Drug prices are too high. Americans spend an average of about $1000 per year on prescription drugs. And some prescription drugs cost thousands of dollars a month. There are some good reasons for this. It’s costly to develop effective drugs and get them through the FDA approval process. Many more pharma R&D projects fail than succeed, and pharma companies need the profits from successful drugs to support R&D in developing new drugs. But prescription drugs are, no doubt, a significant driver of high healthcare costs.
People have offered a variety of proposals to address this problem, many of which involve a measure of top-down price control. Price-control-based solutions are far from ideal. Most importantly, they quash the incentive to innovate by lowering pharma companies’ profits. Simplifying the FDA approval process is a better way to help reduce drug prices, but more is required—patent reform, specifically.
Patent rights are important property rights. The Founders understood this and provided Congress the power in Article I of the Constitution to grant patent rights to promote innovation. Patents provide an incentive to innovate by giving the inventor the opportunity to profit from his invention while excluding others from practicing it.
Patent rights play a critical role in pharma, among other industries, because they protect truly innovative new drugs and provide incentives to develop them. But they also stifle competition by granting a right to exclude others from marketing competing drugs and stifle innovation by granting a right to exclude others from using the invention to develop other, related drug products. In addition, pharma patents often don’t cover new drugs or truly new uses for those drugs. Instead they cover minor, obvious improvements to or variations on old drugs that have been on the market for decades. So, branded companies have an incentive to use their profits on R&D for these product-line extensions rather than on new drug therapies.
Simply put, pharma patents keep the cost of medications high. More competition is needed, primarily in the form of generic drugs, which are as safe and effective as branded drugs and compete directly with branded drugs, driving down drug prices.
So, how do we promote both innovation and competition at the same time? By reforming patent laws so it’s easier to invalidate patents. Right now, pharma patents are relatively easy to get and relatively hard to invalidate or design around. In the patent office, it’s just the inventor and a patent examiner having a back and forth about whether the invention is patentable. The patent examiner is, in theory, supposed to be pushing back on the inventor to make sure there’s really an invention. But patent examiners have huge case loads and have to rely quite a bit on the inventor being forthright about what has and hasn’t been done before.
Once the patent is granted, it’s up to competitors like generic drug companies to try to get around the patents in court. The burden is high—too high. Patents exit the patent office with a presumption of validity, and patent challengers face a higher burden of proof than just the “preponderance of the evidence” standard in ordinary civil cases.
The system of granting and reviewing patents needs to change. The standards to get patents should be higher, and the standards to invalidate patents should be lower. Both of these can be accomplished through changes to the Patent Act, for example, by eliminating the higher standard of proof in patent cases, by requiring the support to obtain a patent to be stronger, by loosening up restrictions on what can be used to show that an invention is really just an obvious variant of what was known, and by enabling a more adversarial process in the patent office before a patent is granted. These changes would enable generic drug companies to bring more competition to the market by lowering the most significant barrier to entry, and thereby bring down the cost of prescription drugs in a market-friendly way.
The Misfits banter a lot. It’s what we do. I won’t lift the veil on the behind-the-scenes stuff too much, but there is an enormous amount of back and forth on a wide variety of issues, only a small portion of which makes its way to the website. Quite a bit leaks out on Twitter, but a lot of it stays private.
Those discussions tend to be political or at least “current events” themed. It’s not the most diverse ideological grouping that one could possible establish (I’m pretty sure that I qualify as the liberal, just by virtue of living in Boston and not owning a gun), but there is probably a lot more disagreement than you might think. There was hearty primary debate over candidates (note: the lone Trumpkin threw a tantrum, stormed off and has now gone totally off the rails), there remains debate over how #NeverTrump or #NeverHillary (or both!) we are, and there is always, always, always quite a bit of back and forth over non-candidate issues.
Don’t ask Rex about suspect-killing police robots…CUZ HE’S WRONG!!! (That’s a joke, everyone)
But, a funny thing has happened over the last couple of weeks. We have been absorbed in some intense, layered and very heated discussion on some very NON-political topics. In fact, you may even go so far as to call them somewhat inane. For example:
Lost in the fun of this nonsense is, what I think, a serious underlying problem: none of us really want to talk about politics. It’s simply too depressing. Here we are, the richest, most advanced society in the history of the world, and out of 350 million people, we have decided that our leader will be either a Cheeto-hued buffoon or a decrepit rape-apologist.
