NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


November 3, 2005

The avian flu has the whole health care community and Washington worried about the chance of a deadly outbreak; and while the warnings are important, Washington must protect the patents on anti-viral drugs so we can protect ourselves in the future, says Dan Gainor of the Media Research Center.

Tamiflu -- from Swiss drug maker Roche -- is useful as a preventive measure and treatment for the avian flu, but companies in Taiwan and India are creating illegal generic copies with the help of their own governments and the United Nations, says Gainor. Even in the United States, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has bullied Roche with threats of losing its patent rights.

And this is not the first time politicians have done so, says Gainor:

  • Foreign governments and left-wing do-gooders have fought U.S. drug companies over HIV drugs -- especially in Africa -- and nations have claimed they have a right to overrule patents when it suits them all in the name of "world safety."
  • Every time this happens, they address only the current problem and make all future disease outbreaks more dangerous.
  • They destroy the incentive companies have to make any product from drugs to dishwashing detergent -- profit.

Taking away patent rights and making generic drugs without paying for the rights will not only discourage Roche from delivering new drugs, but also it will impact every pharmaceutical company, says Gainor; then what will happen when the virus becomes resistant and we do not have a miracle cure?

Source: Dan Gainor, "Protecting Patents Is Good For Patients," Investor's Business Daily, November 1, 2005.


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