug companies generate these (more or less fictional) figures in a secretive fashion as a way of defending the most restrictive possible patent system. Many, perhaps most, of the costs included as "research and development" costs are actually marketing costs. The figures are based on a carefully hand-picked selection of particularly expensive drugs. And often the proportion of research on a drug that is already directly paid for with government money is not mentioned. (It seems this amount is particularly high for truly useful drugs: see point 3 at http://www.cptech.org/ip/health/econ/howmuch.html.) The book The Truth About the Drug Companies, by Marcia Angell, former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, has a detailed discussion of the way these deceptive figures are created.



The part in the platform about drugs costing a billion dollars to develop should be replaced with something that takes all this into account! Otherwise, great work.

Richie
2006-09-04, 08:15
Anonymous (2006-Aug-22)The part in the platform about drugs costing a billion dollars to develop should be replaced with something that takes all this into account! Otherwise, great work.

The really interesting part is that even using the drug companies' own numbers, we can still make the case that patents are not needed. By their own figures, around 15% of their expenditures goes to R&D. This includes countless trials and errors when attempting to discover new ways of synthetsizing "target" compunds (since the existing methods are under patent) and the clinical trials mandated by the FDA for every new drug on the market, even copycat generics. Those two steps account for a large majority of all drug research expenses and would both easily be lowered by up to 90% if we abolished the patent system and reformed the rules for generic drug manufacture.



Removing patents would actually lower the costs for big pharma in such a way that it would most likely offset the possible loss of revenue. On the other hand, patents have not primarily been about gaining monopoly profits or even protecting IP for many years, it's about power - controlling the market and creating cartels.



I'd like to point you to the book Information Feudalism by professors Peter Drahos and John Braithwaite where they go through the mechanisms and machinations behind the passing of the TRIPs treaty. It's not fun reading, but IMHO essential for understanding the role of patents in the modern world.