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Brazil Breaks Patent to Make AIDS Drug 1041

Posted by michael
from the life-before-dollars dept.
Andy Tai writes: "In this CNN story, Brazil decides to break a patent over an AIDS drug for public benefits. Brazil will produce the drug domestically without agreements with patent holder, the Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche. Brazil's efforts to fight AIDS have been praised internationally, and it successfully prevented the US Government from bringing complaints in the WTO on behalf of the drugs industry. This may set an important example that public needs justify the disregard of patent protection." There's another article in the Boston Globe about the decision.
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Brazil Breaks Patent to Make AIDS Drug

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  • by pompomtom (90200)
    There's a time and a place for all this profit-minded patent shite.

    AIDS ain't it!
    • I'll say amen to that.

      It's funny how having world-threatening plagues will put your priorities in order, innit?

      I hope everyone looks at this and makes the connection:

      Patents == People Dying of AIDS
    • Absolutely - we're talking about people's lives here.

      These pharmaceutical companies are turning over _billions_ every year, making bucketloads of cash out of other people's misery.

      Now, I don't deny them their profits; sure, the only way to keep making scientific (medical) advances is though continuous investment...

      I guess that's what happends when businessmen (and women) run businesses rather than the scientists and the engineers.

      It's all a trade-off; if Roche (and its contemporaries) were run by scientists for the benefit of ordinary folks, then they'd be in administration (Chapter 11 for you US folks) within weeks :-(

      matthew
      • by Bobo the Space Chimp (304349) on Thursday August 23, 2001 @10:48AM (#2208057) Homepage
        > These pharmaceutical companies are turning over
        > _billions_ every year, making bucketloads of cash
        > out of other people's misery.

        Making bucketloads of cash ENDING other people's misery, which is more than you, or Hillary, or others are doing.

        Funny how greedily searching for solutions to others' miseries, miseries that those suffering pray for a solution to, solves those problems all the while people stand on rocks pontificating how evil that process is. Yet when you look in their socialist bag, you don't see too much at all.

    • There's a time and a place for all this profit-minded patent shite. AIDS ain't it!

      In my time in science, I've learned that whenever people tell you how important it is what you're doing, it invariably means your life is about to be made worse. No one ever seems to say, "This is important! You deserve more money (benefits, whatever..)."

      There's an odd sort of market theory here where it's perfectly acceptable to earn hundreds of millions of dollars because you can hit a curveball or you IPO your worthless Internet startup just the right week, but if you can save lives -- well, that's just too darned important for you to be allowed to make money from it.

      As it happens, I think the pharmaceutical companies involved here are being ethically callous and idiotically short-sighted from a PR point of view. But I can't help noticing that the people who are so eager to take from them because, gosh, it's just so imeportant! don't ever seem to consider dropping some of their own money to make sure that drugs are readily available.

      Honestly, if you had told Act-Up! protestors in the early '90s that in 2001 the biggest villain in the AIDS world would be the companies that cure it, they wouldn't have believed it. Hey, make A-Rod play for free and use his money to fight AIDS.

  • How could it be in this day and age that lives are more important than money and intellectual property? I must have not woken up yet, and must still be in a dream world.
  • Example? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sllort (442574) on Thursday August 23, 2001 @09:32AM (#2207552) Homepage Journal
    "This may set an important example that public needs justify the disregard of patent protection"

    It sets a few more examples, too. If you're an AIDS patient, it sets the example that you should fly to Brazil, right away. If you're a drug company, the example is to look into carpet bombing Brazil, and if that fails, stop developing drugs no one will ever pay you for.

    Just because software patents are patents on math & therefore stupid doesn't mean all patents are stupid. Pharaceutical R&D is intensely expensive. Screwing the companies that fund research is a bad solution to what is at heart a political problem.

    • Re:Example? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by CSC (31551)
      Screwing the companies that fund research is a bad solution to what is at heart a political problem.

      A political problem?

      No. The political problem appears when Brazil decides that life is more important than the stock quotes in some other country far north.

      Brazil thus transformed an ethical problem into a political problem. My opinion is, it's a net gain.

      • I see a net loss. When companies "up north" can no longer recoup their R&D they will being able to develop the drugs needed to combat diseases. Then a new disease and mutation will come out, and there will be no feasible way to fight it.

        This may work if only one country does it. But then why is Brazil allowed to do it while others aren't? All and all this is a bad situation.
    • Yes, drug R&D is intensly expensive, but a significant amount of that research cost in many cases is publicly funded. In those cases, I really dont think the drug companies should have the right to patent it. I'm all for private companies making a profit when its their money at risk, but corporate welfare has to stop sometime.
      • Re:Example? (Score:2, Informative)

        by zothorn (513480)
        Case in point. The company that I work for is having to upgrade a lot of systems to meet the new 21 CFR Part 11 FDA requirements. Some of the systems like single pieces of lab equipment cost $300,000 USD! Plus things like $20,000 yearly for support, updates, and repairs. Multiply this times hundreds of labs times 30 countries. And you can see billions being spent yearly just to make sure the equipment is up to date.
    • Re:Example? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kalifa (143176)
      > Just because software patents are patents on
      > math & therefore stupid doesn't mean all patents
      > are stupid. Pharaceutical R&D is intensely
      > expensive. Screwing the companies that fund
      > research is a bad solution to what is at heart a
      > political problem.

      There is some truth in this, however these companies would have more credibility if they did not spend much more on advertising, public relations, lobbying, sponsoring sports events, etc., than on research.

      There is currently a bill which is about to be passed in the EU which would allow advertising on prescribed drugs, as it is already the case in the US. I hate this idea. It encourages overconsumption of drugs, it diverts billions and billions of dollars (or are they euros?) from more useful tasks, and it encourages pharmaceutical companies to focus on comfort-oriented drugs, made for wealthy retired in Florida or in the south of France, rather than on life-saving drugs.

      Today, drug companies fight against each other with marketing, lobbying and politics: millions and millions are poured into "lobbying" (read: corrupting, but legally, the typical American way) drugs-regulation authorities, to make sure that competing drugs are not approved, or that the approval is delayed, to make sure that their exclusivity on a product is extended, etc...

      Inventive, good-for-humanity research is secondary. These companies will be allowed to complain on what is going on in Brazil when they have changed their ways.

    • The pharmaceutical companies are hardly screwed. There was no guarantee that after they made the drug they'd get rich from epidemics in Brazil and Africa. Profits are not a *right* (something MPAA and RIAA are also having a hard time getting their heads around...they continually are going to Washington whining, "hey, it's not *fair*...we *expected* to make lots of money and now we're not, boohoo"). Anyway, patents are useful insofar as they benefit the society (and extended to international patents, the whole global society) as a whole. If some pharmaceutical makes less money because the global community decides that millions of lives are more important, guess what? - Tough shit for them. The benefit to society of saving millions of lives in this case far outweighs the benefit to a very few of making lots of money.
      • Oh, and by the way, if you conclude through extrapolation that the failure of pharmaceutical X to make lots of money because society decides there is a greater cause, immediately disincentivizes the whole industry (leading of course to the collapse of civilization as we know it...or something), I suggest you reexamine your assumptions about the motives for doing such work - for example, it's taken for granted that people *will* work without compensation on many things, e.g. Open Source software. In an extreme case, I'm sure the death of one given pharmaceutical company is not going to destroy the entire future of human research into pharmaceuticals.
        • Re:Example? (Score:5, Funny)

          by Erasmus Darwin (183180) on Thursday August 23, 2001 @11:06AM (#2208143)
          "for example, it's taken for granted that people *will* work without compensation on many things, e.g. Open Source software."

          Announcing the release of OpenAntiHystX 0.2b:

          BECAUSE THE DRUG IS LICENSED FREE OF CHARGE, THERE IS NO WARRANTY FOR THE DRUG, TO THE EXTENT PERMITTED BY APPLICABLE LAW. EXCEPT WHEN OTHERWISE STATED IN WRITING THE COPYRIGHT HOLDERS AND/OR OTHER PARTIES PROVIDE THE DRUG "AS IS" WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EITHER EXPRESSED OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. THE ENTIRE RISK AS TO THE QUALITY AND PERFORMANCE OF THE DRUG IS WITH YOU. SHOULD THE DRUG PROVE DEFECTIVE, YOU ASSUME THE COST OF ALL NECESSARY MEDICAL TREATMENT OR FUNERAL COSTS.

          What's new in 0.2b:

          • Removed a protein group that caused some people who're allergic to peanuts to enter anaphylactic shock, with potentially lethal consequences. Thanks to the widow of Jerry Henderson for reporting this.
          • The specified manufacturing process was resulting in residual benzene being left in approximately 4% of the pills in each batch. Temporary workaround applied (testing each pill) until we can come up with a permanent fix.
          • I've set up a paypal account so people can contribute to the FDA approval cost fund. It's still a long way off, but we should probably start saving up now.
          • I've had several people mail me about abdominal cramps. MAKE SURE YOU'RE USING THE LATEST VERSION. The abdominal cramp issue was fixed, along with several other bugs, back in release 0.2a.
          • After several round-table discussions with both RMS and the FDA, we've been able to agree that the licensing clause requiring development forks to use a substantially different name (so as to avoid consumer confusion) is acceptable within the Free Drug tenets.
    • Pharaceutical R&D is intensely expensive. Screwing the companies that fund research is a bad solution to what is at heart a political problem.

      How is AIDS a political problem?

      And while R&D might be expensive, Big Pharma is still making coin hand over fist, and none of the drug companies are getting out of that industry because it is not financially viable

      The issue is that Roche (et.al.) want to charge more for a few doses of drugs than people in third world countries can expect to make in a year. This is clearly unacceptable.
    • stop developing drugs no one will ever pay you for

      or turn over pharmaceutical research duties to Universities. That way the Uni's can peruse research that leads to *HEALHTY PEOPLE* and not to simple economic-profit.

      Pretty Fucking Simple(R)(TM) isnt it.

      • or turn over pharmaceutical research duties to Universities. That way the Uni's can peruse research that leads to *HEALHTY PEOPLE* and not to simple economic-profit.

        Yes, let's dump a task with the potential for massive financial gain or loss squarely on the shoulders of the academic researchers we depend on to serve as unbiased and objective observers of commercial science. That way, we'll have no one who can't be bought off by pharmaceutical money, and we'll just have to believe everything they tell us.

        Great idea.
    • ...stop developing drugs no one will ever pay you for.

      That is an oversimplification. Do you follow the news? For example, the makers of Prilosec (Costs over US$100 for 30 pills) are suing a generic drug maker now as a manuver to extend their patent protection beyond october. And this manuver will work. That is the reality of our patent system. Their patent has already been in effect for 13 years. They make over US$100 million per year on this drug. Excuse me, how many years do you need before you recover your RD costs and pad your pockets real good?

      Stop being brain washed. It isn't healthy.
      • You need a lot of years, because you aren't just covering the R&D of the successful projects, but that of the failed ones too.

        Stop being brain washed. It isn't healthy.
    • It's eminent domain. The cost of treating the victims and paying the drug companies is too high for Brazil. Paying massive fees to the drug companies will not make the country as productive as treating its citizens. This isn't a Gordian knot here. Treat your citizens first. Worry about the non-Brazilian drug companies later.

      One may argue that this sets a bad precident but oh well. There are other first world countries which will front the costs for R&D. I don't see why this should bother Brazil's government at all. Hey, if there was a fatal disease that infected 25% of the American population and the only way to maintain it (not cure you, just keep you going) was a $1000/month treatment you know the first politician who ripped that patent out of some company's hands and developed a $10/month treatment would wind up President.

    • Pharmaceutical companies spend more money on marketing than they do on R&D. I don't have a source for that information I can quote, but I did read it on a news site a few weeks ago.
    • by jd (1658)
      Is it expensive because that's an inherent part of the research, or is it expensive because - up to now - there's been absolutely no incentive to keep the costs sensible?


      Let's stop and think about this, for a moment. Let's say there's some drug company A, which currently:

      • Uses a lot of animal research (expensive on licences, expensive on security, expensive on animal feed, expensive on animals, and expensive on space)
      • Fills out patents for absolutely everything, valid or not (expensive on lawyers, expensive on patent filings, expensive on patent defences)
      • Has a PR department the size of a small city (just flat-out expensive)
      • Sponsors anything under the sun that might grab attention (ditto)
      • Has at least one upper management in the world's hundred richest (where's their income coming from?)
      • Has lawsuits from hell, from products which are seriously questionable (expensive isn't the word)
      • Has approval costs & campaign fund donations to cover (ditto)


      Now, let's say that this company were to streamline management, get rid of big, gas-guzzling company cars, switch as much as possible from animal testing to computer simulation at the molecular level, were to make prices affordable (rather than sponge off insurance companies), and were to dump all superfluous costs, would "research" still be expensive?


