Was Jonas Salk an Idiot for Not Patenting His Polio Vaccine

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by guzhogi, Jul 29, 2012.

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Was Jonas Salk an idiot for not patenting his polio vaccine?

  1. Yes! Survival of the fittest, baby!

    4 vote(s)
    11.8%
  2. No, helping people is more important than making as much money as possible.

    30 vote(s)
    88.2%
  1. guzhogi macrumors 68030

    guzhogi

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    #1
    When Jonas Salk created his vaccine for polio, he didn't patent it as he wanted everyone to have access to it. If he had patented it, he could have gotten millions, if not billions of dollars. In your opinion, was this a mistake? Would you rather help a bunch of people prevent a horrible disease or make boatloads of money off it and help only the people who could afford it?

    Note for the poll: I mean it in a tongue in cheek manner
     
  2. citizenzen macrumors 65816

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    #2
    Can there be a middle ground?

    IMO, the inventor of a cure should be able to be rewarded for their work and the drug should available to the widest audience possible.
     
  3. guzhogi thread starter macrumors 68030

    guzhogi

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    #3
    Yes, I feel the same way. However, I find many of the people on these boards think (or at least take actions) in black or white; very little middle ground is actually taken.
     
  4. Daffodil macrumors 6502

    Daffodil

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    #4
    How do you envision this happening? I mean, how should the reward come about? Government stipend of some sort in recognition of achievement? Patent combined with low-cost pricing? I don't disagree with you that there should be a middle ground, just wondering about the mechanics of how you'd achieve it... :)

    And to the OP, would you say that the vaccine situation is unique since it's effectiveness relies on as wide a distribution as possible, or are you applying the argument/question to all "useful" inventions? (whatever those are)
     
  5. Carlanga macrumors 604

    Carlanga

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    #5
    Those were the days that people invented things for the knowledge and not money.

    Someone got paid $250K from Lilly in 1955 to broadcast the results though; he probably got a piece of that? either way celebrity status doctor on staff wherever they are working get paid way better than others and more funding from programs.

    I guess if he wanted, he could have patented it in the US and other 1st world countries and left it un-patented in the other countries that needed it even more and make a ton of cash.
     
  6. Fazzy macrumors 6502

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    #6
    What he did would have been reward worthy even if he had made a profit; doing it for free elevates it to a whole new level.
     
  7. citizenzen macrumors 65816

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    #7
    I imagine it would be in the form of some sort of royalty. For every dose produced, the inventor receives X amount. That amount should be adjusted according to the specificity of the drug and the number of people likely to be administered it.

    But you really shouldn't ask me. I'm just suggesting that a rational middle ground exists. I'm am not qualified to explain the details of how one gets there.
     
  8. AhmedFaisal Guest

    #8
    You ask the wrong question. Would Jonas Salk be able to invent and market a Polio Vaccine without major clinical trials and significant funds from investors (thus requiring a patent). The answer is no. It's a very different environment today then it was in Jonas Salk's day.
     
  9. NT1440 macrumors G4

    NT1440

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    #9
    Take a look into Ben Franklin's views on patents....
     
  10. localoid macrumors 68020

    localoid

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    #10
    Which seems to beg the question: Was Ben Franklin an idiot for not patenting the Franklin stove?
     
  11. AhmedFaisal Guest

    #11
    What is the purpose of patents? If you can answer the question, and I mean really answer it and not just say "they have no purpose", then you understand what's wrong with patent law and what needs fixing. Oh and btw. everyone hates patents but those last only 20 years, the ********** Mickey Mouse has 100+ years protection on it.......
     
  12. citizenzen macrumors 65816

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    #12
    Just off the top of my head, I believe patents provide a person/company a head start in offering a unique product, thus theoretically giving them the opportunity to make money from their creation before competition swoops in.
     
  13. .Andy macrumors 68030

    .Andy

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    #13
    I always thought it would be great if researchers who came up with a cure like the polio vaccine patented it and deemed that all profits from it be reinvested in public health care and health research.
     
