Talk to the Invisible Hand

  • by: |
  • 10/14/2005

Having just returned from Geneva, all I can say is that, as far as health care policy is concerned, it’s HQ for EuroDisney. During my brief sojourn in the city of chocolate, private banks, fine watch movements and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan dropped in for a surprise visit at the World Health Organization. While at WHO he said that the UN would be “encouraging pharmaceutical companies and others to be helpful, making sure that we do not allow intellectual property to get in the way of access of the poor to medication.” Since there is unanimous global agreement that every corner of the globe deserves access to avian flu vaccine, what about a statement from the UN chief reminding the world that it is precisely because of IP protection that we have a treatment at all? It’s truly frightening that the SecGen, his fellow travelers at WHO and the other bureaucratic ticket-takers at acronym-laden EuroDisney/Geneva are willing to not only condone attacks on IP as the great divide of the 21st century, but to promote a siphoning off of the fuel that drives the engine of pharmaceutical innovation for a few column inches. It is short-term thinking of the most dangerous kind — the kind with consequences. Perhaps it’s time for Kofi Annan to take a refresher Econ101 course. Perhaps it’s time that he talks to the invisible hand.


Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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