IRVINE, CA--Many claim that the need to relieve human suffering gives the government the right to violate drug companies' property rights. "This is immoral and so impractical," said Dr. Onkar Ghate, a resident fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute. "It will only increase human suffering."
"Morally, it takes enormous thought, effort and risk-taking to produce a new drug. By virtue of this work, a pharmaceutical company acquires a moral right to its drugs. If the government takes away a company's ability to control and benefit from its inventions, the people in the company, in effect, become slaves forced to serve those who need its products. But need does not give anyone a right to make slaves of others."
"Practically," Dr. Ghate explained, "turning drug companies into slaves will destroy the industry. On average, it takes $500 million and 12 to 15 years to bring a new drug to market. Price controls and/or patent infringement will make such research and development no longer profitable--and the invention of new drugs will cease. What then will happen to us when we're stricken with cancer but cannot buy the drugs that would have been invented had drug companies been free to earn the profits necessary to fuel their vast research programs?"
"If we want a future in which today's vast potential for medical breakthroughs becomes tomorrow's reality, we should be eager to respect the property rights of the creators of that future--and to pay them what they ask for their achievements."
ARI senior fellow Onkar Ghate is available for interviews on this topic.