The only direction I can see this moving in is the same one that balances out all the anti-social outputs of capitalism, and that is public accountability. There are three influences of note on corporations - financial incentive, legislative restriction, and public accountability. The first is far more of a problem than it is a potential solution. There are major, major limits to what can be achieved by the second. The third is the only credible way of restraining the behaviour that you oppose.I agree with most of this – clearly it is in both the company's and investor's best interests to keep maintaining the huge profit cycles that arise from the current Pharma development modes.
I also believed that the legal framework would not affect change on these giant corporations. This is exactly what I was referring to when I mentioned (a little off hand) that "these businesses have been around since forever in terms of the current legal and social frameworks we now move in."
With that I was trying to skirt was having to fully explain that these corporations have fully melded their business with the bodies governing them. Together, hand-in-hand almost, Pharma companies buddy up with the regulatory institutes to get their drugs to market, jumping through the necessary hoops and happily wearing the esculating costs.
Then, of course, they sidle up to the governments to get their, now hideously expensive, drugs into the hands of the patients. The cost model of the industry is not that of patient affordability, government subsidies are the only way that patients can be treated with all too many of the available drugs. And that changes the marketability of drugs, not only do you have to sell them to patients, you first have to ptich them to governments for susidies… It is a crazy cycle.
But I was wrong in thinking that there wouldn't be a legal trick avalable to take on Pharma CipP because, my good Wilberforce, it has already happened! This gives me heart that it can happen again under a different and hopefully even more widespread context. And what I'm referring isn't restriction—it's the opposite! I'm talking about Thailand's decision to break the patent protections afforded to some drug companies by invoking a WTO rule. I won't bother you with the details, because the point is simply: Yes, Governments and laws can help us out of this situation. I still feel a reservation about this as there is a a great deal of collusion between the governments and the big pharmas that will be very resistant to change, but the signs are good that things can change.
And the best thing about all this is that I'm not feeling as desperately hopless about it anymore. We as a drug taking society can change the industry. We can influence our governments. We have a precident that governments can influence big pharmas. It can be done, and I for one am still thinking about doing it.
For a good overview of Thailand's take-on approach to the Pharma insutry, click through to here.
In other sciency type news, they have found Kryptonite!