Thursday, October 28, 2004

OH, WHAT THE HECK: It seems everybody else is posting something of a political nature these days, so I thought I'd throw out something that struck me as monstrously vapid written by the pinko Boston Globe. Of course the Globe, who likes to blame Bush for everything from hurricanes to stubbed toes, came out in its op-ed pages to (surprise!) blame Bush for the vaccine shortages. Not being one to leave well enough alone, Robert Kuttner goes on to give his magical recipe for never being short on vaccines again:

What should the administration be doing? First, it should require several drug makers to work with the CDC to develop flu vaccines. The industry is profitable thanks to extended patent protection, publicly funded basic research, and FDA seals of approval. It should gladly make vaccines at only a normal profit as a civic thank-you for all it gets from government.

Second, Congress should pass a law, as it did in the swine flu crisis of 1976 indemnifying manufacturers and physicians against lawsuits. If the FDA approves a vaccine, that should be sufficient assurance. Government could set up a public compensation fund for the rare victim of a faulty vaccination.

Third, government should be the purchaser and distributor of the vaccines. That would both guarantee manufacturers a market and would create a rational plan for priority distribution. And these vaccines should never be patented. As Dr. Jonas Salk, creator of the polio vaccine, famously said: "Who owns my vaccine? The people! Could you patent the sun?"
Oh dear. Now, for those that feel I may be a little heavy handed on the Globe, consider what was posted in the People's Weekly Word Newspaper a few days ago:

JWJ also estimated yearly savings of $140 billion by stripping drug companies of monopolies over marketing drugs . . .

In addition, JwJ urges the U.S. eliminate patent monopolies by having the federal government finance all drug research. Publicly funded research, plus similar research at nonprofit organizations such as universities and foundations, account for more than half of total U.S. drug research spending, JwJ says. Drug companies spent $33.2 billion on R&D last year, their lobby says. But Families USA points out the drug companies spent more than double that on advertising and marketing.

Just where do they find these people?

NOTE: It is interesting that, although Jonas Salk did not find it appropriate to patent the polio vaccine, he appears to be an inventor on 7 patents related to AIDS prevention and treatment.

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