Against Monopoly

defending the right to innovate

Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.

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Do let me know if I'm misinformed, but I understood that a patent on an improvement didn't constitute an extension of the patent on the underlying invention, merely a patent on the improvement.

So, when the patent on drug A expires, anyone can make drug A or A*, irrespective of whether someone has the patent on drug A'.

Or is practice vastly different from theory, that the mere existence of a patent on A' indicates a future in court demonstrating that A* is not, as it may appear, A'?


You are correct. When the patent on drug A' expires, anyone can make drug A'. In fact, even though the Indian court rejected Novartis' application, an "improved" version of drug A', let us call it drug A", could separately be patented, if it is sufficiently different from A'.

Michele completely missed the point of what drug companies do. Their actual strategy is to file a new patent application on the "improved" drug, and - here is the nefarious part - they tell everyone, through intense sales pitches, that drug A' is not really all that good and A" is better, so they should be using A". Of course, you have to wonder why a drug company would promote A' for a decade or a decade and a half and suddenly it is "no good," but that is another question.

So, doctors, swayed by freebies and often not having the resources to investigate new drugs, just accepts what the drug companies say and start prescribing A", even though A' works just as well, and maybe is completely effective, for most people.

Of course, A' will be available as a generic, so it pays to push your friendly neighborhood doctor for a generic that might fit the bill rather than latest snake oil. Sometimes you may have to push really hard because some doctors are seriously in bed with drug companies.

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