      I suspect you'd find that costs are artificially inflated. Because they -can- sponge off insurance companies, and charge what they like (because they know that direct sales will be negligable, and insurance companies don't care, cos they can pass on the costs to corporations), there is absolutely no reason for a drug company to make research optimal. (If anything, the high money throughput looks good on the balance sheets. Makes it look like they're doing something useful.)


      Powerful beowulf-style or MOSIX-style clusters cost next to nothing, compared to the kinds of figures these companies throw around daily. Computing power of this kind is enough to simulate nuclear explosions, where the physics is bleeding-edge (vaporised edge?). I think it can handle chemical interactions in a human body, where the systems are much less, ummm, explosive, and reasonably well-behaved.


      Once you know the energies of each chemical bond, the valency of each atom, and the chemical structure of each compound, the rest is fairly simple maths. Provided the energy of an interaction exceeds the threshold at which a reaction will take place, the interaction will (generally) result in the lowest energy-state. That can all be modelled on a computer, without much difficulty.


      Add in that elements and compounds can substitute for something similar, that the body is awash with all sorts of reactive stuff, that "semi-permeable membranes" are only semi-permeable above a certain size of molecule, and aren't going to be permeable at all above some limit, that cells are horribly complex things, and that you've also got electrical circuits to play with, you can see it's not a trivial problem.


      But it IS a solvable one, and it is STILL well within the capacity of a large cluster.


      One such cluster can replace a large chunk of staff, all sorts of specialized animal facilities, other related expenses, etc, with a single piece of hardware that might take one or two people to maintain and can be re-used as often as you like.


      Sure, you still need "live" testing, but since you can do that AFTER you've done computer testing, you need much much less of it to get equal or better results. (The simulation will also give you clues as to what to look for, where, how, and when.)


      It would also all but eliminate the multi-billion dollar lawsuits, the need to excessive PR campaigns to stay on the public's good side, and all that other crap.


      In short, I cannot see a single reason why pharmacutical R&D is -inherently- expensive, only that it is because it's designed to be.

  • I'm glad to see common sense and the common good win over so-called IP rights. Too bad Roche seems to have missed the boat for a great philanthropic opportunity.


    I hope that events such as this one will help some companies realize that there's more to business than just having a good IP portfolio.

  • Bullshit. (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by FatSean (18753)
    I sincerely doubt all the AIDS cases in Brazil were caused by blood transfusion, or passed from mother to child. A high percentage of those infected became that way by choices they made in regard to sexual activity and sharing of needles. In this age of education, AIDS is generally acquired do to ignoring precautions. Ignorance is no answer.
  • I think it's good to see that there are some governments out there not looking out for corporate interests when it comes to a person's well being. While the Swiss company will probably sue out the wazoo against the government of Brazil for patent infringement, I beleive Brazil in this case has set an excellent precedent regarding patents on medicine that hold the potential to keep someone who is terminally ill from dying.

    Brazil has also set many other precedents, including one that US (and the rest of the world) has to yet catch on with - clean emission alcohol powered cars [consumerenergycenter.com]. Unfortunately, because of who we have at 1600 Pennsylvania, I don't expect many of these to be around until after he leaves office.
    • I looked at the page, and noticed a few things.

      The cars they are talking about began manufactuer in the 1997 model year (meaning, they were built in 1996).

      Who was in the White House then? I mean, it wasnt GWB, was it? How come we havent seen many of them up until this point? I mean busy hasnt been in office for more than a few months. Did he kill them off since then? Care to explain why the Clinton Administration didn't get people in these cars massively?

      I'll give you a hint: it has to do with consumers, then congress, and then far down on the list the Whitehouse. Do you expect that after Bush leaves it will be like a light-switch switch to these vehicles?

      No, of course not. But if you feel you must spread blantant lies because of a petty dislike for a person, please, go ahead. We can all see through it.
      • I simply did a search on google for a quick link to explain what an alcohol/ethanol powered car was and it's benefits. The Clinton Administration focused on electric cars. They wanted car makers to develop those types of vehicles for the mass market. Unfortunately, car makers and researchers are finding that electric cars are not as feasible as they once thought they were, hence the reason alcohol as an alternative to gasoline. Brazil is one of only a few (if not only) countries out there to embrace such a vehicle, as they have somewhere in the neighborhood of 4 million alcohol cars.

        The reason I say that GWB won't do much about alcohol (and other alternative fuels) powered cars is because of his own corporate interests. He is a former oil company executive and during his tenure as Governer of Texas, he showed his support for oil companies multiple times, and he has already shown such support as President. Hence he (and his administration) will not be embracing alternative fuels, as they will be hurting the oil industry in doing so.
  • by Shivetya (243324) on Thursday August 23, 2001 @09:41AM (#2207603) Homepage Journal
    There are a few reasons this is a bad trend. Now they are using a public health problem as an excuse to void a valid international patent because they did not get the agreement they wanted. This plays very well in the press, "bad evil company would rather see people die than sell their stuff cheaper" instead of saying "country refuses to pay a fair price for drugs to save its own people"

    Want a story that is similar, but on a more "person" level. White farmers losing their property in Zimbabwe, because its not fair that they have it.

    This is the new trend, government are going to take what they want and justify it in any shape or form. While they start off doing this with the cover of "saving lives" how long before it becomes anything they want?

    So here are some of the real problems.

    1. Basically Brazil breaks the agreed internation law and makes the stuff for free, thereby forcing other nations to either follow their example of pay the difference. (see South Africa's example - do it or we take your companies assests)

    2. Reduces the possibility of region specific drugs NOT being developed because companies rightfully fear losing all investment. (some diseases are more prevalent in certain areas of the world - that is an obvious statement).

    3. Raises spectre of loss of intellectual property on other levels, and more and more are confiscated for the "public good"

    4. Increases the likelyhood of similar industries leaving "hostile" countries furthering the problem that country faces.

    When do we stop? Who can judge what is a fair price for something? Who can judge what can fairly be patented?

    Apparently people are willing to allow those with the guns to do it, and not realize its the first step to losing their own rights.

    • If the drug companies were charging a fair price, this action wouldn't have been necessary.

      The Brazilians are making the drugs themseleves. They are covering all the equipment, raw materials and labor. What they aren't doing is paying the exorbitant patent licencing fees, that are decided, rather like college tuition, based on how much you can afford and then some.

      Yes, the drug companies need to recover their costs (and make a profit). An AIDS treatment will sell like hot cakes right up until a cure is discovered. Moderate, non-prejudicial licence fees will give them that. What it won't do is please the stockholders of the drug companies who bought in at a price that makes the dotcom bubble look sane, and now expect returns.

