Roche's Patent on Tamiflu Should be Respected
By Yaron Brook (Concord Monitor, October 16, 2005)
As fears of an avian flu pandemic grow, demands that governments trample on the property rights of drug companies also grow. Many people want governments to violate the patent rights of Roche AG, licensed manufacturer of Tamiflu, so that other organizations can manufacture the drug.
These demands are immoral.
Instead of threatening Roche we should be praising it for having the foresight to license and manufacture Tamiflu in the first place, the drug which appears to be the most effective treatment for the current strand of avian flu. Governments that wish to stockpile Tamiflu should enter into contracts to purchase it. The surge in demand will lead Roche to manufacture as much of the drug as it profitably can and to license its patent to other manufacturers for a fee. The new demand will be swiftly met. That Roche will profit is only just.
We must remember that without Roche and Gilead (the inventor of the drug), Tamiflu would not exist. And without unyielding recognition of a creator's patent rights, research into the next anti-flu drug will be stifled. Government intervention has already made many avenues of drug research unprofitable--to the detriment of the health of each of us. The threat of an influenza pandemic is ongoing. We must not let governments destroy this vital area of research too.