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How do these people sleep at night?

An article on Alertnet by Ruth Gidley talks about the case currently before the High Court in Chennai, India, about whether to grant Novartis patent protection against a generic Aids drug, Glivec.

Glivec costs some $70 per year for a course of treatment, the patented alternative costs thousands. Glivec is saving millions of lives. Furthermore, by throttling back the Aids virus, it also decreases transmission, so it’s saving millions more people.

Novartis says intellectual “property” needs protection if innovation is not to be stifled.

Let’s have a reality check. A huge proportion of basic research, the kind that makes new discoveries about cures, is funded by the government. Taxpayers have already paid for that. Big Pharma just has the expense of filing for the patent.

Big Pharma does mainly applied research, which involves things like figuring out the best shape of pill, or going through the long and expensive clinical trials after a drug is discovered.

Their other big cost is marketing. They’re also publicly traded companies who have to satisfy their investors, who want as high a return as possible. If Novartis executives said they needed a monopoly so they could charge whatever the market will bear, which would look good on the balance sheet, which would secure their (the executives’) bonuses … well, then, I’d at least give them a point or two for honesty.

To go through this folderol when the product is a new battery technology for laptop computers is one thing. Not good even then, but not flabbergastingly evil.

In the fight against generics, though, these drug company executives are saying that a fair price for their business model is deaths all over the world. It’s the slow, fatal rotting of whole villages. It’s orphans selling themselves in the street.

How do these people sleep at night?

Technorati tags: AIDS, drugs, HIV, Novartis, generic drugs, patents, intelllectual property