Come November, we are going to elect an aged, uninspired, crooked hack with a lifetime of high-profile, undistinguished public service and despicable personal behavior. She’s got a stale and dated worldview, a seventh-grader's grasp of economics and precious few principles to which she has held firm throughout her political career. And that is the first logical thing that voters have done this year!!! Her opponent, of course, is a morally (and often financially) bankrupt narcissistic mythomaniac with a seventh-grader's grasp of, well, pretty much everything (other than, of course, tapping into the larger-than-assumed vein of rank bigotry flowing through the working class).
Talking about politics these days just isn’t fun. It is impossible to have a discussion without acknowledging the embarrassing state of the American electorate. Sure, we can blame the parties and the media and the establishment and whatever other boogeyman we can think of, but the real truth is that we got these two because they are the ones that the voters chose. And that is a terrible, terrible, thought.
So, we’re tackling some alternative issues instead. Real, important issues, like carrot cake (for the record, I hold that carrot cake was rendered obsolete on the day that the technology first existed to put cream cheese frosting onto red velvet cake.)
Just don’t mention Don McClean.
You have been born into a world that tells you that you deserve to go through life without any adversity—full of safe spaces, "micro-aggression" complaints, and insulated lives. But this is an illusion, and a horrifically cruel one at that. It's a con, a statement about reality that is utterly detached from actual human experience.
Previous generations, especially previous generations of men, knew better. They knew there was no such thing as avoiding pain and defeat. You will, too. Maybe it will be in a physical fight. Maybe you'll lose an argument. Maybe you'll get shot down by a girl, or humiliated in public. Maybe you'll lose your dream job or fail a test. Maybe you'll just lose a game of some sort.
Whatever it is—you're going down. Hard. It will be humiliating. It will be painful. It will leave a mark or five. And it will probably happen multiple times. And if you want to succeed and thrive in this world, you'd better throw away the nuclear-bomb-shelter mentality of safe spaces and learn how to deal with the hurt and become stronger in its wake. Victimhood may or may not get you sympathy, but it will certainly not allow you to be content or happy.
Most men knew how to do this, and this includes some of the greatest men in history. US Grant suffered repeated personal failures before helping to win the Civil War. Winston Churchill was politically crushed multiple times—and legitimately so!—before bouncing back to victory repeatedly. You do not have to reinvent the wheel here, but here are some tips to jumpstart the learning process.
First, learn to tell the difference between a scratch, a flesh wound, and a severed leg (emotionally and physically). Not every insult or hurt really means anything or should. Not every stupid thing someone says on the internet or social media is worth your time. Have a sense of proportion about your own self-worth, goals, and values, and understand the difference between stuff you can brush off and stuff that cannot pass.
Second, understand that "going to the mattresses" involves a cost. As Marc MacYoung, one of the foremost experts on violence (and whose work you should read in full), put it: even the winner of a fight ends up with scars and blood and legal problems. In a more minor sense, constantly getting into angry arguments with friends or people on the internet may bring brief emotional satisfaction—but the cost will be a dangerous anger hair-trigger which at the very minimum will lose you friends and will often eat you up from the inside and prevent you from growing. If you can de-escalate or avoid conflict, do so. Pick your battles carefully and fight them intelligently.
Third, try and look at the experience for your own self-improvement. Is there anything I could have done better for my own sake? Is there something I can improve on in this path or did this blow mean I need to go in another direction? Where do I go from here (and I mean go in the sense of progress, not wallow in self-pity and misery)?
Ideally, you should prepare for this sort of thing before the hammer falls. Much like armies train their soldiers thoroughly before they send them to get shot at, training yourself to deal with adversity in a healthy way will make the blow(s) easier to deal with. At the very least, being hit should be a wake-up call to start doing so.
Most importantly, don't do it alone. Male mentors are great for this sort of training and help. There's a reason I suggested you get yourself one.
Now clean off that blood, drink some water, and get back in the ring.
Just a gaggle of people from all over who have similar interests and loud opinions mixed with a dose of humor. We met on Twitter.