Technological Change Moves Faster Than Bureaucracy

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Technological change moves much faster than bureaucracy, and it is the patent office that must bear the collision of novelty and government – for anyone who wishes to profit from their genius must go there to have their constitutional right to the proceeds from it verified. Exactly what technology can be patented in this day and age, as our bodies and proteins become subject to technology themselves, is indeed in need of some clarification. Today scientific advances allow us to look into the deepest codes that create our bodies – our genes. With a small sample scientists can isolate the miniscule structure of just a single gene and analyze it for every divergence it displays in an individual as compared to the ‘normal’ human population.…show more content…
Smith Pharmaceuticals is one of these corporations. Over several years, they spent hundreds of millions of dollars on research perfecting the method to synthesize and analyze cDNA – complementary DNA – in the genes LIF and LCK. Mutations in these two genes, as Smith discovered, correlated with and were highly indicative of an increased risk of leukemia. Smith filed a patent on these genes and the process of the diagnostic test, and has since benefited over one million potential leukemia patients with a diagnostic that allows them to take preemptive strikes against the disease – the average cost of leukemia in the Netherlands is $104,386 (de Uyl et al.), and one treatment in the United States costs $178,000 (Chen), while Smith’s test is under $4000, and usually insurance eligible under new Federal law, qualifying as preventative care. As the Economist puts it succinctly, “the point of a patent is to encourage innovation by giving inventors a limited period of exclusive control over the fruits of their labour,” (April 2013). Smith invested these large sums into identifying this gene under the assumption that it would make profit off of these tests due to its rights over the information it gathers – and, important to note, it would not have done so without this financial motivation. Otherwise, it is highly plausible that LIF and LCK’s benefits would lie undiscovered even today, and the one million patients tested at under $4000 would all be undergoing $178000
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