June 03, 2020
The New York Times ran a piece on the second round of government funding for the development of a coronavirus vaccine. The piece only mentions in passing the issue raised by some Democrats in Congress about the price of any vaccine that gets developed through this funding.
This is probably too simple for the NYT reporters and editors to understand, but the reason the government grants drug companies patent monopolies is to give them a way to recover their research costs. In this case, according to the piece, the government has already paid $2.2 billion for research. The article makes clear that the government will be putting up considerably more money.
This is a huge amount to pay for research. At no point does the piece give any indication of how much of their own money, if any, the companies are putting up. Fans of the free market might be saying that if the government is paying the money, why on earth should the drug companies then have a patent monopoly?
But, reporters don’t seem interested in asking questions like this when the beneficiaries of government handouts are rich people (generally white). They generally are far more concerned about a few hundred dollars that might improperly be paid out to someone on food stamps rather than the hundreds of billions that the government hands out every year with its patent and copyright monopolies.