Summary: Concepts such as patent monopolies and evergreening (loophole for extending the lifetime of a patent monopoly) explained by Masnick and Moody
In articles that are written mostly by Dr. Glyn Moody and are outside our standard scope of coverage (most of the time but not always) it is shown that medicine suffers from patents. Contrary to the propaganda about patents being essential for scientists to come up with cures, reality suggests that patents achieve the exact opposite or limit the reach of medicine once it’s available and is easy to produce in large quantities. Here are some recent articles of interest. They deserve increased attention, more attention than daily links would get.
One technique in the world of pharma that has started appearing here on Techdirt is “evergreening” — making small changes to a drug, often about to come off patent, in order to gain a new patent that extends its manufacturer’s control over it. The advantages for pharma companies are evident, but what about the public? What economic impact does evergreening have?
Remember how, just a month ago, the Supreme Court had struck down gene patents in the Myriad case? If you don’t recall, Myriad claimed, effectively, to have patented the isolated BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, which are indicators of a likelihood for developing breast cancer. As such, they blocked anyone else from doing tests to find those two genes, and charged a whopping $4,000 or so for anyone who wanted the test. The Supreme Court, thankfully, tossed out those claims, noting that Myriad “did not create or alter any of the genetic information” in those genes, and that if found valid, it would “give it the exclusive right to isolate an individual’s BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.” That’s obviously crazy, so it was good that the Supreme Court rejected those claims.
Evergreening is not unique to medicine. MPEG-LA does it and so do various other patent cartels, as we showed in previous years (we no longer have the capacity to cover as much as we did before). Maybe it’s time to legislate against this practice, for it is simply a loophole that subverts basic principles of patents. Think of how Hollywood always lobbies to indefinitely extend the duration/term of copyright monopoly. Similar trick. █