Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez…
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Ramirez Cartoon: Turning Your Back to Make a Point

Below is one of the latest cartoons from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez……[more]

July 08, 2021 • 11:36 AM

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“Suspend Intellectual Property Rights” for Pharmaceuticals? No, Strengthen Them Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, December 10 2020
It should be readily obvious to any fair observer that intellectual property (IP) rights are precisely what propel American pharmaceutical innovation, but leave it to the radical chic activist left to assert otherwise.

Would you drag yourself out of bed every morning and commute into work if your earnings were later subject to confiscation and redistribution, leaving you no assurance that your sacrifice and effort would be rightfully rewarded?  

Unless you possess a charitable streak wide enough to make Mother Teresa appear Ebenezer Scrooge by comparison, the answer is surely “no.”  

So why should we irrationally hold pharmaceutical innovators, who undertake great risk and expense to pursue novel treatments, to a different standard?  

That pointed question returns to the forefront of political discourse with news of not one, but multiple, coronavirus vaccines ready for distribution to vulnerable populations across the world.  Less than a single calendar year into this unforeseen and catastrophic worldwide pandemic, we’ve already got treatments on the way.  

Just this week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that Pfizer’s vaccine “met the prescribed success criteria,” showing “no specific safety concerns identified that would preclude issuance of” an official Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).  Accordingly, pending expert panel approval this week, the FDA could authorize the vaccine – which is already being administered in the United Kingdom and has demonstrated an astonishing 95% effectiveness – as soon as this weekend.  

That achievement arrives thanks to “Big Pharma.”  America’s system of market incentives and strong patent protections has once again vaulted us to world preeminence in developing lifesaving drugs with breakneck speed.  

Like clockwork, however, a left-wing chorus already takes those achievements for granted and demands suspension of the very patent rights that spur innovation as we’re now witnessing.  

Look no further than a piece published in The New York Times this week, bizarrely entitled “Want Vaccines Fast?  Suspend Intellectual Property Rights.”  

It should be readily obvious to any fair observer that intellectual property (IP) rights are precisely what propel American pharmaceutical innovation, but leave it to the radical chic activist left to assert otherwise.  

The basis of the Times commentary is a World Trade Organization (WTO) resolution brought by developing nations demanding compulsory waiver of pharmaceutical patent protections for coronavirus vaccines now entering production and application.  Preposterously, supporters of the WTO resolution claim that, “There are several reports about intellectual property rights hindering or potentially hindering timely provisioning of affordable medical products.”  The reality, however, is that without strong IP rights, those medical products would often not be developed or exist at all.  

That assault against pharmaceutical innovators is also ironic, because they already plan to offer their treatments to poorer nations around the globe – some 450 million doses to nearly 100 undeveloped nations.  They’re also offering to license their patent rights at abnormally low costs – and in some cases, free of charge – but understandably must ensure that their developments are reproduced safely and not simply stolen.  

More broadly, however, officials in America and across the world must bear in mind the negative signal that suspending patent rights for pharmaceutical innovators would have, and the long-term disincentives that would follow if pharmaceutical patent rights were weakened rather than protected.  Pharmaceutical innovation demands billions of dollars in sunk costs of investment, not to mention potential product liability lawsuits for any error.  To suddenly signal that those costs and risks won’t be sufficiently and fairly rewarded through ensuing patent protections would have catastrophic effects over both the short and long terms.  

People often complain about drug prices and other healthcare costs, and that’s a fair concern.  Would it be somehow preferable, however, if those new drugs about which people complain were never created at all due to lack of incentives?  Because that’s precisely why the nations supporting the WTO proposal don’t produce the lifesaving drugs that U.S. innovators constantly create, and that would be the reality if we opted for public policies that deprived those innovators and investors of the incentives to create drugs that save millions and even billions of lives.  

The commentary published in the Times in support of the WTO resolution claims that “intellectual property protections are currently hindering or potentially hindering timely provisioning of affordable medical products.”  In contrast, Abraham Lincoln once observed that America’s system of strong patent rights “added the fuel of interest to the fire of genius.”  

Forgive us for according greater value to Abe Lincoln’s wisdom than to virtue-signaling commentators in the Times, the kleptocrats at the United Nations or other global bureaucrats who do nothing to create but much to malign.  The very fact that America, with its legacy of strong patent rights, is producing the very innovations that they seek to appropriate, is all the proof we need.  

Quiz Question   
Who was the first American in space?
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Notable Quote   
 
"As Democrats race toward squandering another $4.1 trillion -- perhaps with some Republican help -- we are being told over and over how the biggest stumbling block is figuring out how the new spending will be 'paid for.'There are technically two different bills being negotiated. One is a $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill that includes a wide range of liberal priorities. And the other is an infrastructure…[more]
 
 
—Philip Klein, Editor of National Review Online
— Philip Klein, Editor of National Review Online
 
Liberty Poll   

With regard to U.S. lawmaking, which one of the following is currently, in reality, the most powerful individual in the country?