Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Science and money

Thailand's decision to produce three patented drugs locally has caused one of the hottest arguments about intellectual rights. The pharmaceutical companies talk about their rights to earn a return to their investments in the discovery of the drugs and perhaps, arguably to an extent, the rights of their stakeholders to earn more dividends from the companies' share. While Thailand argues that the government needs to provide affordable drugs to its citizens.

There is only one common issues of those arguments, MONEY. Yes, all are about money. On one side, poor patients (regardless of what they do to contract AIDS or whatsoever), while on the other side, "relatively" poor (arguably) investors and scientists trying to earn more money. I see a vicious cycle of money and the "victims" here.

Science equipments are very expensive (I have experienced in buying some for my laboratories) indeed. However, the huge cost of drug discovery is in paying the scientists behind the discovery. I wonder what the true motive of the scientists in creating the drugs is. Is the motive to help people? Is the motive to somehow strike it rich because of the patents? And how does a scientist value himself when he/ she draws his pay? The key argument is the type of life that the scientist would like to have. Of course if the scientist is willing to live a life unlike Bill Gates and other millionaires/ billionaires, his pay should be relatively a mild point for the pharmaceutical company. Point One.

Arguably again, of course, is the valuation of a pharmaceutical company towards that scientist and its creation. Principle of economics indeed teaches the company to pay the lowest it can to the scientist so it can earn as much as possible. Now, if the pharmaceutical company pays the real value of the drugs by minimizing its profit, the cost of having the drugs would be lower. Point Two.

Another point, what drives an investor besides money and money and money? If investors start to support only the companies with high sense of responsibility to the community, instead of supporting their greed, perhaps more companies would contribute to the community. The cost of the drugs shall be lower since the need to maximize profits for the sake of the stakeholders is inexistent. Point Three.

A responsible human who values his life and steers away from vice, arguably, leads a healthier life and a lower chance to contract deadly disease like AIDS (an example since the case starts with AIDS drugs). Prevention always works better than cure. Reduction of demand eventually reduce the supply and perhaps zero demand may happen leading to zero supply. The choice is there. Point Four.

Therefore, in conclusion, if each human is to value his/ her life and live without greed, perhaps such case of drugs' IP fights can be minimized.

Each cent that you can reduce coming out from your greed will lead a long way.

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