Biotechnology Greed Is Prolonging the Pandemic. It’s Inexcusable.

Yves here. This isn’t the first savaging of Big Pharma profiteering, and sadly, because no one see fit to stop it, it won’t be the last. But the public needs to call out the costs of this greed every time it can.

And my goodness, I was going to run this post based on its headline and opening paras when I see a very nice shout out! What a pleasant surprise!

By Jag Bhalla, a writer and entrepreneur. Originally published at Undark

Greed just save the day? That’s what British Prime Minister Boris Johnson claimed recently. “The reason we have the vaccine success,” he said in a private call to Conservative members of Parliament, “is because of capitalism, because of greed.

Despite later backpedaling, Johnson’s remark reflects a widely influential but wildly incoherent view of innovation: that greed — the unfettered pursuit of profit above all else — is a necessary driver of technological progress. Call it the need-greed theory.

Among the pandemic’s many lessons, however, is that greed can easily work against the common good. We rightly celebrate the near-miraculous development of effective vaccines, which have been widely deployed in rich nations. But the global picture reveals not even a semblance of justice: As of May, low-income nations received just 0.3 percent of the global vaccine supply. At this rate it would take 57 years for them to achieve full vaccination.

This disparity has been dubbed “vaccine apartheid,” and it’s exacerbated by greed. A year after the launch of the World Health Organization’s Covid-19 Technology Access Pool — a program aimed at encouraging the collaborative exchange of intellectual property, knowledge, and data — “not a single company has donated its technical knowhow,” wrote politicians from India, Kenya, and Bolivia in a June essay for The Guardian. As of that month, the U.N.-backed COVAX initiative, a vaccine sharing scheme established to provide developing countries equitable access, had delivered only about 90 million out of a promised 2 billion doses. Currently, pharmaceutical companies, lobbyists, and conservative lawmakers continue to oppose proposals for patent waivers that would allow local drug makers to manufacture the vaccines without legal jeopardy. They claim the waivers would slow down existing production, “foster the proliferation of counterfeit vaccines,” and, as North Carolina Republican Sen. Richard Burr said, “undermine the very innovation we are relying on to bring this pandemic to an end.”

All these views echo the idea that patents and high drug prices are necessary motivators for biomedical innovation. But examine that logic closely, and it quickly begins to fall apart.

A great deal of difficult, innovative work is done in industries and fields that lack patents. Has the lack of patent protections for recipes led to any dearth of innovation in restaurants? An irritating irony here is that economists who espouse the need-greed theory themselves innovate for comparative peanuts. For instance, in 2018, the median compensation for economists was about $104,000. The typical pharmaceutical CEO, meanwhile, earned a whopping $5.7 million in total compensation that year. (The hands-on innovators aren’t the need-greeders here; the median compensation for pharmaceutical employees — including benefits — was about $177,000 in 2018.) Even in Silicon Valley, writes ever-astute technology insider Tim O’Reilly, “the notion that entrepreneurs will stop innovating if they aren’t rewarded with billions is a pernicious fantasy.”

To be sure, it was not greed but rather a vast collaborative effort — funded largely with public dollars — that generated effective coronavirus vaccines. The technology behind mRNA vaccines such as those produced by Pfizer and Moderna took decades of work by University of Pennsylvania scientists you’ve likely never heard of. According to The New York Times, one of those scientists, Katalin Kariko, “never made more than $60,000 a year” while doing her innovative foundational research. The researchers at Oxford University who developed the technology behind AstraZeneca’s vaccine, which was mostly publicly funded, initially set out with the intention of “non-exclusive, royalty-free” licensing for their vaccine. Only after pressure from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation did they renege and license the technology solely to AstraZeneca.

It was astonishing, then, when Pascal Soriot, AstraZeneca’s CEO, said that intellectual property, or IP, “is a fundamental part of our industry and if you don’t protect IP, then essentially there is no incentive for anybody to innovate.” The Oxford scientists whose work AstraZeneca licensed literally just innovated without the incentives Soriot claimed are essential. Why do journalists present need-greeder claims, such as Soriot’s, without holding the specific role of profit seeking to account?

