Intellectual Property

A family member has a dreaded disease. The clock is winding down. Pain. Agony. Prayers. At the bedside. And then [name your drug company] comes up with a cure. A medicine that not only treats but remediates the illness of your family member. They take the medicine. And slowly – with tears of joy – they begin to improve. And they heal.

Let’s say that the miracle medicine costs all of $10.00 to produce. And yet the cost to you – or your insurance company – is $200.00. Fair? Let’s say the drug company invested $257,000,000 on research for this drug. And they have a series of patents on all aspects of the drug. And by charging $200.00 per dosage, they are recouping their investment – and making a modest profit. Fair? In 2019, pharmaceutical companies spent 186 billion dollars on research.

Today – some political groups seek to nullify patents. Regulate profits. Commandeer rights in a company’s investment in research, development – and healing. A few countries already do this.

To me, one of the most important words in the English language is – “incentive” (please see post of May 6, 2018). We have incentive to obey traffic lights. To work. Take the dog out. To go to our doctors. To attend a church or synagogue. Recycle. To contribute to charity. To be kind to others. And to develop healing remedies that will help humanity.

As an intellectual property lawyer (now retired), I have respect for the intellectual property of individuals and businesses. And for investments made by corporate America – to come up with knowledge, ideas, technology and medicines to cure disease. I understand that businesses need to be fair in recouping their investments. Most are. But the inclination to deny reimbursement for expenditures, deny profits for shareholders or nullify patents – is shortsighted.

When your family member has a dreaded disease. The clock is winding down. Pain. Agony. Prayers. At the bedside. And [the drug company of your choice] decides it is no longer worth it to invest in research – just remember. That when you stifle incentive, lots of things disappear . . . . .