Those of us who campaign about the way our current Intellectual Property regimes are stifling innovation always hear one reflex response from politicians: “strong IP regimes are necessary because without them we would not have the miracle drugs on which modern medicine depends.” As with virtually everything else one hears from politicians on the subject of IP, this is an evidence-free proposition. Now an illuminating new book by the former Editor of the New England Journal of Medicine tells a different story. Here’s an excerpt from Aaron Schwartz’s succinct summary:
Our utopia of miracle pills is now beginning to look a bit like a nightmare. Drug companies use our tax money to pay for their research, turn around and sell the results to us at high prices, spend the resulting profits on massive campaigns to mislead us about their effects, which then encourage doctors to prescribe an expensive pill which may not help much and might even make things worse. Year after year, drug companies are by far the most successful industry. They use their stunning profits to buy off politicians and propagandize the public into maintaining this state of affairs. Only by learning the true state of affairs can we begin to fight back.