It’s no secret that innovators (and people generally) often aren’t necessarily greed-driven. For instance, as Walter Isaacson notes in his book about superstar biochemist Jennifer Doudna’s work on Crispr gene manipulation technology, she was never motivated primarily by money. In fact, he reports that corporate maneuvering over her work made her “physically ill.” Countless cases like hers show that innovations in science and technology typically aren’t the result of genius lightning strikes but rather of field-wide efforts with multiple teams circling the same goal. If anyone withdraws for lack of greed-gratifying incentives, no problem: They’re welcome to write themselves out of history. Others will gladly grasp the glory. And we, the public, lose nothing.

Perhaps Soriot meant, more generally, that reduced revenues would cut AstraZeneca’s overall research and development (R&D) spending. But even that claim is detectably dubious. When drug makers claim that high prices are essential for innovation, they are “flat out lying” financial expert Yves Smith wrote in 2019. Smith cited data published with the Institute for New Economic Thinking showing that, between 2009 and 2018, 18 drug makers listed in the S&P 500 spent 14 percent more on stock buybacks and dividends than they did on R&D. These companies could easily ramp up investments in innovative drugs, the authors wrote, simply by reining in distributions to shareholders. (Don’t forget that share buybacks were effectively classified as illegal market manipulation until the Securities and Exchange Commission, under Reagan, relaxed the rules in 1982.)

Of the money that drug companies do invest in R&D, a significant amount for many goes not toward innovative research but to “finding ways to suppress generic and biosimilar competition while continuing to raise prices,” according to a recent report from the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform. In these cases, executive and investor greed demonstrably impede innovation. A recent Congressional hearing dramatized this issue when Rep. Katie Porter, a California Democrat, grilled the CEO of AbbVie, a biopharmaceutical company which she said spent $2.45 billion on research and development, $4.71 billion a year on marketing and advertising, and $50 billion on shareholder payoutsbetween 2013 and 2018. She characterized the idea that R&D justified astronomical prices as “the Big Pharma fairy tale.”

Even if greed makes sense for some for-profit ventures, it would be unwise for us to rely only on for-profit enterprise to harness innovation for social goals. There are many things that we must do whether they are profitable or not, and the horrific fiasco over vaccine patents has shown us that biotech executives and other members of the “thinkerati” are not above putting profits ahead of saving lives. As White House adviser Anthony Fauci noted to the Hill earlier this year, America has a “moral obligation” to “make sure that the rest of the world does not suffer and die” from something that we can help to prevent. Our government is failing in its duty to act in the public interest if it allows “your money or your life” to pass as an acceptable business model.

As an open letter signed by more than a hundred intellectual property scholars recently stated, IP rights (which includes patents) “are not, and have never been, absolute rights and are granted and recognized under the condition that they serve the public interest.” The scholars noted precedents like last year’s use of the Defense Production Act to increase production of medical supplies, and the U.S.’s commandeering of penicillin production during World War II. If Covid-19 vaccine makers refuse to make life-saving technology publicly available, governments should enact mandatory licensing or similar measures.

There are also compelling reasons to develop a standing, publicly operated rapid-response vaccine manufacturing capability. Pfizer’s CFO suggested that prices on vaccines will go up once we are out of the “pandemic-pricing environment,” noting that the company can charge nearly nine times more than they have been (“$150, $175 per dose,” the CFO said, versus the $19.50 Pfizer is charging the U.S. in one supply deal). Even if those who haven’t received a single dose of the vaccine never do, that could mean roughly a $30 billion bonanza from U.S. booster shots alone. Patient advocates estimate that it would cost just $4 billion for the U.S. to set up a public-private operation capable of manufacturing enough mRNA vaccines to immunize the whole planet, with each shot costing $2. This would be a great way for America to show global leadership, and would surely be way cheaper, both individually and collectively, than being annually “Pfizered.” Plus, the usefulness of such a facility would long outlast the current pandemic, with climate change making zoonotic spillover events more likely (not to mention the risks of weaponized viruses). Covid-19 was our “starter pandemic,” as Ed Yong usefully dubbed it.

