Showing posts sorted by relevance for query against patents. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query against patents. Sort by date Show all posts

April 23, 2013

Against patents

The case against patents

Some months ago, a WP blog hightlighted a paper by Boldrin and Levine with a straightforward title. Now you can read it at the Journal of Economic Perspectives. The summary is in the first paragraph:
The case against patents can be summarized briefly: there is no empirical evidence that they serve to increase innovation and productivity, unless productivity is identified with the number of patents awarded—which, as evidence shows, has no correlation with measured productivity. This disconnect is at the root of what is called the “patent puzzle”: in spite of the enormous increase in the number of patents and in the strength of their legal protection, the US economy has seen neither a dramatic acceleration in the rate of technological progress nor a major increase in the levels of research and development expenditure.
A risky statement unless there is a clear support from research. However, once you continue reading you'll have arguments to be convinced about it. The impact on pharmaceutical industry is analysed in detail:
There are four things that should be born in mind in thinking about the role of patents in the pharmaceutical industry. First, patents are just one piece of a set of complicated regulations that include requirements for clinical testing and disclosure, along with grants of market exclusivity that function alongside patents. Second, it is widely believed that in the absence of legal protections, generics would hit the market side by side with the originals. This  assumption is presumably based on the observation that when patents expire, generics enter immediately. However, this overlooks the fact that the generic manufacturers have had more  than a decade to reverse-engineer the product, study the market, and set up production lines. Lanjouw’s (1998) study of India prior to the recent introduction of pharmaceutical patents there indicates that it takes closer to four years to bring a product to market after the original is introduced—in other words, the fifi rst-mover advantage in  pharmaceuticals is larger than is ordinarily imagined. Third, much development of pharmaceutical products is done outside the private sector; in Boldrin and Levine (2008b), we provide some details. Finally, the current system is not working well: as Grootendorst, Hollis, Levine, Pogge, and Edwards (2011) point out, the most notable current feature of pharmaceutical innovation is the huge “drought” in the development of new products.
And the proposal is a controversial one:
we could either treat Stage II and III clinical trials as public goods (where the task would be financed by National Institutes of Health, who would accept bids from firms to carry out this work) or by allowing the commercialization of new drugs—at regulated prices equal to the economic costs of drugs—if they satisfy the Food and Drug Administration requirements for safety even if they do not yet satisfy the current (overly demanding) requisites for proving efficacy.
The last sentence sounds far from what should be a "fair" regulatory process in pharmaceuticals. Anyway, it seems that we have entered in a new perspective on patents and more scholars will be supporting it in the future.  I'm close to this perspective, but the details are important, as usual.

March 12, 2014

Against patents, again

Deadly Monopolies: The Shocking Corporate Takeover Of Life Itself – And The Consequences For Your Health And Our Medical Future

I've just finished reading a book on patents in life sciences. As you know from previous posts , I'm convinced that there is an enormous welfare loss from current patent system. If you have the opportunity to read this book, you'll finally will arrive at the same conclusion. Although it was written before the Supreme Court ruling over the Myriad case, the message is still the same: patents contrain innovation and are extremely costly to the society. The case of Hepatitis C is explained in detail. Until some patents were exhausted there was no possibility to start research. Without such patents, new succesful and (costly) treatments have arisen (and afterwards have been patented again).
An interesting interview in Forbes magazine highlights the key issues of the book. Unfortunately times go by and alternatives to patents are not taking off.

February 23, 2017

Genome editing, closer than you think

Human Genome Editing Science, Ethics, and Governance

Last week the US patent office ruled that hotly disputed patents on the CRISPR revolutionary genome-editing technology belong to the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT. In a former post I explained the dispute. Genome editing in my opinion shouldn't be patented and will see exactly the impact of such ruling in US and elsewhere in the next future.
If you want to know in detail what does genome editing means for the future of life sciences, have a look at NASEM book.
It is now possible to insert or delete single nucleotides,interrupt a gene or genetic element, make a single-stranded break in DNA, modify a nucleotide, or make epigenetic changes to gene expression. In the realm of biomedicine, genome editing could be used for three broad purposes: for basic research, for somatic interventions, and for germline interventions.
CRISPR (which stands for clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) refers to short, repeated segments of DNA originally discovered in bacteria. These segments provided the foundation for the development of a system that combines short RNA sequences paired with Cas9 (CRISPR associated protein 9, an RNA-directed nuclease), or with similar nucleases, and can readily be programmed to edit specific segments of DNA. The CRISPR/Cas9 genome-editing system offers several advantages over previous strategies for making changes to the genome and has been at the center of much discussion concerning how genome editing could be applied to promote human health.
I would just want to say that these patents destroy the soul of science, since access should be available with no barriers for the development of  innovation. Patents are not the incentive for discovery in this case, as I explained in my post, natural processes should'nt be patented. And this is why today is a really sad day.

PS. My posts against patents

Michael Kiwanuka. Home again

July 29, 2022

Against patents, again (3)

 Patent Politics. Life Forms, Markets, and the Public Interest in the United States and Europe

Comparing battles over patents on animals, human embryonic stem cells, human genes, and plants in the United States and Europe, she shows how political culture, ideology, and history shape patent system politics. Clashes over whose voices and which values matter in the patent system, as well as what counts as knowledge and whose expertise is important, look quite different in these two places. And through these debates, the United States and Europe are developing very different approaches to patent and innovation governance. Not just the first comprehensive look at the controversies swirling around biotechnology patents, Patent Politics is also the first in-depth analysis of the political underpinnings and implications of modern patent systems, and provides a timely analysis of how we can reform these systems around the world to maximize the public interest.

May 2, 2020

Against patents for the current pandemic

Imagine a world in which a global network of medical professionals monitored for emerging strains of a contagious virus, periodically updated an established formula for vaccinating against it, and then made that information available to companies and countries around the world. Moreover, imagine if this work were done without any intellectual-property (IP) considerations, and without pharmaceutical monopolies exploiting a desperate public to maximize their profits.
This may sound like a utopian fantasy, but it is actually a description of how the flu vaccine has been produced for the past 50 years. Through the World Health Organization’s Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System, experts from around the world convene twice a year to analyze and discuss the latest data on emerging flu strains, and to decide which strains should be included in each year’s vaccine.
This is exactly what Nobel prize David Stiglitz says in his op-ed in Project Syndicate. Absolutely agree.

For too long, we have bought into the myth that today’s IP regime is necessary. The proven success of GISRS and other applications of “open science” shows that it is not. With the COVID-19 death toll rising, we should question the wisdom and morality of a system that silently condemns millions of human beings to suffering and death every year.
It’s time for a new approach. Academics and policymakers have already come forward with many promising proposals for generating socially useful – rather than merely profitable – pharmaceutical innovation. There has never been a better time to start putting these ideas into practice.


July 28, 2022

Against patents (2)

 Medical Monopoly. Intellectual Property Rights and the Origins of the Modern Pharmaceutical Industry

Medical Monopoly combines legal, medical, and business history to offer a sweeping new interpretation of the origins of the complex and often troubling relationship between the pharmaceutical industry and medical practice today. Joseph M. Gabriel provides the first detailed history of patent and trademark law as it relates to the nineteenth-century pharmaceutical industry as well as a unique interpretation of medical ethics, therapeutic reform, and the efforts to regulate the market in pharmaceuticals before World War I. His book will be of interest not only to historians of medicine and science and intellectual property scholars but also to anyone following contemporary debates about the pharmaceutical industry, the patenting of scientific discoveries, and the role of advertising in the marketplace.


February 24, 2016

Genome editing: a potential weapon of mass destruction

The Patent Dispute Over Gene Editing Technologies: The Broad Institute, Inc. vs. The Regents of the University of California

Nobody could imagine two decades ago that a small part of wide range of bacteria's immune system could represent so much for genome editing. Known as CRISPR, clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats, such mechanism can recognise and defend against viruses. The other part of the defense mechanism is a set of enzymes called Cas that can cut DNA and avoid the invasion of viruses. Mostly, these research was originated in Les Salines d'Alacant by Francisco Mojica a microbiologist.
As far as this is a natural process Dr. Mojica didn't show interest in patenting it. Now the row over patents is hot between UC Berkeley and the Broad Institute. I will skip details, you may find it in The Economist.
It seems that the fight is only to determine who was the first, and the Court will have to decide on March 9th. However, my question is: why is it still possible to file a patent over human nature?.
Meanwhile the public debate may be moved towards the use of such CRISPR technology for genome editing, and Science was publishing an article about the threat that misuse represents for human beings. Are we facing a new weapon of mass destruction?
Both issues, patents and bioethical implications are crucial at the moment. Former examples provide clear guidance of outcomes that should be avoided. Unfortunately, the race for the biggest size of the pie (billions of $) seems to be a priority over health and humanity.

April 3, 2013


I'm strongly convinced that strong patent rights spur innovation. In the case of genetics and biomarkers, the impact is even stronger. The Supreme Court has to decide over the Myriad case next April 15th and it is really crucial to follow what will be the definite resolution about genetic patents (at least in US). You'll find a good summary at FT.
The verdict is relevant for society as a whole. The access to new biotech benefits will be cheaper if resolution is finally against patenting. Of course, biotech industry has great concerns about it. But the problem is not on biotech, is on expectations that Wall Street has created. It is again, Wall Street vs. Society, a well known fight. Don't forget, the issue is not about patents. It is about ownership rights that spureously create and distort the economy.

PS. You'll find more previous posts on the same topic, here, there and everywhere.

PS. Uwe Reinhardt on healthcare prices, must read, as usual.