    • 3. Raises spectre of loss of intellectual property on other levels, and more and more are confiscated for the "public good"

      and you think this is bad? Are you Satanic and trying to bring on the end of the world or something?
      Public good means that ALL OF US GET RICH, and there's more to riches than money.

    • While I support patents, Has Brazil signed any treaties or agreements supporting others' patent laws? If not then they can legally make all the drugs they want.
    • This appears to be a trend with Brazil.

      For a while, Canada has been fighting Brazil over subsidies in their aviation industry. From what I understand, the government gives big subsidies and extremely low or no interest loans to buyers of Brazilian aircraft.

      Canada brought them to the WTO and won (it was hurting Bombardier, which BTW the government controls part of because it saved it's ass many years ago). Regardless, the Brazilans have refused to comply or fully comply and there's been a little on again, off again trade war (a while ago it's with beef).

      All this seems so childish but, when it comes to doing AIDs drugs, the people they are really hurting are those in the western countries who will probably end up paying more to offset any type of loss.

      On a related note, India is doing the same thing with AIDs drugs: ignoring International IP to make cheap versions. The difference was the Indian government & pharmaceuticals planned on selling them mostly in Africa (sorry, I don't have a link to the story).
    • >While they start off doing this with the cover of
      >"saving lives" how long before it becomes anything
      >they want?

      This is some of the most annoying rhetorics I've ever heard on Slashdot... If we let kids watch horror movies, how long until they start watching porn and God(tm) knows what else? If we let marijuana go legal (for health reasons, of course), how long before we legalize cocaine? If we let guns in the hands of kids (for hunting, of course), how long before my 5 year old baby starts to shoot one? You can use that sentence for ANY bloody argument, and it's starting to tick me off - how many times do Slashdotters have to hear/say that? How about, if we start letting pharmaceutical companies charge whatever they want, in spite of the deaths of thousands, when will they stop and actually care about humans? You'd think after the UN caught a half dozen of these Companies for fraud (as I mentioned in another reply, sending expired medicines, etc.) that people would start to look at them more critically... I guess not... Research, no matter by who, is automatically a Good Thing (tm) to some people I guess... even if it means to the deaths of others.
    • Brazil is a sovereign government. In other words they have the right to decide what the laws in their country are. If they decide to honor human life over intelectual property that is their choice. In the same way there are countries in which software patents do not exist. In those countries you could implement one-click shoping and there is nothing Amazon could do about it. Just because there is an international agreement dosen't mean you have to follow it. Look at the U.S. and Dubya's opinion of the Kyoto accord. The international community agreed to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, but the U.S. is a sovereign power, and doesn't have to abide by it if they don't want to.

      International politics are no different then playground politics. There are two kids playing on the playground Tom and Jack. Jack wants to play on the swing, Tom dosen't want him to. Tom can do a few things, he can try and reason with Jack, he can threaten Jack, or he can go get the teacher. The pharmasucitcal companies and their parent nations can try and convince Brazil this is a bad thing, they can threaten Brazil with sactions or military retaliation, or they can go running to the WTO. The teacher(WTO) can still only do so much though. If Jack decides that the fun from playing on the swing is worth going to the principal's office then there isn't much the WTO can do. Especially if Jack knows that his did won't punish him when he gets home. On the field of intenational politics, the same as on the playground one rule reigns over all others, might makes right. If the U.S. wanted to invade Brazil and stop them, they could. But the U.S. isn't going to, but this little IP dispute isn't worth a war to anyone.
    • by FreeUser (11483) on Thursday August 23, 2001 @11:39AM (#2208336)
      There are a few reasons this is a bad trend. Now they are using a public health problem as an excuse to void a valid international patent because they did not get the agreement they wanted. This plays very well in the press, "bad evil company would rather see people die than sell their stuff cheaper" instead of saying "country refuses to pay a fair price for drugs to save its own people"

      Except that three assumptions here are inaccurate:

      1) Monopolies do not yield anything remotely approaching "fair prices" without serious government intervention (e.g power companies and baby bells) and often not even then.
      2) Monopolies aren't necessary for R&D expenses to be recouped, and a reasonable profit to be made.
      3) You imply that the characterization of "bad evil company would rather see people die than sell their stuff cheaper" is unfair and inaccurate, when in fact the historical and contemporary evidence is rather strong to the contrary.

      Software patents are bad. So are every other form of patent that grants government enforced monopolies and undermines the very free market upon which our economies depend. There are other ways to finance expensive R&D besides grantintg 20 year monopolies and allowing said monopolies to extort exhorbitant prices from dying people and leaving millions of less fortunates to die (or extorting payment from their impoverished governments).

      To paraphrase another blindly pro-IP comment: This should make sick every one of you that has a Free (as in liberty) bone in their body. Ideas are not property, nor are inventions inherently something to be possessed, except as a result of arbitrary laws which have turned out to have the opposite effect as was intended, namely to slow progress rather than accelerate it, and now in the process are actively resulting in the suffering and death of millions. Frankly, I do not care if someone who thinks they have a god given right to a monopoly on an idea simply because they won the footrace to the patent office is pissed ... I imagine King George (from whome we inherited this asinine system of entitlements in the first place) was pissed when the US declared independence and you know what? That didn't make it any less right to do so.
      • by Harmast (6975) on Thursday August 23, 2001 @12:43PM (#2208703) Homepage
        So are every other form of patent that grants government enforced monopolies and undermines the very free market upon which our economies depend. There are other ways to finance expensive R&D besides grantintg 20 year monopolies and allowing said monopolies to extort exhorbitant prices from dying people and leaving millions of less fortunates to die (or extorting payment from their impoverished governments).


        Really?


        I would love to hear how. Outside of the government being the only source of R&D I fail to see how it would work in the drug industry.


        The standard arguement against patents is it is cheaper for me to just buy it from you than to figure out how to make it. The time to re-engineer is enough to recoup initial costs and be competitive. An inventor who does not patent does not have to open his design to the public leaving any potential competitors to complete re-engineering.


        For many industries this is arguably true. Reverse engineering complex machinery (both physical and virtual) takes time and money that are often better spent on leap-frogging ahead instead of just catching up.


        However, a drug is, in the end, a chemical. Once isolated and make into a medicinal form it is relatively simple to identify it. That is assuming that you need to.


        You don't, however, because the chemical and lots of stuff about it are public record and would be even if there was no patent. Why? FDA testing.


        The real R&D cost of drugs is not research (identifying) but development, specifically all the human and clinical testing needed. This is not a simple or short process and extends from an experimenters first idea to full scale drug tests.