If greed-driven companies fail to exercise their powers responsibly, they should face competition from the public sector. President Biden let the cat out of the bag when he said that “capitalism without competition isn’t capitalism; it’s exploitation.” While many people applauded his sentiment, stop and think about the implication: The president was, in essence, saying that we expect corporations to exploit us if given half a chance.

We pay a huge price in blood and treasure when we give the need-greeders free rein to lie to and exploit the public with impunity. We must be clear-eyed about exactly when greed can help our collective interests and when it hinders them. During a crisis as dire as a global pandemic, greed won’t save us.

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  1. PlutoniumKun

    Even if you believe that greed and competition are necessary for innovation, there are other ways to achieve breakthroughs without permitting IP monopolies.

    As an obvious example, at the very beginning of the pandemic the government could simply have set out criteria for successful vaccines/treatments, and offered lump sum rewards for whatever companies (or individuals, or research groups) hit the targets. The ‘winning’ compounds could then have been released as open source for manufacturers to sell at an appropriate market price (or pre-agreed price). Variations on this principle was common during wars, and these have usually been the periods when technology has leapt forward fastest.

    1. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

      “Even if you believe that greed and competition are necessary for innovation, there are other ways to achieve breakthroughs without permitting IP monopolies. ”

      When bronze was invented, nobody had an IP lock on it. The planned globalism beginning in the late 80s was predicated on the idea that “You will own nothing an you will be happy”. The legal regime around airtight and perpetual IP was eased by the contrived music industry panic over people making casette copies of vinyl albums or plastic CDs. This has now extended to Monsanto and Pharma and now they want to own your DNA.
      Sounds nuts, right? The go along/get along post WW2 zeitgeist changed once the ‘Unipolar Moment’ arrived.

    2. Societal Illusions

      The sensibility you display in this potential solutiion is what leads me to have hope that there is a way out of all this – all the bright and creative thinkers who have the ability to construct a better world.

      It also solidifies my opinion that what we are experiencing in this and all human endeavors does not exist by accident. As there are so many smart and clever people in the world, I believe many are compelled to not see the big picture as they sense their security and maintaining achievements rests on not soing so. The recurring dyfunctjon we all witness as a result of the current construct can not be by accident.

  2. The Rev Kev

    Always good to see that your work has been appreciated publically. You know, it has been thirty -four years since that “Wall Street” Greed-is-Good speech and instead of taking it as a warning, two generations of MBAs have taken it onboard as a war speech. And so here we are. We have botched how we have dealt with this pandemic because of greed and I doubt that the Big Pharma will do any research on sterilizing vaccines for this virus when an annual one can be developed to produce a money stream for them. Well, those who can afford it, that is. Thing is, the virus does not play by those rules and will mutate again and again in all those neglected regions because greed will tell those companies to ignore such developments as it costs good money to monitor- (2:05 mins)

    In darker moods, I sometimes think that it is a good thing that this was never a Zombie virus as we would have botched that one as well through greed. And, as it turned out, that is how it plays out in the novel “World War Z.”

  3. gc54

    Here is some COVID testing “anecdata” (love that term!) My younger daughter (store manager) was exposed to now-fired (for incompetence) co-worker who refused to mask then tested positive last wk right after his dismissal. My daughter was informed yesterday pm of exposure and indeed has symptoms so called Duke Urgent Care (out of her network) for a test. Was told to triage by tele-visit and on that outcome was to be tested immediately so made appointment online; had to do this because she cannot open her store if infected and store is now short staffed. Went this am and no they don’t have a record of her appt “in the system” so had to sit in walkin clinic filled with wheezers until they could see her. After an hr was sent back and re-examined redundantly, probably to double-bill. Upshot, test was negative but now she’ll have to wait to see if infected by this visit. I had told her to wait outside on a lovely morning but Duke wouldn’t text her when to re-enter. My spouse called in justifiable Karen-mode to blast DUC facility manager that we didn’t expect this sort of incompetence from the pre-eminent provider in the area. “You really all must be in it for the billing, seem to think that this epidemic is a farce.” So it goes in “best in world” US medicine …

    1. Shonde

      Katniss Everdeen introduced me to a new word yesterday. iatrogenic. Fits your comment just as it fit mine.

