Photo by Roger Starnes Sr on Unsplash
Your choice to waive the patents our pharmaceutical companies hold on vaccines against the coronavirus.
Yes, the world is in great need of the vaccines, but the fact that the US has developed them at great speed, owes much to the profit motive.
The fact that there were companies in place with layers and layers of expertise and knowhow to tackle the task of creating the vaccines at record speed, owes much to the profit motive.
That has to be respected because it is at the heart of the power to create.
Without those companies’ enormous outpouring of inventiveness and skills, our nation would not be protected as it is now against the ravages of the virus.
And our economy would not be on target to post a record GDP for this year.
There are ways to assist countries in need and we should do so.
But to say to the pharmaceutical companies that have invested as much as they did, that they will not be getting the anticipated reward for their efforts and the risks they took in producing the vaccine, is the wrong move.
As I understand it, trade secrets will be shared. All that work that went into creating the vaccines is then to be shared. Free.
Since we have been privileged to have the advantages we have, I agree that we ought to share them with the world. It makes sense.
But pay those who put the hard work into creating what is now granting all of us peace of mind.
Entice them to donate vaccines, if they have not done so, while also negotiating better rates for us to buy them and then turn around and give away to those in great need or at cost for those with greater means.
It is understandable that the World Health Organization and other world leaders had put pressure on you to choose as you did.
And it is understandable, that in the wake of the disastrous term of your predecessor, you are eager to rebuild our standing in the world.
But your action undercuts a crucial drive for excellence in our system.
You have proposed a very large spending bill to address all manner of ills long overdue for appropriate action.
The bill is large because everyone has to get paid.
And so do the pharmaceutical companies that went all out to get us what we now hold so dear.
Effort has to be rewarded.
You could have appealed to the companies’ good will and let them be a partner in the spreading of our nation’s good will.
You have made a bad decision.
But perhaps, it is not too late to reverse course.