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October 17, 2005

Dean Baker Just Complains And Complains And Complains

Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah:

The major obstacle to large-scale stockpiling is that the drug is under patent by Roche, the Swiss pharmaceutical company... [W]e are left with the prospect that millions of people in the United States could risk death because our government does not want to infringe on Roche’s patent monopoly...

The $220 billion question (current U.S. spending on prescription drugs) is where are the economists? Remember, economists are people that get high blood pressure from 10 percent tariffs on shoes or pants. When Bush put a temporary tariff on steel imports that maxed out at 30 percent, economists all over the country became apoplectic. So why is the economics profession overwhelmingly silent about drug patents, which are the equivalent of tariffs of 300 percent on average, and affect a product that is much more important to our economy and our health?...

Given the enormity of the stakes, you would think that there was a major debate within the economics profession about the best method of financing drug research. While there has been a limited amount of writing devoted to the topic, most economists are too busy dealing with tariffs on pants and other crucial items. Maybe mass deaths from a flu pandemic will help to reorient priorities in the profession.

If you are foolish enough to think the completely preventable deaths of millions would be a bad thing, you are allowed to read it all.

Posted at October 17, 2005 10:36 AM | TrackBack

I was foolish enough. And now, foolish me, I'm pissed.

Posted by: Jonathan Versen at October 17, 2005 11:59 AM

It's a question of priorities, isn't it? I think underpants tariffs are way out of line. But then I'm a Distinguished Munsingwear Fellow at Pepperdine University.

Posted by: Rotarian Sympathizer at October 17, 2005 12:22 PM

In general I agree with Dean Baker. Under current circumstances, information that has come to my attention states that 90% of the available crop of the basic raw material, star anise seed pods is ALREADY being used by Roche. Since this crop grows on a "small tree", getting more might take longer than just one growing season.

My source:

Posted by: mistah charley at October 18, 2005 02:33 PM

Well, the news here in Australia is reporting on a possible government plan to vaccinate our entire population within a few months, if the current human trials of a vaccine in Adelaide are successful.

Commonwealth Serum Laboratories has come up with a possible vaccine, courtesy of a prompt AUS$5 million grant from the Australian government.

Government working for the public interest, and all that.

Posted by: floopmeister at October 18, 2005 10:08 PM