1. What drugs are considered beneficial for all?

2. How could US biotech companies stay cost competitive with India & China?

3. Who benefits from cheaper drugs? Who loses?

Hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested into the Chinese and Indian drug manufacturers. These new drug manufacturers have been successful in producing medicines and selling them at cheaper prices than if produced by companies that were given the right to produce the medicine. However, in fear of major losses, the original companies that produced the drugs have retaliated by attempting to deny the Chinese/Indian drug manufacturers the rights to produce the drugs. They have attempted to retaliate, because with a new company that sells their product for a cheaper price, they can and will lose revenue, and profits. Additionally, the researchers who have invested millions of dollars into the drugs won’t get their due. This will prompt them to stop researching medicine, because they get absolutely no capital benefit from their work if the Indian and Chinese companies manage to sell drugs to people for minimum prices. If the researchers stop their work, there will be no one to develop new drugs to counter potential diseases that could appear any time in the future. The debate is, then, about whether Indian and Chinese companies should be allowed to produce and sell copied drugs to the people who need the drugs and can’t afford drugs produced by the other companies, or whether to reserve the rights to produce the drugs to the original producers and ensure that researchers will still be motivated to research medicines for future.

The Stakeholders:

Poor patients

Rich patients

Pharmacies and Researchers

Governments

NGOs

Indian/Chinese drug manufacturers

The two outcomes both heavily differ in who loses and who wins. If the US biotech researchers and manufacturers keep their patents, they will be able to continue to gain their profits. However, Chinese and Indian manufacturers will be forced to shut down, because they do not have a research division from which to derive their own medicines, and their low profit approach will prevent them from being able to set up their own research divisions. As well, patients who can’t afford medicine from US biotech companies lose their only other source of medicine, and the diseases that they need the medicine for will kill many of them. If the Indian and Chinese manufacturers are allowed to produce their medicines, the poor patients will be able to afford medicine they might not have otherwise been able to afford. However, many US biotech companies and pharmacies will lose profits because of the emerging alternatives, with many being forced to shut down. Additionally, researchers will be discouraged from investing time and money in the development of new drugs, because the chances that they can recover their costs and then some will be slim, at best.

In a way, the choice comes down, not to whether who benefits the most, but who loses the least. To be able to consider the two solutions, one must consider the opportunity cost of both solutions, all the while disregarding the ethical implications of the choice. If the Chinese and Indian companies are allowed to produce and sell medicines, the opportunity cost is the possible profits from the US biotech producers, as well as research and development of new medicines to counter future diseases. If Chinese and Indian companies are not allowed, the opportunity cost is the potential work force that can be saved by the Chinese and Indian companies’ products.

Due to the implications of future diseases, it would be a better choice to allow US biotech companies to keep their patents, in order to be able to stay up to date with modern diseases, and be able to fight against them. If the researchers were to be lost, in the future, no company would be able to retaliate against the emergence of a new and deadly strain of diseases. In short, it would be better if some people died of cancer, than if a majority of the world died of a disease that it had no defense against.