        FDA regs require specific notekeeping requirements in the labs while isolating and synthesizing(see any good book on technical writing for an outine, if it does not have an experimental notebook procedures appendex or it is not a good one). This process continues throughout the process.


        Human trials are not just X people with the target disease. The first step is dose a healthy volunteer and take vitals and blood work after 15 minutes. Then an hour. Then a day later. Then try a new dose. Months or years of these human toxicity tests preceed double blind testing for affectiveness.


        At each step the drug can fail thus wasting all money to that point.


        Thus isolating the drug, which is the effort a copycat does, is the least part of drug costs. The patent is there to repay these efforts and failed ones on the way.


        Does this increase costs to the public during the patent period? Of course, because, as you point out a patent is a monopoly which does not set fair prices in the market sense (markets require multiple independent sellers and buyers to set prices). However, as the market sets fair prices it also weeds out inefficient producers. In a pure market enviroment jumping through the FDA's hoops will always be economically inefficient, thus an intelligent drug company manager will let the other companies do R&D and just copy their efforts.


        The problem comes when all drug companies get smart. In these case the patent makes sense because government is granting a limited legal exclusiveness to those who make the expenditures to statisfy a government requirement that is the largest part of the drug price.


        If you want to get rid of drug patents I would recommend getting rid of the FDA or require the FDA to pay the costs of testing.

  • *sigh* (Score:3, Insightful)

    by omarius (52253) <omar@@@allwrong...com> on Thursday August 23, 2001 @09:43AM (#2207612) Homepage Journal
    This should make sick every one of you that has a Free* bone in their body. Drugs are inventions, as much as gadgets are inventions, and this is IP theft, plain and simple. If I spent a fortune researching and creating a drug, you bet I would be pissed if someone else started making my drug without my permission.

    I like the idea of saving people, and it would be hard to sanction or punish Brazil for doing this -- since the rest of the world would boo us off the planet. But this is wrong, people. Hell, in the long run, education will save a lot more people than this drug. This drug will not make Brazillians stop fucking each other or sharing needles or whatever it is that Brazillians do to get AIDS.

    But instead of educating and changing killer lifestyle habits, their government steals IP. This world is going to shit. But that's just MHO.

    And to be off topic for a second, those moderators who disagree with me may feel free to moderate me down as a troll for having an opinion (since that's what happened the last time I posted) -- but that won't make me less right. ;)

    -Omar
    *as in Libertarian free, not social-welfare-state free. >;)

    • I have to agree, there is a time and place for IP, but aids isn't that place.


      If you lived in a population where aids is of epidemic proportions but it costs so much to get vaccinated what would you do? Die so another company can profit?


      Sure the government should have licensed the medication, but on the other hand, the profiteering and money grubbing developers should have provided for brazil long before they needed to make this stance.


      Its ironic how we think IP in technology is different then IP in medicine. Why is it right for people to patent vacinations that could save your life, but it isn't right for someone to patent an interface that has no position of life or death?

      • If you lived in a population where aids is of epidemic proportions but it costs so much to get vaccinated what would you do? Die so another company can profit?

        For one thing, assuming I get to keep my personality and personal habits in your hypothetical transplantation, I would be in no more danger of getting AIDS in Brazil than I am here in Virginia.

        For another thing, there is no HIV vaccine. And I think the person who invents it deserves to be richer that Bill Gates.

        Sure the government should have licensed the medication, but on the other hand, the profiteering and money grubbing developers should have provided for brazil long before they needed to make this stance.

        Your first point is correct. Rather, the Brazillian Government is the only party responsible for the Brazillian people. Your second point misses mine completely. Just because I need something does not mean that I am entitled to it. I cannot steal bread because I am hungry -- I cannot steal medicine because I am sick. Is this because I am not Brazillian? Or that my hunger and sickness are not as important as Brazillian hunger and sickness?

        Its ironic how we think IP in technology is different then IP in medicine. Why is it right for people to patent vacinations that could save your life, but it isn't right for someone to patent an interface that has no position of life or death?

        I think you are inferring that I feel the same way about software patents. I don't really have a clear opinion on that, for other reasons, that are off topic and not worth discussing here. We've heard them all before anyway.

        -Omar

    • Re:*sigh* (Score:2, Insightful)

      by iomud (241310)
      I hope you're reminded of this when someone dosen't help you when it isn't in their best interest. Life is not about constantly having leverage over someone else, freedom isn't about letting people die for their mistakes. People make mistakes it's the nature of being human. What do lifestyle habits matter to people of Africa who are suffering greatly, children who haven't made any "lifestyle habits" born into AIDS and pain and death. Your humble opinion isn't so humble because you obviously know what's best for everyone, if you're making the decisions I'm leaving town.
    • Information and data cannot be owned -- they
      lack scarcity, and to grant a monopoly on a single
      idea is to steal from the potential of every
      single person on the planet. The mere fact of
      investment does not entail a responsibility for
      returns. Or do you see competition as theft?
      • "The mere fact of investment does not entail a responsibility for returns."

        If we don't provide some sort of protection, there won't be any incentive for people to invest in the first place. Would Roche have devoted the money necessary to develop this drug if anyone who is capable of manufacturing it could do so? Hell no. This drug has saved lives (well, extended them, at least -- which is all any drug can really do). This drug would probably not exist if it weren't for patents. QED...

        • For the sake of liberty we must prevent and undo
          intellectual property protections. It is simply
          unacceptable that something that I may discover,
          a thought I may have, data that I might collect
          might be blocked or require a fee for my use.
          I assert that any piece of data, any idea, any
          thought that I might acquire or synthesize is
          something that I may use as I see fit, with no
          restrictions on that action as such, including
          sharing it with others or using it for various
          purposes.

          I will not comprimise on this.
    • IP is more of a contractual agreement than a law. It's rather arbitrary and not really based on reality at all. If the citizens of Brazil never agreed to it, there isn't much reason for them to follow it.
      • Even if they did (I don't know), there is a clause which allows governments to suspend patents, exactly for cases like this. And industry got a say in those patent agreements too, so they shouldn't whine when it is used in a correct manner.

        //rdj
    • OK, so the subject line is a little inflammitory, and thus, by actually stating an opinion, I too am moderator-bait. We share that much at least. ;)

      But as for your opinion itself... can you actually be serious?

      You've got a country full of dying people. There's a drug available that can save a goodly number of them. It's expensive, and you're poor. You have the ability to reverse-engineer the drug (or just steal the formula outright, whatever) and produce it yourself for minimal cost.

      Would you, as the leader of this country, REALLY allow people to DIE a slow, lingering, and very painful death just because a piece of paper says you have too?