      Thank you Katniss.

    2. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

      The PCR test wasn’t really designed for what it’s (unaccountably still) being used for. It can deliver false positives and negatives. But don’t say this on Twitter or you’re toast. Hopefully everyone turns out ok and stays employed. GL

    3. Procopius

      The U.S. has the best medical care in the world, but only for those who can afford it. Otherwise, we rank number 39. Probably lower than that, now.

  4. Prince Rebus

    If I remember correctly, Biden and the major vaccine manufacturers refused to consider temporarily waiving patent protections on the vaccines so that low-income nations could produce them; Biden changed his mind in May, long after the infection rate skyrocketed in India and the delta variant showed up. I am finding it difficult to tease apart the individual contributions of greed, namely intentionally letting the virus run loose in an unprotected population of over a billion people, and simple incompetence, but I favor the former.

    In weighing those two possibilities, I am left with the fact that the governments and companies that chose to protect IP over lives employ some of the smartest and hardest working epidemiologists and biologists in the world. It is not credible that many of them did not quickly come to the conclusion that a large increase in the global reservoir of replicating virus would not result in the development of new variants with the potential for increased infectivity and/or virulence, such as delta. That’s not conjecture, it’s basic science.

    Finally, cui bono? Let’s assume for argument’s sake that the great minds of the day were completely unaware of the consequences of allowing this virus to replicate in such a large population and consequently undergo rapid evolution. What is the outcome of delta? The recent outbreak in Provincetown shows the vaccines are non-sterilizing in the presence of circulating delta. I don’t know if that was the case with preceding viral types which had much lower viral loads in the infected, but it is worth worth considering the possibility that existing vaccines would have been sterilizing or at least have brought us to herd immunity at a lower prevalence of infection. Now we are stuck with the current situation: we have lost the chance to eradicate the virus and it will become endemic. That’s a great recurring business opportunity for Pfizer, Moderna et al.

    1. 1 Kings

      That’s called ‘covering all the bases’, or ‘covering your as..’, or getting as much cash, campaign or otherwise as you/they can get. Take care of the corps first, then belatedly ‘help” the peons, just like the recent eviction ‘re moratorium.
      ‘A recurring business opportunity’ indeed.

  5. David Mills

    That assumes that the MRNA vaccines are actually good. Per Dr’s Vanden Bossche (ex-GAVI) and Montagnier (Noble prize winning virologist who discovered AIDS), using a “leaky” vaccine (ie: non-sterilizing) in a pandemic is folly because it will cause the virus to adapt/select/mutate/evolve for escape.

    Also interesting is the campaign to discredit the Russian (Gamalaya Sputnik V) and Chinese (Sinovac) vaccines (disclosure: I took Sinovac because no mRNA). Both recognized by the WHO (FWIW) but not by US, UK, EU or their satraps (yet).

    The Biden administration seems to have forgotten (that’s not a stretch for Joe) about their promises to “negotiate” at the WTO for IP waivers.

    This, all combined, seems to feed into the revenue model for Pfizer, Moderna, AZ & J&J. Funny that.

    Makes me wonder how the developing world who have been denied access (except on the usurious terms of the pharma contracts) will / ought to react.

    Good times.

    1. m

      The nurses protesting France said a Sanofi vax coming soon of the old fashioned type, wonder if that is similar to Sputnik. Those Russian scientists were working on Mers for some time, I would prefer that one. If had to get any of these.

  6. bassmule

    Sums it up nicely: “Our government is failing in its duty to act in the public interest if it allows ‘your money or your life’ to pass as an acceptable business model.”

