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Monday, June 22, 2009

From "The Healthcare Economist" Shafrin's Healthcare Manifesto:

  1. Reduce patent length. I have mulled over supporting the elimination of patents all-together, but as of now I’ll at least strongly support the reduction in the length of patents. Patents give producers a monopoly over certain goods produced for a given amount of time. This creates short-run inefficiencies, which may be outweighed in the long-run if companies increase innovation. So why should we shorten patent length? Boldrin and Levine provide some compelling arguments.
    • Patents do not increase innovation: Before Italian patent protection 1961-1980: Italy discovered 9.3% of the world’s new active chemical compounds. After Italian patent protection: 1980-1983, Italy discovered only 7.5% of the world’s new chemical compounds. India also has limited patent protection, but is generating many of major pharmaceutical advances. Another study shows that strong copyright protections also do not increase innovation.
    • Innovation Chains: Patents prevent innovation by disallowing other firms from building on the work of others
    • Rent Seeking: Patents give companies an incentive to higher lawyers (to extend patent length and increase the scope of the patent) rather than researchers (who invent and innovate).


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