Dean Baker breaks down Remdesivir
Published by marco on
The article A Gilead-Remdesivir Fix: The Ten Percent Solution by Dean Baker (Beat the Press) points out that it is absolutely not difficult to fix the so-called problem with remdesivir. It’s a short article, so I’ll just cite it in full, highlighting the most salient bits for those who need a tl;dr for a four-paragraph article.
“The Washington Post had an excellent piece documenting how the government put up most of the money for developing remdesivir, a drug that now offers the hope of being the first effective treatment for the coronavirus. As the piece explains, in spite of the substantial contribution of public funds, Gilead Sciences holds a patent monopoly on remdesivir, which will allow it to charge whatever it wants without facing competition from other manufacturers.
“There is a simple and obvious solution to this problem. The government should simply take possession of the patent, putting it in the public domain so that anyone can manufacture the drug and also conduct further research, subject to the requirement that any subsequent developments are also in the public domain.
“To ensure that Gilead is fairly compensated, we can pay the company an amount that is 10 percent above any research costs it incurred that exceeded the government payments for development. Gilead would just have to submit its records, with the payment coming after they are fully audited.
“See, it’s simple, fun, and easy. We get the drug. Gilead gets a respectable profit, and remdesivir is cheap. Is everybody happy? (Emphasis added.)”
The problem seems to be that people cannot even conceive of the government revoking a patent—which it absolutely has the power to do. The government giveth and the government taketh away. How is it even currently a thing that the government spends all the money on research, then privatizes the profits from that research? Answer: corruption, graft, and the same people coming out on top, of course.
If you don’t accept that certain companies get absolutely free handouts from the government, life gets a lot better for a lot of people in a hurry.
A few days later, Baker published the short post Why Should Anyone Care About Paying Big Bucks for Vaccine Government Funded? by Dean Baker (Beat the Press), which put a finer point on the oligarchic and classist nature of the government funding of research for which it then grants private patents.
“[…] 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. (Emphasis added.)”