  7. LowellHighlander

    Jag Bhalla hits upon a key point that can expose the damage being done across the country in Economics departments at universities, controlled as they are (with only a few exceptions) by neo-classical economists. Here’s the relevant passage from the article:

    “It’s no secret that innovators (and people generally) often aren’t necessarily greed-driven. For instance, as Walter Isaacson notes in his book about superstar biochemist Jennifer Doudna’s work on Crispr gene manipulation technology, she was never motivated primarily by money.”

    The great Economist Thorstein Veblen made it abundantly clear – so clear that even most of today’s economists might understand – that there is more to motivators of economic agents than greed. In fact, people are motivated by four instincts. For our present purposes, the key instinct here is curiosity or “industry”. (I’m having to rely on scholarship I read years ago, so I invite academic economists practicing in the Institutionalist tradtion to correct me here.) This is seen clearly in the passage quoted above. And one huge implication is that people Jennifer Doudna would, almost certainly, have done her work no matter what social/economic system she found herself in.

    Thus, a key moral of this story is that students at university must be exposed to Institutionalism, and other paradigms of economics. Otherwise, too many people will fall for the lie that greed is what motivates everyone. It doesn’t; Veblen’s four instincts are far more powerful explanatory factors.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I believe innovators are not the only people with different motivations than economists preach. I have talked at length with several, what I regard as, genuine entrepreneurs. They all started some small venture. Some of those ventures succeeded beyond their dreams, and some others slowly fizzled. Every single one of the entrepreneurs I talked with started their concerns with a dream, a desire for self-agency, and a true love for the object of their business. The initial extent of their greed reached no further than a desire to succeed enough to enable them to continue in their enterprise and perhaps do a little better than when they worked as an employee. They were also builders of enterprise. Those who succeeded did so by carefully investing the extra they got back from their enterprise into growing their enterprise.

      I heard stories about failures from my Uncle, who handle small business loans for a small bank in the days when banks were more like the Savings in Loan in “It’s A Wonderful Life”. In cases of failure, common causes for failure were: pride — as in worrying about sizzle without the steak, like spending on unnecessary fancy offices and fixtures — or greed — as manifested in squeezing their employees, suppliers, or customers to enjoy more of the profits for themselves.

      I cannot regard MBA managers as entrepreneurs. They seem much closer to ruthless privateers.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        There are indeed business people with the following motivation . . .

        ” I’m in business for my health. I make money so I can stay in business for my health.”

  8. jsn

    Great and thorough article! But unactionable in The Republic of Cash.

    Our electeds will continue to do what they’re paid to do through the “campaign finance” system of institutionalized bribery for legislation. These lethal policies have been paid for and until someone pays more for something else, we’ll live and die by them.

    Popular organizing is the only way out I see, I can only hope what Mike Elk is tracking and everyone in media is ignoring will actually lead to change, but D Primaries in the last few cycles have me totally demoralized.

    1. Felix_47

      Jim Clyburn and the Black Congressional Caucus have been stalwart supporters of the current PAC, Super PAC and campaign finance system. Clyburn himself is the largest recipient of Pharma money in Congress. As they have written the issue is that they require these sorts of things because their constituents are poor and cannot donate to them and therefore Black candidates cannot have the kinds of things white candidates have in terms of benefits and patronage. And we should consider the reality is that the high costs of drugs are primarily borne by the US government and Medicare and not poor Black Americans. They largely receive health care at government expense. So high drug prices are a tax on the middle and upper classes that have to make a copay although often if the medication is expensive enough they can get drug company funded foundations to pay the copay so the drug company can get the big money from the government. The recent Alzheimer drug that does nothing but make money it seems is an example. It was heavily promoted to the BCC because Alzheimers, the lobbyists emphasized, is said to occur more frequently in Blacks. We probably will never learn how it got approved but if Congress wants something done it happens. I learned that much in 30 years of working for the government. The only problem now is that the campaign finance system that works so well for our legislators and industries in the US is now causing side effects outside of the US in the vaccine arena with many avoidable deaths. It has nothing to do with medicine or good and bad people. It has to do with the realities of our campaign finance system that forces our legislators to work hand in glove with the oligarchs for them both to profit and get reelected. So a workable compromise might be for the US government to pay rack US rate for the vaccines for the third world and send them there free.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        So, blackstortion. Or ” blaxtortion”, whichever spelling seems more compelling.