      I'm sorry, not me. As a hypothetical Brazillian leader, my duty is to serve the people of my country, not some foreign drug company. If they won't play ball on price, then we do what we gotta do to save them.

      The point on education is a salient one, but this is not a zero-sum game - producing the drug does not mean a reduction in education, nor does increasing education do a dammned thing for those already infected.

      This case is one of the best examples for the "IP is bogus, information wants to be free" position that I've seen. We're not talking about music files or games here, this is information that will actually SAVE REAL HUMAN LIVES, that a corporation wants hidden and protected SO IT CAN MAKE MONEY.

      If that doesn't make you sick to your stomach, I don't know what will.

      This is my real issue with the Libertarians of the world. There is no place in their world-view for the public project, done for the benefit of mankind. Everything must have a profit motive, and protecting profits has priority over all else.

      Just like Marxist-Leninism goes too far, by wanting _everything_ state-owned and state-run, Libertarian goes too far by giving all control to the private sector. Either extreme is insane. The Real World requires compromise, and I for one am glad to see Brazil stick up for REAL freedom, and do what is right.

    • Funny, we all talk about free as in speech, free as in beer, but never about the freedom to survive. This is not a freedom that is given, this is typically the freedom you take, and surprise - if you don't take it, you die.

      The issue here is not whenether this is just or not, or even legal (which in this case is debatable). The issue is about dying or not. If you where in the same situation, you would take the same decision. Of course, you need to prentend that something justifies what happens to them, they did this or that wrong... Surprise, shit happens, and if you don't have enought money, you're fucked. So you either sit there and die, or do something...

      The day you get cancer or another serious illness, and will not be able to pay the medication you will also don't care about the pharma's funding IP law, you will want to live.

      The only thing you can be sure is that other people will find good excuses why you should die, you should have worn more sun-screen, you should not have eaten marshmallows, you should not have lived in the US, you should not have worked with a computer, of course with such a livestyle you had it comming, etc...

      I just hope you won't need to understand this the hard way...

      • Funny, we all talk about free as in speech, free as in beer, but never about the freedom to survive. This is not a freedom that is given, this is typically the freedom you take, and surprise - if you don't take it, you die.

        I think that you are inferring that survival is a "right" as opposed to a "freedom" -- or at least in the way I use those terms. If I am correct in my assumption of your meaning, then I must disagree. Survival is not a right. You have no right to live -- only the right to be free from being harmed by others. If I push you in the water, then I am an attempted murderer and deserve to be harshly punished. If I see you're in the water and I deign not to risk my life to save you, I may be unkind, but I am not infringing your rights, either. Likewise, you have no right to have your brother or your government point a gun at me and force me to risk my life to save you.

        The day you get cancer or another serious illness, and will not be able to pay the medication you will also don't care about the pharma's funding IP law, you will want to live.

        I sure will! But again, I have no right to expect someone to help me. As I stated in another post, I do not have a right to something just because I need it. I need money to get my pickup truck fixed. Will you give it to me? I need my truck! I demand your money! I have a right to your money -- you don't need it as much as I do! Do you see how foolish that is?

        And yes, your last point is correct. I think everyone is responsible for their own actions. If I do something that kills me, then it is nobody's fault but my own, now is it? If it is my lifestyle to jump out of the tops of trees, are you going to pay my medical bills for me? Because I am hurt and have a right to your money?

        -Omar

    • in the long run, education will save a lot more people than this drug.

      But instead of educating and changing killer lifestyle habits, their government steals IP. This world is going to shit.


      So screw the people who are already infected. They are going to die anyways (they cannot afford the treatment), and will not be able to afford the cure when one becomes available. By all means let us work to protect the rights of the shareholders. Who cares about some poor people who live in some third-world nation anyways.

      Geez, some people think that simply because they are human, they have some inherent rights and deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.

      I suspect that if you were living in those slums in Brazil, you might have a slightly different opinion...
    • This should make sick every one of you that has a Free* bone in their body.

      Most everyone else on the planet dosnt believe that they are "free" to abuse government greed (gov-granted monopolies) to kill people, in effort to make themselves massive profit.
      Drugs are inventions, as much as gadgets are inventions, and this is IP theft, plain and simple.

      IP dosnt exist. Intellectually free societies cannot have 'intellectual property' lest they be complacent hypocrites. Patent law was a condition, an agreement, where people would forsake their rights to do as they wanted in effort to reward creation. This is obviously, especially in this case NOT a 'fair deal'. People are dying -> your profit 'right' ceases. Simple.

      If I spent a fortune researching and creating a drug, you bet I would be pissed if someone else started making my drug without my permission.

      You dont know anything about BigPharm. They spend far more on Marketing (pen-giveaways/junkets/propaganda) than research. Even their research is Seriously subsidized by public grants && further aided by massive tax breaks for what they do spend. See: http://www.mercola.com/2000/june/24/pharmaceutical _industry.htm [mercola.com]

      Does Libertarian now mean "misguided, myopic, clueless freemarket fetishist"? I always knew libertarianism was an extreme free-market religion where people wage economic wars, and 'economic' might was right where capital owners could do as they pleased. Have Libertarians devolved into street-thug-styled-anarchists* without a conscience?

      *Apologies to cluefull Anarchists, Anarchist in the Traditional-Political sense, not the clueless USA synonym for 'street-thug who advocates chaos.'

  • Drugs for Profit (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cd-w (78145) on Thursday August 23, 2001 @09:46AM (#2207626) Homepage
    While I hate to side with the large drug companies on such a sensitive issue:

    It is a fact of life that if the drug companies do not get paid for their R&D, then they will not bother to produce new drugs for combating AIDS and similar diseases.

    As proof of this, consider how many new Malaria drugs are produced? Basically, there is no profit in R&D for malaria, so drug companies simply don't bother.

    So, in the short-term this may seem like a good idea, but in the long term it could do serious damage to the search for an AIDS cure.
    • Humans are a strange bunch sometimes... Tens of thousands of people are dying in a poor country that couldn't afford to pay these companies for their research and pills, yet we attack them for ripping off these multi-billion dollar companies, many of whom have been caught doing undasterdly things themselves (sending expired medicines to Africa and other poor countries and using that "aid" and "goodwill" as advertising, overcharging countries who can't afford medicine, etc.).

      I guess, in a way, you can boil it down to, What's more important: Making money or saving lives/helping your fellow human? If this were a perfect world (which it obviously is not), universities or other not-for-profit organizations would gladly take up the research and not expect to earn a profit (at least, earn enough to cover R&D, which most pharmaceutical companies make 10-fold).
    • by GregWebb (26123) on Thursday August 23, 2001 @12:08PM (#2208510)
      This is a serious post, not a troll, not flamebait but I'm still fishing out the asbestos modem.