  14. iStudentUK macrumors 65816

    iStudentUK

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    #14
    I don't hate patents. I think they are important as they provide a window of opportunity for an inventor (whether of natural or legal personality) to make the most of their work, and recoup the costs of development. Now I'm not saying the system is perfect in every way- but I certainly would not put myself in the "hate patents" camp (plus it would be hypocritical given my chosen profession!).

    What is the Mickey Mouse patent that lasts 100 years? I'm as familiar with US law as UK- what aspect have they patented? If you mean copyright/trademark then that is completely different.
     
  15. Renzatic Suspended

    Renzatic

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    #15
    He means copyrights and trademarks. Disney has done some boneheaded things due to the ridiculous extension to copyrights and trademarks over the years. The most recent one being suing a small (I believe) Canadian town for putting up a statue of Winnie the Pooh, despite the fact that Disney didn't invent the character, and the original author has been dead for well over half a century.
     
  16. iStudentUK macrumors 65816

    iStudentUK

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    #16
    Ok thanks, that makes more sense!

    Even so there is still a big difference between copyright and trademarks. Copyright rightly should have a set expiry date, and sometimes I think it is too long. Trademarks should be indeterminate though- they should exist for as long as the holder keeps up the requirements to maintain it.
     
  17. Renzatic Suspended

    Renzatic

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    #17
    Yup. I agree. If it were set up that way, anyone could use the character Winnie the Pooh in their own stories and movies, but Disney's art and design for the character would still be theirs to own.
     
  18. AhmedFaisal, Aug 1, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 1, 2012

    AhmedFaisal Guest

    #18
    The only way to get rid of pharma patents would require a total overhaul of the healthcare system because of the costs and risks associated with their development. Because let's say we socialize the costs of drug development by making the government run and pay for Phase I-III trials and then generics companies take it over and make the drugs for cheap, with no patents there is no licensing fees and thus no revenue for the feds to recoup the costs. So there has to be a benefit associated with it, with a private health insurance system that benefit is low because the government would bleed money to a for profit industry that has no interest in keeping costs low because it would force them to drop their rates. So you would have to get rid of the insurance companies as well and put everyone on medicare. Now, I like that idea but that sounds very much like "socialism" if I put my RepubliCon hat on.

    I am all for patent reform but it has to be done the right way. My take would be to extend the substance patent life to 30 years to extend the period where a drug can generate ROI. On the flipside I would either get rid of formulation/production patents altogether or severely regulate them the way we try to regulate so called standard relevant patents in telecommunications ( I am saying "try" because we are still doing a shoddy job with it).

    We also need to look at patent life in general. To me life of a patent should be associated with the monetary risk associated with bringing the patented product to market. High risk should equal long patent life, low risk (i.e. software code patents) should equal shorter patent life.

    Another topic is the matter of patent trolls. Again this is where regulators come in. There should be no reward for companies (basically law firms of the worst kind) that have no interest in marketing a product for which the patent they own is relevant but only exist to make themselves a nuisance to those that do bring innovation to the market. Clearly original innovators that simply lack the capacity to develop a product need to have a way to sell their innovation to a company that does for a fair price that reflects the potential of the innovation but patent trolling needs to be stamped out.

    Finally for drugs we need to have a better, much more transparent system of deciding what drugs get reimbursed and what drugs do not (and yes, your health insurers already do that, I know that goes against the grain but it's true). We need to have an agency such as NICE albeit with much more transparent and public evaluation criteria that look at value added on a whole list of criteria beyond basic efficacy such as durability, delivery, side effect profile, QoL improvement etc.. This would allow drug companies to cull mediocre candidates from their development pipeline much earlier and keep R&D and drug costs.
    We also need a priority list of which diseases are considered more important than others to drive innovation in the right direction. We do not need yet another generation of drugs to treat lifestyle diseases, those should be handled much more aggressively through prevention.
     
  19. NickZac macrumors 68000

    NickZac

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    #19
    No, because he never had any desire to make money off of it in the first place. His ultimate goal was global eradication, nothing more and nothing less. And if he lived another 10 years with good health, I do believe AIDs would be half way through global eradication as well.
     

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