[Ip-health] The Novartis case

Riaz K Tayob riaz.tayob at gmail.com
Mon Apr 1 12:05:14 PDT 2013

All patents are not equal, I suppose... taking a sectoral look, patents 
certainly benefit producers, but also act as hindrances as we see from 
the harvest in the US from years of low quality patents in the court 
rooms by ICT companies...

A market without ethics, as seems to be advocated here (apart from 
abstract property rights that must be protected come what may), would 
look like, well Wall Str with foreclosed homes everywhere... perhaps the 
mantra 'the market is always right' needs to be considered from a 
different point of view...

responses below...

On 2013/04/01 04:59 PM, Peter Pitts wrote:
> Where there there is no patent protection there is no investment.  And where there is no investment there is no innovation.

There is a kernel of truth about rewards for innovation, which the 
Venetians saw early on - but it is a political construction, their 14 
years became our 20 years, as the system is plastic.

And as the US amply shows, innovation can be publicly funded. Hello 
Google, NIH, etc...

> Minus patent protection, an innovator company can't earn back what it invested in R&D, ergo they can't reinvest their profits in further R&D -- further delaying crucial incremental innovation which is how medical progress is made.

The investment/protection trade off is something the Europeans made 
popular. Historically the trade off is monopoly for exchange of 
information, some WIPO staff even fall for this ahistorical argument. 
Protecting investment taken to its logical extreme would mean that every 
investment ought to be recouped, which just ain't how the system works.

Incremental innovation is important, but is it novel? And here views can 

The problem for the health IPR rentiers is that the monopolies are 
coming to an end, and they are found wanting on innovation.

> The Indian decision is a horrible blow to global public health -- and particularly to the Third World, because economically-driven, short-term decisions have deadly unintended consequences.

Unintended consequences. This sounds like a classical admonishment not 
to do anything because one faces futility, perversity, jeopardy as well. 
But companies know that there is flexibility in enforcement, just ask 
Bayer on Anthrax in the US, and should manage this risk. They should 
charge higher prices in the rich countries??? And so the EC is going 
full on for an FTA with India, as part of this process. Contrary, I 
think, to an EU Parliament decision. Activists and business in India 
have managed their risks, and here seem to be acting for the public good.

Surely you can't be advocating that people should die for want of money? 
And if the flexibility was not available to India will the companies do 
what they did to the African's by allowing People Living with HIV to die 
so some companies can make a buck? If this is the case, you will be in 
good company. Margeret Chan of WHO and Pascal Lamy came out and said 
people should eat pork during the swine flu pandemic, but nary a word on 
dying Africans.

In finance, Keynes talked about the euthanasia of the rentier class. 
India's court ruling is perhaps in that spirit for the IPR rentiers. 
Well done to them.

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