      Uncomfortable a truth as this is, it only highlights the fundamental problem of capitalist research. When (a category of) research into improving the human situation is only carried out by capitalist organisations, that research is inevitably going to be targetted around the needs of those most able to pay for the end result. Who, let's be honest, aren't going to be the greatest possible recipients of research to improve the human situation.

      Now, AIDS research is very important. Partly due to the massive third world AIDS pandemic (except, oops, they can't afford the drugs...) and partly due to generic research intro retrovirii. But think about what could happen if the money put into various other bits of research was spent on, for examples, cholera, river blindness, malaria, measles and so on. I'm not going to provide examples of possible targets for the money to come from, that's just going to get emotive.

      Think about it, though. If medical research was primarily (or entirely) funded by society as a whole as opposed to by the proceeds of research then, in theory, we wouldn't have this problem. While it remains a part of a capitalist system it is inevitable.

      I'm not a communist (Honest! Capitalism has its uses and the people have a right to choose!) but it's difficult to escape the conclusion that this sort of case exposes the limitations of capitalism rather starkly.
  • by NineNine (235196) on Thursday August 23, 2001 @09:52AM (#2207663)
    Well, that's probably going to be it as far as new drugs in the fight against AIDS. Drugs cost millions (billions?) to develop and test and distribute. If other companies are going to allow these patents to be violated, there's virtually no incentive for drug companies to develop any new drugs to fight AIDS. So yeah, Brazil and other countries who adopt this tactic may get some short term gains, but long term, it's going to kill AIDS patients. Literally.
  • After reading a few posts stating that there's the danger of such actions disencouraging research, I would like to add:

    - The law says that the gov't can issue a compulsory license, which doesn't mean public domain or copying the process for free, but gives the power to the state to set the terms of the license. This is consistent with a constitutional principle that public (not gov't!) weel-being is more important than the weel-being of a few individuals.

    - The law also sets a period after which this compulsory licensing can be done. I'm not sure whether it's 2 or 3 years, but should aloow for a reasonable pay-bak period.

    - According to the Boston Globe article, a ptient in Brazil costs US$ 350.00, while the same tratment costs US$ 10,000.00 in the US. Clearly, there's plenty of margin for cutting.

    Other few points people maybe should be aware of:

    - Health Minister José Serra most definitely has an eye in next year presidential elections.

    - It is illegal for individuals and private companies in Brazil to trade AIDS medicine, except for selling to the gov't. My brother died of AIDS in 97 and my mother ended up with a big supplt of DDI, which she returned to the health service. She would have done that anyway, but imagine the kind of abuse that would take place if you could obtain medication for free and trade it.

  • we need more gonvernments who put the people first and not the corporations.IMHO this reflects well on your people and culture, and the ethics you hold.

  • This is they way things actually work. The world we live in is mostly created through artificial laws and regulations that have no real basis in reality. Intellectual property? Yeah, whatever. If the drug is so simple to recreate that the government of brazil can do so without assistance from the drug's owners, so be it. When did Brazil's citizens agree to go along with IP Laws?
    • If the drug is so simple to recreate that the government of brazil can do so without assistance from the drug's owners, so be it.


      Everything's easy once someone else has done it first. Why did it take thousands of years for humanity to develop electrical power, when you can walk into any corner drugstore in the world now and buy a pack of batteries? Do you see where I'm going with this?


      When did Brazil's citizens agree to go along with IP Laws?


      Are you trying to say that you believe it's OK to simply ignore any law that you don't agree with?

  • by SirSlud (67381) on Thursday August 23, 2001 @10:10AM (#2207778) Homepage
    The points regarding that this action will discourage R&D are probably true, to the extent that this move may cause companies to reduce their R&D budgets. But what good is R&D and new drugs and technologies if only x% of the world can take advantage of developments supposedly in the name of 'humanity'?

    There are countries out there that could have many, many, many more people and companies working on the same solutions, thus spreading the R&D costs across more organizations and making information and research sharing more cost effective. Unfortunately, those countries are having a tough time, in various capacities, keeping their population alive, let alone wealthy enough to invest in new companies, research facilities, etc. Of course, neo-liberalism preaches the 'more for me, less for you' mantra, so the existing companies don't really warm to the idea of more 'competition'. If they could have their way, everyone in said countries would buy their drugs, but not get well enough to spur technological development in that country. Poor people are always a companies favorite customer .. no leverage, no money management skills (when you don't have money, you don't learn how to manage it); and less education increases the likelihood that you will repeat the act that caused you to require the product in the first place somewhere down the road.

    For an industry that was caught redhanded not so long ago in an industry-wide price fixing scam (yes, Roche participated) [healthnet.org], I think they have alot of nerve complaining about losing patent fees in areas where their cure could stop an epidemic of life-threatening deseises, in addition to helping set the stage for opportunities, development, research and growth in the countries that need it.
  • The next big thing(tm) might not have the same amount of effort or ressources ported to it if there's a precedent of patent smashing...

    SOME are public funded, but not all... and I doubt that the majority of the top minds in this world are working in a public funded environment, I am not saying there's none, but surely not a majority.
  • by Shivetya (243324) on Thursday August 23, 2001 @10:21AM (#2207871) Homepage Journal
    http://www.viracept.com/3_DOSING/AGVR.pdf

    Its pretty complex, but tell me why Brazil or anyone else should have to pay at least something for developing this, let alone testing it?
  • by Artagel (114272) on Thursday August 23, 2001 @10:33AM (#2207955) Homepage
    How Brazil handles itself *after* its decision to go ahead and manufacture the drug will define whether Brazil is a country that stands for the rule of law or for the rule of lawlessness.

    Brazil is exercising one of the undisputed powers of a sovereign -- to take what it needs. A lawful sovereign pays reasonable compensation for what it takes. Thus, in civilized countries, when land is taken to build a road, the landowner does not get to veto the road, does not get to extort an unreasonably high price for being the last piece of land needed to build the road, etc. He gets reasonable, just compensation, and such a right is guaranteed by the courts of the country.

    In common law countries the "rule of necessity" is not limited to sovereigns. For example, you are permitted to tresspass in certain conditions because of necessity. A classic example is a ship docking to avoid a killer storm. That does not mean not having to pay afterwards for what you take, or what you damage, however. "Necessity" defines conditions where you can "take it and pay a reasonable amount."

