We don't get many new antibiotics in America despite there being a great need. The reason is simple; though 85% of American drug spending is for "generic" - it is off patent, so anyone can make it without doing any work - a lot of people want everything to be generic. And cheap. Big Pharma is hated.

There is nothing cheap about science, so companies who don't want to spend $1 billion and 10 years for a new antibiotic only to have some grandstanding populist in Congress declare that medicine should be free. Instead they will tackle more obscure drugs that are less likely to get attention.

An academic lawyer wants to make the lack of innovation even worse. What we need is a way so streamline regulations the way FDA did for COVID-19 vaccines. No more 18 months and a phalanx of lawyers just to change the color of a font on a label, like the bureaucratic creep that occurred during the apex of government obstructionism in 2015. Instead of common-sense modifications, so that Mylan could get a competitor for EpiPen and stop marketing terror for obscene profits or we could get more insulin, Professor Sean Tu, a former trial lawyer suing drug companies, says the whole patent system should be torn down.(1)

His complaint is the tired 'but they made money' stuff - ironically, he also makes money, as does his university. He doesn't like that drug companies have made $8 trillion this century and notes that once drugs go generic, the price drops. No kidding? When you allow in competitors who have no start-up costs they can sell it cheaper? Revolutionary, right?

Not really. 

He worries that companies will try to avoid being pirated before they can recoup their money by creating new patents, and that does happen - but again, the solution to that is to remove regulatory roadblocks that protect no patients and allow in competition easier, not remove patents. Then companies won't have to hire lawyers to protect themselves against lawyers like WVU hires. 

What we have is companies who have success in phase II trials looking for an exit, because bureaucracy keeps small companies out - only larger companies can afford to risk phase III. Getting rid of patents makes that worse.

He notes that Europe does not easily allow patent extensions but ignores the obvious in his test case - Europe did not invent Humira and never could have. They invent very little, they are shockingly behind the US when it comes to scientific discovery and rely on free-rider status to get American drugs cheap using laws that only work because America is an early adopter and allows the free market to be priced accordingly.

Remove one aspect of that and you remove it all. You cannot claim to be about patients while doing what you can to undermine the scientific process that helps patients.

High cost is the price of being number one. Early cell phones were high cost, so was the first CD burner. Now they are both basically free, without getting rid of patents. If you want to show leadership in science and technology and medicine, your citizens will pay more and get it first. Europe will pay less. What won't happen is turning the US into Europe and expecting that nothing about American science leadership will change. Even Congress understands that simple reality, and they were clueless enough to believe printing trillions of dollars would not increase inflation.


(1) Maybe copyright will be next, since his university, WVU, also got hundreds of thousands of dollars from NSF to build a "Science 2.0" despite us being readily found in USPTO and existing 4 years prior to that grant. If you want proof about how out of touch NSF is with the actual science community, they squandered hundreds of thousands of dollars on an academic to make a website that could never go up - and did not.