March 10, 2020
That’s what readers of this Politico piece on efforts to restrict patent monopoly pricing of a coronavirus vaccine as a quid pro quo for government funding must be wondering. One might think that if the taxpayers put up money for the research then they have already paid for it, and therefore no patent monopolies would be involved. The vaccine would sell as a cheap generic and drug companies would make profits from it in the same way that manufacturers of paper clips and plastic cups make profits.
But, that is far too simple for our Washington policy types. Even though the government puts up the research money, the government still has to grant the drug companies patent monopolies, and then beg them not to charge us too much money for the vaccines they developed with our money.
Too bad no one in Washington policy debates believes in the free market.