Letter to the Editor of The Wall Street Journal

Activist groups celebrated when pharmaceutical companies settled a lawsuit last week against a South African law allowing the country to make and buy cheap copies of patented AIDS drugs, as reported in the Journal last week. The South African government won its case on principle, and in the process undermined the very reason that drugs even exist.

One of the most important advantages that the U.S. provides to research industries is strong patent protection. If the pharmaceutical industry loses both its incentive and resources to make the huge investment in research, the citizens of this nation and the world will be worse off.

The research-based pharmaceutical industry relies on intellectual property protection to guard its investment of up to $600 million to develop a single new drug. When the companies cannot protect their patents, fewer of the new miracle drugs that the world both wants and needs will be created.

People who die and suffer from diseases that do not yet have a cure should be chilled by these events. The supply of today’s drugs may become less expensive, but the miracle medicines of tomorrow may never appear, and we will not know the cures, lives, and potential we have lost.

Grace-Marie Arnett
Galen Institute

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