    Brazil had a contract with Roche to provide drug that it is going to honor. Brazil is gearing up to provide its own generic version of the drug after the contract expires because it has been unable to reach agreement with Roche as to a price at which Roche will continue providing it. Brazil is taking. If it decides to take for free, it stands as an example of lawlessness. In such a case, it should be punished heavily by international trade organizations.

    If it taking because of the impending necessity, with the intent to pay an agreed amount afterward, then it really is a tempest in a teapot. "Reasonable" in this case is certainly *not* what the generic would cost on the generic market. Reasonably prices are not negotiated under the threat of imminent death -- that's why courts often settle the "take and pay" price assigned to necessity situations.
  • I wonder (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mjgamble (79684) on Thursday August 23, 2001 @11:18AM (#2208221) Homepage
    How many /.ers have worked for a pharmaceutical company? How many have seen 7 years of research go down the tubes after promising studies find that the drug has a serious adverse effect on .5% of the people taking it and the last 7 years of your life were for naught.

    Does anyone around here understand how business works anymore? Where do you think retirement funds get funded from? Corporations are not run by some maniacal CEO hellbent on a conspiracy for world domination. I'm not out for world dominatino. I know my manager isn't. I've met his boss and his bosses boss. At what level do people instantly turn evil?

    Why do you think companies spend, on average, $1 billion to develop each new marketable drug? For fun? A drug spends as much as 10 years in the research phase before going to market. Anywhere along the way it may be found to be a) not as affective as hoped or b) not safe enough to market. Rinse, lather, repeat. Assuming it does make it to market, it may only have 5-7 years before generic competition forces the original research company to stop selling the drug for any kind of profit. The government, btw, does not contribute any measurable percentage of the research cost to the private company.

    Don't like marketing? I hate it more than anyone else out there, I assure you. I see it every day and it makes me ill. But it helps make sales, and it subsidizes low income patients (free samples to doctors from sales reps mainly go to elderly and those without health insurance). And all those revenues go back to, guess what, research for more drugs.

    Don't like the pharmaceutical companies and their high prices? Don't buy their drugs. I will help keep them in business. I'm paying for a service (research). A drug's price isn't the price of materials or shipping really. It's payment for the service they did by spending time and money researching and refining a single compound out of tens of thousands that may help me live longer or better. But to turn around and say thanks and not be willing to pay for it is asking thousands of people to work for free and without reward for all their hard work.

    As much as I would like to think that helping my fellow man is enough of a reward, I know that it isn't. It doesn't pay my light bill or put food on the table or get me any of those nice shiny computers I play with. I work to make a living to pay for things that I need (and the extra goes to things I want). Extrapolate that up from the individual and you have corporations. That's just the way it is. They need money to pay the light bills, run their supercomputers, and pay the scientists. And you need to survive the drug pipeline (go talk to Bayer and Merck about how much those suck right now).

    [Disclaimer: none of this is representative of my employer, my clients, or anyone but myself. Two cents.]
  • by under_score (65824) <mishkin-slashdotNO@SPAMberteig.com> on Thursday August 23, 2001 @11:31AM (#2208290) Homepage
    how fucked up the world is these days.

    Come on, the fact that this had to happen is a result of the worst possible combination of MORAL decision making. The Brazilian government is making a bad decision, but it is still the best decision under the circumstances. International law and patents are important yes, but human lives are infinitely more important. Does anyone here get that?

    And don't go thinking about any "long-term" crap about saving lives by maintaining corporate profits on research through patents. That's BS too. Governments have a very direct responsibility for the quality of their constituents lives. That's why we support (through taxation usually) research on environmentally friendly technologies, basic reasearch on health, etc. That is the long-term stuff.

    By breaking the patent on AIDS drugs, Brazil is definately keeping their long-term interests in mind:

    1. healthier population leads to more human resources
    2. healthier population leads to more grateful constituents who then focus on proactive behavior rather than complaining about their govt
    3. corporations learn that there are limits to how far they can push their greed - will start to strategize in a new conceptual framework and will certainly still be "successful" in creating value for shareholders
    4. good example set of human lives before profits for the rest of the world - allows Brazil to have an excellent international reputation allowing their citizens more access to international facilities, governments, and other processes
  • by Tord (5801) <tord...jansson@@@gmail...com> on Thursday August 23, 2001 @12:47PM (#2208728) Homepage
    I see loads and loads of comments here in support of the medicine company that either bashes or seriously questions Brasil's decision in this matter. I also see how their comments are given high moderation points for their insightfullness and I also see flaws in their reasoning and logic.

    I therefore thinks it's time for a reality check and discuss some FACTS before we start to take sides:

    1.Quite some comments says or hints that Brasil is breaking "international laws". Wake up. There is no international body declaring international laws. What Brasil is breaking is international AGREEMENTS on how to treat patents. Brasil is in their full right to break this agreement if they discover that it costs more and gives less than they anticipated. That the medicine company is crying "foul" is just to be expected, but their handling of this situation really asked for it.

    2. How much of the medical research is actually financed by medical corporations that rely on patents for their income? I have no real statistics, but I remember reading that here in Sweden around half of the funding of cancer research is financed by "Cancerfonden" that gathers donations (from government, companies and individuals) for cancer research. Add to that all funding done by institutions as universities and hospitals and you find that commercial medical research is in the minority. Remember, this is in Sweden where we have an unproportionally big medicine industry compared to our population.

    3. Remember that patents isn't just a protection of your discovery, it also blocks your competition from inovating along the same branch! Patents both rewards and stiffles inovation from time to time. There is no proof whatsoever that the patent system has led to a higher rate of innovation in any field ever. We have just followed a logical string of thoughts and reasonings to come to the conclusion that patents do increase inovation. This reasoning is built on the assumption that we have a mostly correct perception of the world.

    4. People here are commenting on how patents affect a business that they don't know anything about. Many falls into making the same kind of generalisation that we constantly have to defend ourselves against, that patents are good and drive inovation and that there would be much less inovation without it. We know that it isn't true for software development. How can you state it as a truth for another industry that also differs a lot from normal mechanical innovation without really knowing anything about that industry?

    5. Doesn't the fact that we are forced to chose between peoples lives and getting money to future research that will save peoples lives tell you that something is wrong with the system? We need competition and rewards to get research in medicine, but we don't need the blocking (in both research and applying the results) that the patent system gives.

    There are other ways to raise funding, encourage competition and give rewards than just applying the patent system. Isn't it time we take a look at some other possible sollutions now that we clearly can see that the patent system doesn't work as it should in the medical field?

    If the system is broken, then fix it...

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