Medical Patents

Breffni Baggot Breffni at
Mon Nov 27 22:58:07 EST 1995

Yesterday, I read the post of a surgeon 
railing against medical patents. Having been so thoroughly schooled in medicine
he is to be praised for his ability to gather and store knowledge
given to him by others. He is to be praised for applying what others
have shown him. He has learned and been tested and solved problems, 
but he has obviously not created or he would not have so little respect for creativity.

I see some doctors suggest that one who invents 
something that cures people should not be allowed a patent but
instead should be forced to donate the creative idea 
to the other doctors for free.

So then are those who are creative to work for free? 
Who's decision is it that those that labor by creating must work for 
free whereas all others may be paid for their efforts? Who gave 
some doctors the right to decide whether doctors
who are creative should get paid?

Even if it were made law that creativity 
should not be rewarded, would that occur? Or would a doctor who learns
a new surgery charge extra because he is the only doctor in town who
knows how to do it? What does your good sense tell you is the answer to that question? 
And do you think that the surgeon will send some money back to the doctor who invented the new surgery as a concrete measure if his appreciation? 

Do those who argue against medical patents say that creativity is 
ok, but creativity that cures must be done for free? If that is true,
then do you think the pharmaceutical companies spend millions on R&D
allowing their scientists to labor for years only 
to hand the results over to the generic companies? Or do they get patents so that 
they will be rewarded for efforts? As far as this issue is concerned is there any difference between medicine and surgery? If not, then why are the anti-patent doctors silent about pharmaceutical patents?

The legislators who wrote a patent clause into the Constitution did so
because the voice of experience told them that people will not work
for free and they that can create will not do so for free. There is no
free lunch in this world. 

Yes, of course, there will be a sporadic few who offer their discoveries for nothing. Good for them. They are to be praised.  Some doctors say that this same ethic should be forced upon all
medical inventors. These doctors are declaring creation to be an inferior type of work. 

So, you anti-patent doctors vote for yourselves with your deeds. 
If you believe that:
A) creativity is no less inferior than other medical work and yet that creators should get nothing, 
B) begin to charge nothing for your services.

Those doctors who argue against patents nobly claim their reasons to be based on morality and charity. So let us now see less noblesse and more oblige.

Fuller truth is done if you know the author's background. I am a patent attorney. 

It is my experience as a patent attorney that those who create are full of zeal for all creative  endeavours including the use of patents. In one group of doctors, the creative seed grows and bears a new fruit with each new idea. 

Choose to invent and be creative! 

Whether medical patents are right or wrong has much to do with
whether you are creative and that is your choice. 
Creativity is not innate, but like a muscle that can be exercised. 
You can get in shape whenever you want.

Breffni Baggot

More information about the Bioforum mailing list