  9. Susan the other

    This essay on medical extortion dovetails with today’s Link critiquing the Quincy Institute’s hypocrisy. When it comes to meeting our obligations as the hegemon we are failing. We want all the rights and privileges of liberalism, including patent protection, but we are not willing to accept the viewpoint of others. It’s our Achilles’ heel at best. And democracy? It just becomes an endless squabble. We minimize social stability for the sake of profit every time both domestically and internationally. And we ignore the environment whenever it becomes too inconvenient. Even the US Military’s new idea (McMaster) for promoting “strategic competition” is so self contradicting (and delusional) now in a complex world that all strategic competition would promote is strategic conflict. Somebody needs to start a discussion on the blind perversions of our economic religion – freedom, equality and… profit for all. It ain’t workin’.

  10. Ping

    I am incensed at a recently received mailer from American Life Sciences Innovation Council (ALSIC) promoting Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema’s fight to block proposed bill allowing Medicare negotiation of drugs and importation of cheaper Canadian drugs stating:

    “radical progressives are pushing a drug-pricing proposal which will have a significant negative impact on all seniors and Medicare Part D participants. Importing socialized pricing poliicies will have devastating impact on innovation, new treatments and access to life saving drugs.”
    See linked image:

    I’m responding to contact info stating that I really want her to continue protecting exorbitant pharma price gouging because any time the word “socialized” is used, I become a totally gullible moron.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Radical progressives pushing this proposal? They sound like my kind of people!

      Senator Sinema? Eh, not so much.

  11. lincoln

    I think the primary advantage of mRNA (Moderna, Pfizer) and adenovirus (AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson) COVID vaccines is they can be developed and manufactured much faster than traditional vaccines. If drug companies persist in hoarding this technology, then maybe developing countries should also consider traditional vaccine development (attenuated/inactivated). It may initially take longer, but countries will then be able to manufacture whatever they need to efficiently vaccinate their populations.

    1. tegnost

      Computer programmers seem to adore the mRNA vax tech, “we’ll just do an update!”
      If only it were that simple…

  12. Tom Stone

    I have noticed that those who worship Mammon tend to live a miserable and lonely life unless they are full blown sociopaths.

    1. Mantid

      Yes Tom. I remember skimming a book about 5 years ago and the premise (can’t remember the exact title) was “I Can Make You A millionaire” – if you’re willing to screw all of your friends. The essence was that anyone can become rich if they are willing to screw everyone on the way up. Put “slick 50” in an engine before selling a car, “flip” houses and hide the dry rot, over sell software with no intention of it working, become a politician ……

  13. kirk seidenbecker

    Gordon Gekko would be so proud of our overlords –

    Shareholder value maximization theory must die.

    Pay intellectual property rent to the community which creates its value in the first place.

    Always fun to see NC get referenced…

  14. marku52

    Ties right in with the ferocious censorship of any mention of the use of the I word.

    Effective treatment means no Pharma Gold Mine

  15. Val

    I know of quite a few researches that have deep-sixed findings and interesting projects just to keep their brain candy out of the grasping hands of the corporate state, or to maintain larger, consistently funded but largely unproductive projects. Alzheimer’s comes to mind. It really does.

    If proceeding by curiosity, humility
    and humor, this is easier to do than one might imagine given the rather autistic nature of research funding and the reactive nature of profit centers. So the “progress” and “name in history book” schtick quickly wears thin, particularly while watching the profound multidimensional institutional incompetence around covid. Go back and read that December NEJM 95% vaccine paper. Technofix is more of sales than science. Mandatory silver bullets for everyone!

    Another dynamic is that curiosity-motivated pro-human science folk tend to generate more useful observations and hypotheses than the ego-motivated cohort, who can only be roused thru funding, status-seeking, ladder-climbing etc. but are always willing to claim an idea as their own. Of course human consciousness or lack thereof is much more complicated than current models allow.

