Repost from the old site. In the comments section, James Schipper notes:
Drugs are not a natural monopoly, so why are pharmaceutical companies making such large profits? Answer: patents. Once a pharmaceutical company has a patent on a drug, it has a monopoly for several years. The reason for this patent system is that it is thought to encourage research and thereby allow consumers to gain access to new drugs.There is no doubt that a lot of new drugs are coming on the market, but whether the patent system ultimately has more advantages than disadvantages is hard to say. What is certain is that it keeps drug prices high and also encourages wasteful research for near-duplicates. If company A develops a new drug against, say, headaches and acquires a patent on it, then company B can’t compete directly against it by selling the same drug, so it will try to produce a drug that is very similar but different enough to circumvent company’s A patent.
In part it is patents, true. And it is true that the patent system encourages totally wasteful drugs that do nothing for consumers but fatten the wallets of corporate slimeballs. Once again we see that capitalism is great at making money, but often little else. In what sense is a costly waste of a drug good for the “productivity” or “growth” of the nation? It’s not. It’s wasteful. Again we see the inherent wastefulness and stupidity of capitalism. Europe and Canada have socialist health systems that negotiate low prices for drugs. The drug companies do it for the business, and they still make tons of money. Here in the US, the state thinks that drug companies have a right to superprofits at the expense of people. It’s corporations versus humans, and in the US, corporations win, and humans get screwed every time. There are now movements afoot to extend patents beyond their very long life. This will go on as long as the Corporate Enemy has legislators by the balls. One of their loony arguments is that they need super-profits in order to reinvest money in new drugs. However, the Corporate Enemy is denied super-profits in Europe, and they still come up with lots of new drugs. It’s apparently just a great big gigantic lie. This nonsense reached a crescendo when the US government forbade the re-importation of cheap drugs from Canada into the US so that US consumers could get better deals. Amazingly, there was no hue and cry from US consumers stuck with unpayable drug bills that are completely unnecessary, because the corporate media refused to show them how they were getting screwed. How many Americans so love the “market” that they would joyfully pay twice as much for drugs so fat cat drug companies could rake it in? I guess your average Libertarian is that insipid, but no way is your average American. US capitalism attacks the worker, consumer, society and the environment day in and day out without end. This is the magical “market.” It’s making all of our lives so much better every single day, they say. Really? It is? Why does it seem like it’s screwing us instead? You’re either for the corporations or for the humans. I’m for the humans. Down the corporations! Up the humans!