Some more than usually damnably stupid things from this week's:
However, the genome remains a common heritage. Celera's activities do not stop other people using that public knowledge--and even packaging it for sale in other ways than those done by the firm. Genomes are not inventions and cannot be patented.
So, back in your box, silly little protestors, everything's fine. Except, of course, that companies like Celera are constantly pushing the boundaries of what can be patented, with the support of their cheerleaders like the Economist. It is simply not on to state things in such bald terms when the context is a hugely contentious area of law.
The question of third-world drugs is undeniably more vexed--but impugning the profit motive is a fatuously inadequate answer. If not for the lure of profit, the drugs that Oxfam wants sent to developing countries would not exist in the first place.
Since most of these drugs were in fact developed in charitable foundations and universities, and only later commercially exploited, this is not even true.
Now that the drugs have been developed, it is often argued, the cost of manufacture is, in most cases, much lower than the price charged. This is gouging, the indictment goes on: drug companies could make money even if they sold the drugs much more cheaply. Again, because of profit, the benefits of science are being withheld.
Nonsense. Developing drugs is expensive. If companies are to keep trying, they must expect to make enough profit to meet the cost of developing not only the drugs that work, but also the ones that do not.
A quick glance at the relative ratios of marketing expense to R&D expense in the published accounts of any large pharma company would soon disabuse the Economist of this line of argument, but a quick glance is a glance too many when their paymasters need support.
And so on, and so on. grrrr
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever