24 April 2007


Following on from my last CIpP related post, Morgue comments:

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!

19 April 2007

Things I've seen today

Having a day off to sort UK essentials like NI numbers etc. (these things take time in the UK!) and have seen a couple of things that I feel obliged to share with you.

It started with Fahrenheit 911, I'm watching this in dribs and drabs at the moment, and whenever I load it up I always like to hear George W. say "If I hit every shot good, people would say I wasn't working!" which doesn't mean shit, but amuses the heck out of me for some reason.

Surfing the Internet a bit later, I'm directed to The Last Great Snail Chase, which I'm totally hanging out to experience more of.  It is great to see folk you know go and and achieve things they are dedicated to and I can't wait to see the final product.  Bring it out on DVD asap Ed! (thanks to ~m for the linky)

The next thing was a follow up note on the communal main door to the building our flat is in.  The first followed a burglary in another flat, where a drifter had gained entry to the building and had posed as a resident and subsequently been let into a flat.  He then bolted with a bunch of stuff from the flat.  Kind of a ballsy robbery really and goes to show that you shouldn't open your door round here to just anybody - a debate which I'd only recently.  I'm all for thinking that this is a pretty safe area - delusional really.  But fuck it, I'm not gonna get scared and paranoid about it just yet. 

Anyway post the robbery there was a note taped to the door bemoaning the fact that the drifter had been let in to the building and had the tone of "I know what you look like..." and I'm gonna get you!  Well sort of.

And - then today, off on my way to work I saw another note along the lines of:

"To the bastard who signed for the courier parcel as me, I hope the cellphone is defective and when you use it it blows off your head you treacherous cunt!"

I've no idea if it was written by the same 'victim' but I immediately assumed it was and, quite out of character, I found myself laughing my arse off at the whole situation.  I don't normally go for laughing at other people's misfortune, but man that note made my day as I headed off to enjoy the UK bureaucratic process.

I've a feeling 'Ron the Body' is a little to blame, that particular four letter word is bandied about almost as often as 'the' and I need very little encouragement to turn my talk to the gutter!  But it is mostly my fault, in fact I've been caught out twice recently absently saying the c word in the company of people who appeared quite shocked to have to listen to it...  It's only a word right?  Hmmmn.  Anyway, that note's sign off did make me laugh!

And the walk to the NI office had two other notable sights.  The first was one of those yellow boards outlining some unsolved crime and appealing for information.  This time the robbery of a moped at 4.30pm on the 6th of April.  I hate to imagine the circumstances of the robbery, those yellow boards are NEVER used when 'no one got hurt' type robberies go unsolved round here...  Cue bad feelings for earlier laughing at people's misfortune, and more work to make me delusional that this area is 'safe'!

To top it off, just past the Geffrey Museum, I see an ambulance parked up and a fairly worried looking paramedic deciding which type of stretcher to use.  I walk past with DJ Shadow playing in my ears and see into a steep staircase in the doorway leading to an upstairs flat, and at the bottom, another worried looking paramedic tending and to a sprawled very plainly broken male figure.  I notice a worried looking man in suit talking on his cell phone with bloodied hands.  A flatmate?  I'm not sure, but like the most of London passing by this scene, it is none of my problem and it's apparently under control and I walk past.

And NI number, and not too much bureaucracy.  Though I'm tested to sign my name like the one on my passport a signature I produced 7 years ago.  Unsurprisingly, given my lack-o-handwriting, I fail and now I hope that I won't be DENIED on the NI number front.

And I walk back home with the sun shining and I go past the stairwell again.  The ambulance and broken man are gone, it is now cordoned off with police tape, and there is a cop taking notes from some folk.  The music is till in my ears and I'm not compelled to stop or enquire.  But I can't help noticing the white blood stained sheets at the foot of the stairs and I wonder what the yellow board will say.

11 April 2007

Now I see!

A ways back, last month in fact, I was having a quiet night at home and posted three things which I instantly dismissed as a succession of home-alone-blog-fillers, you know the kind that you say stuff in a sort of mock stream of consciousness just to get something on your blog.  For some reason I didn't delete them. I guess I need much blog filling!

I've been feeling nothing for sidonia for a long while and this has been compounded by my instantaneous negativity towards the last three posts.  In fact till about a week ago I'd not checked back... And when I did there was a comment.  And that made me feel better about it.  And I read the comment, and then (because I couldn't remember what I'd written) I had to read the post it referred to!  And (yes this is a large succession of ands...) I've got a point.  I've got a fucking point!

It is this...

* breathes in long and hard *

Capitalism - works by exploiting an advantage.
Intellectual Property - is all about protecting an advantage.
Protectionism - is any method by which IP remains protected.
Profiteering - works best when you combine the above (lets call it CIpP) and then milk it for all it's worth.

For the record I believe this equation:
CIpP = Very Bad!

I work in the drug business - the legal drug business. And I can say that despite the publicity they would have you believe, large pharma companies are profiteers plain as day.  Everything they do - and remember that most of these businesses have been around since forever in terms of the current legal and social frameworks we now move in - is profiteering.  (I know I should back this up but I'm just going to continue).

Don't get me wrong, drug companies are probably the only places where we will actively see commercialised advances in treatments for important diseases like HIV/AIDS.  Yay, warm fuzzies for retrovirals etc.; shame about the fact that these and other tools are not freely available for a highly mobile and task oriented health force to go out armed with them and eradicate the bloody disease.  

But that is not how the pharma companies work.  They are good, nay great, at a) creating HUGE cash flow b) spending that HUGE amount of money c) protecting what and how they do EVERYTHING to do with that money, so that the end result d) continues a)... (and so on).

What they are not good at is looking at a problem and solving it once and for all.  They find remedies not solutions.  Remedy, like purity, can be a BAD word.

And that is why I'm upset with what I do.  I really like the technical challenges of contributing to projects that outwardly appear to do a great amount of good.  I'll probably look back and think that some of my work has actively helped some people,


and it is a big but, it will have also helped to contributed to a big pharma's continuation.  

Ultimately what I do supports this company's CIpP (and you know how I feel about that!).

So my question to you, and the one I'm currently challenged with day in and day out while working here, is how do I resolve this conflict without leaving?  

I mean I know there are still opportunities for drug development outside of the big pharma framework to get a drug candidate into circulation and help people - but even 'independent' candidates will face a hurdle where they MUST sell that idea to get it out into the world.  And you know why?  Because all the investment, the regulations and technology required to develop, make and market drugs is the pharma's best ally in remaining successful.  No one else has the footing necessary to do all that except big pharmas, so you either join them, or you turn yourself into one—the ultimate sell-out!  And lo and behold pharma profiteering is maintained.  

There is little I feel I can do to prevent any of the big pharmas continuation - in fact I'm so disheartened about it I can't even see a theoretical approach that would even get close.

I saw 'Amazing Grace' the other day and despite the fact that I've little to say about this overly Hollywood (and outright dumb in parts) movie is that it was relevant illustrating for me how good ideas stumble against profiteering.  Unfortunately I can't ever see a clever trick that could be used to peg pharma CIpP back and I also don't envision turning myself into a crusading Wilberforce type character.  I could do with some laudanum though…

So what to do?  Any suggestions?