Arnold Kling

Drug Patents and Poor Countries

Arnold Kling, Great Questions of Economics
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John E. Calfee does not think that poor countries are well served by a regime that breaks drug patents and enables them to obtain generic drugs at the cost of production.

Today, hundreds of biotech firms, many of them in India and other developing nations, are taking financial risks trying to solve difficult problems. But they are aiming at the U.S. market, not their own. They know that if they find, say, a malaria vaccine, the new WTO rules will be used to declare a national health emergency and invite generic manufacturers to steal all possible profits.

Discussion Question. Why is it more natural to want to think of drug research as communal property than to recognize the value of incentives in encouraging drug research?

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