The NYT had an interesting piece discussing the National Institutes of Health collaboration with private companies in the development of new cancer drugs. As the piece points out, this collaboration has proven very profitable for the drug companies, but leads to drugs that are very expensive because the drug companies are allowed to have patent monopolies, with no restriction on the price they charge.

It also suggests an alternative path. It shows, contrary to conventional wisdom in right-wing circles, everything the government funds is not worthless garbage. If the tables were turned, and all the funding came from the government (rather than relying on government-imposed patent monopolies), then the new drugs could be sold at generic prices since everyone already would have been paid for their research.

In many cases, the generic price would be less than one percent of the patent protected price. New cancer drugs that might sell for $100,000 for a year's treatment, might sell for hundreds of dollars. Policy types who don't work for the pharmaceutical industry should be looking into more efficient alternatives for financing drug research.

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