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Boldrin & Levine on Covid-19, Vaccines, the Pharmaceutical Industry, and Patents

Important recent work by Michele Boldrin & David Levine, authors of Against Intellectual Monopoly, about why, contrary to arguments given by pro-patent shills and the pharmaceutical industry and its lobbyists, patents are actually not necessary in the pharmaceutical industry and in the production of vaccines.

See also:

For something tangentially related, see “Patents Kill Update: Volunteers 3D-Print Unobtainable $11,000 Valve For $1 To Keep Covid-19 Patients Alive; Original Manufacturer Threatens To Sue” and Joshua M. Pearce, “A review of open source ventilators for COVID-19 and future pandemics,F1000Research (2020), which states (citing AIP): “Putting aside the absurdity of patenting and then obstructing others from using obvious inventions in normal times, in the wake of a pandemic where millions of lives are at stake, it is intuitively obvious that this type of greed is no longer acceptable.”1

  1. Abstract: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) threatens to overwhelm our medical infrastructure at the regional level causing spikes in mortality rates because of shortages of critical equipment, like ventilators. Fortunately, with the recent development and widespread deployment of small-scale manufacturing technologies like RepRap-class 3-D printers and open source microcontrollers, mass distributed manufacturing of ventilators has the potential to overcome medical supply shortages. In this study, after providing a background on ventilators, the academic literature is reviewed to find the existing and already openly-published, vetted designs for ventilators systems. These articles are analyzed to determine if the designs are open source both in spirit (license) as well as practical details (e.g. possessing accessible design source files, bill of materials, assembly instructions, wiring diagrams, firmware and software as well as operation and calibration instructions). Next, the existing Internet and gray literature are reviewed for open source ventilator projects and designs. The results of this review found that the tested and peer-reviewed systems lacked complete documentation and the open systems that were documented were either at the very early stages of design (sometimes without even a prototype) and were essentially only basically tested (if at all). With the considerably larger motivation of an ongoing pandemic, it is assumed these projects will garner greater attention and resources to make significant progress to reach a functional and easily-replicated system. There is a large amount of future work needed to move open source ventilators up to the level considered scientific-grade equipment, and even further work needed to reach medical-grade hardware. Future work is needed to achieve the potential of this approach by developing policies, updating regulations, and securing funding mechanisms for the development and testing of open source ventilators for both the current COVID19 pandemic as well as for future pandemics and for everyday use in low-resource settings. []
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To the extent possible under law, Stephan Kinsella has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to C4SIF. This work is published from: United States. In the event the CC0 license is unenforceable a  Creative Commons License Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License is hereby granted.