No Ownership Of Ideas

New ideas don’t come out of thin air. They build on information that is already in the public domain, provided by past generations of innovative thinkers and on public education systems that teach people the skills they need to extend existing thinking.

If ever there was a time when new ideas were needed, it is now. The biggest problem facing the planet is climate change. And it is unique, in that if everyone doesn’t adopt measures to combat global warming, no one will be safe. What we do as individuals, or individual countries, is useless unless everyone elsewhere follows suit. This has major implications. Continue reading

Don’t Blame Pharmac

Keytruda is a new immune-oncology drug to treat advanced melanoma released recently by Merck Group at a cost of over $10,000 per month, per patient. Yet again we have a new cancer treatment that is prohibitively expensive released onto the market. Yet again we have clamouring for the government via Pharmac to shell out the extortionate amount of money required to procure the drug.

Of course the government should fund the drug, as it should fund any treatment proven to be effective in treating illness or disease. However the money will have to come out of an already stretched health budget or increased taxes. And it is totally unnecessary. The drug, like most new and effective treatments, is grossly overpriced in relation to the cost of production. Continue reading

Patents and Intellectual Property Rights: Corporate Power vs The Common Good

One of the Alliance Party’s worst fears around the TPP has been confirmed by the text from the agreement released by Wikileaks recently. The U.S. is pushing for much stricter patent controls.

Patents seem on the face of it, a great idea. They work well at an individual level. You have a bright idea, you patent it so no one else can steal it and you can make a few bob out of it. That’s fine if we’re only talking about new styles of table cutlery or garden hose fittings. But when the discovery is a drug that can cure life threatening diseases or sustainable energy technology that could help to halt global warming, patents are much less benign. Harsh patent laws do not work for the common good of people or the planet. Continue reading