Dear Editor:I don't suppose it matters whether delivery on those contracts comes after the pandemic. Or maybe the idea is that governments the world over should do the opposite of what governments typically do in wartime and build factories for Roche. But that would mean using taxpayers' money to support one market player over others, which can't really by what the people at the Ayn Rand Institute have in mind.
As fears of an avian flu pandemic grow, demands that governments
trample on the property rights of drug companies also grow. Many
people want governments to violate the patent rights of Roche AG,
licensed manufacturer of Tamiflu, so that other organizations can
manufacture the drug.
These demands are immoral.
Instead of threatening Roche we should be praising it for having the
foresight to license and manufacture Tamiflu in the first place, the
drug which appears to be the most effective treatment for the current
strand of avian flu. Governments that wish to stockpile Tamiflu should
enter into contracts to purchase it. The surge in demand will lead
Roche to manufacture as much of the drug as it profitably can and to
license its patent to other manufacturers for a fee. The new demand
will be swiftly met. That Roche will profit is only just.
We must remember that without Roche and Gilead (the inventor of the
drug), Tamiflu would not exist. And without unyielding recognition of
a creator's patent rights, research into the next anti-flu drug will
be stifled. Government intervention has already made many avenues of
drug research unprofitable--to the detriment of the health of each of
us. The threat of an influenza pandemic is ongoing. We must not let
governments destroy this vital area of research too.
Dr. Yaron Brook
Executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute
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