    Fear not, many of these projects will make their way to a functioning state eventually, and many are already on their way.

  16. Jeremy Grimm

    I got a little heartburn reading this sentence from the post: “Patient advocates estimate that it would cost just $4 billion for the U.S. to set up a public-private operation capable of manufacturing enough mRNA vaccines to immunize the whole planet, with each shot costing $2.” How is it that even patient advocates are mouthing phrases like “public-private operation” in their advocacy? I suppose that should be read as shorthand for licensing and contracting with businesses to manufacture the vaccines. As I recall many of the basic patents for the mRNA technology were developed in government labs or University labs funded by generous Government support. The phrase public-private operation seems more fitting for arrangements like those the Government made with Moderna and Pfizer [I do not know about Johnson&Johnson]. Those arrangements, those public-private operations look more and more like racketeering operations between Government officials and management at Moderna and Pfizer.

  17. Dr R.k. Barkhi

    “From 1998 to 2016, Big Pharma spent nearly $3.5 billion on lobbying expenses — more than any other industry.

    In 2016 alone, it spent about $246 million. That’s more than the defense industries and corporate business lobbyists combined.” –,accessed 8.5.21

    “. Our government is failing in its duty to act in the public interest if it allows “your money or your life” to pass as an acceptable business model.”

    I dont think “failing” is even close to being an accurate description. When so-called elected representatives annually raise an already bloated and wasteful military budget and Biden asks for another $25 billion(!!!)* in military spending during the current health crisis it becomes obvious that Disregarding is closer to the truth. Actually,it’s more accurate to say that “our” government feels it has No Duty to act in the public interest as evidenced by its long history of acting Against our interests (and globally everyone else’s) with today’s health crisis being the most obvious and despicable example.

    *I read that this amount would house our homeless population(dont remember source). Let’s see, update our nuclear weapons or help our fellow Americans…..hmmm…..

  18. Gregory Shutzkin

    Next on the Onion News at 11:

    “Marxists Puzzled by Price-Fixing Monopolists, Demand They Indict Themselves!”

    And you wonder why I read this place?

    Satire may be dead but self-satire is clearly FLOURISHING!

  19. Fern

    Maybe China will come to the rescue. Their Covaxin adenovirus-vector vaccine looks promising.

  20. petal

    The licensing deals our lab has gotten have allowed us to keep our lab open, and our research to continue. We do the research, they do the development(or pay us or another small company to do it for a couple of years). Getting grants has gotten harder and harder, so the licensing money has made the difference. I wish we weren’t so dependent upon it, but NIH grants are tough to come by these days. The system is broken-well, for some. For others it is working just fine. I do think IP is being taken too far, though. It’s a greedy free for all now. The garbage going on during this pandemic is sickening, and yet has been enlightening. I hope it is opening some eyes to what pharma is doing and what their motivation is.
    I hadn’t heard of Pascal Soriot until yesterday, tbh. I was reading real estate news for Australia(Sydney area) and there was an article about him in it. Then when I read this NC article, it kind of came together. Heck of a view. I’m glad someone’s doing well. /s

    AstraZeneca chief Pascal Soriot lists Lavender Bay house amid Covid-19 lockdown

  21. c_heale

    The “need greed theory” is wrong. Patents hinder innovation and competition. I can give you an example. Probably one of the most innovative periods in Western popular music was in Jamaica in the 1970’s and 80’s which has had a massive influence on modern music. It led to rap music and dub among other things. The reason it was so innovative was because there were no copyrights so the musicians were constantly copying each other, and it was incredibly competitive because they were all fighting for the same audience. So they had to innovate to stay ahead. Repetition and just copying wasn’t an option.

  22. Eustachedesaintpierre

    Quite a few of my extended family are of the opinion that greed is good, as opposed to Adam Smith’s self interest – basically stupid little fishes believing that they are sharks rather than like the rest of us, potential juicy prey for the real thing.

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