11/02/2005

Profit Promises

I don't know about you, but almost every 'concern' reported raises my suspicion a click. Hearing about the bird flu and the patent process of course made me wonder about the usual benefit-screwed relationships. When the capitalists tell Kucinich that forcing Roche to expidite patent sharing would cripple efforts in the future- we take pause and consider the role of government and its right or place in commerce. On the one hand we say that 'innovators" are motivated by market and profit and certainly the profit promise pushes technology and has no doubt led to life saving developments. Seizing their autonomy in times of crisis is wrong, even if it's to save lives, because ultimately companies will say "screw this" to making vaccines and put their energies into something the government can't meddle with. It seems that "slightly less' profitability is undesireable. If they can't have the whole pie, they will pack up? I wonder if the CEO's would scream "Then I'm not playing!!!"
Roche's 17-plus-percent posted earnings hardly make us weep for their shareholders. What people are asking for is that they relax their patent and help others develop vaccines to address the possible epidemic. They are surely going to make money, and if nothing changes, many will surely die. Is there a place to step in on this? Tough question. How does this play out on partisan lines? Reagan after all ended the Air Traffic Controllers strike for the public good, did he not? History shows precedent for interference. Is the determinant the answer to the question of "who profits"? When the answer is industry, we say step in. When the answer is "poor people" we scream FOUL at market interference.
They claim that nobody else can produce tamaflu anyway- it involves explosions. So granting permission to produce would result in little supply, they say. Pushing pharmaceuticals against the wall is often considered bad government, but probably more so in a prescription-happy culture. They might- after all -retaliate, and stop killing us with vioxx.
I would like to dig up more perspectives on this- and will post in comments.
"Suburban Guerrilla" offers quickpeaks into Rummy's stake in bird flu, and MORE

7 comments:

Lily said...

"Attention Deficit Nation" on the use of Europe's oil- I neglected to provide the link.

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