How pharmaceutical companies game the patent system

When these companies compete, in the current system, the people lose.

  • When a company reaches the top of the ladder, they typically kick it away so that others cannot climb up on it. The aim? So that another company can't compete.
  • When this happens in the pharmaceutical world, certain companies stay at the top of the ladder, through broadly-protected patents, at the cost of everyday people benefitting from increased competition.
  • Since companies have worked out how to legally game the system, Amin argues we need to get rid of this "one size fits all" system, which treats product innovation — "tweaks" — the same as product invention.

Is granting children's wishes cost-effective? A new study looks at Make-A-Wish.

Donating to the right charities can save lives.

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  • Make-A-Wish stories are heartwarming, but are they worth the cost?
  • Effective donations to the right charities can save lives, even if they don't make for good reading.
  • A recent study into the value of wishes on health care costs gives good news for everybody.
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Too far right and left? DC think tank releases manifesto for radical centrism

Americans must choose the middle path, away from the fundamentalist positions on both the right and the left, argues a Washington think tank.

  • Niskanen Center, a Washington think tank, argues for avoiding the extremes of political positions.
  • The analysts propose that both a regulated free market and bolstered social insurance programs are important.
  • If we don't correct course soon, the American political system may never recover, warn the authors.
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What's worse than drug addiction? The cruelty of drug treatments.

Drug treatment centers pose potential threats to drug addicts.

  • Many drug treatment centers are run as for-profit institutions. Making a buck off of treating people's addictions often runs counter to actually helping addicts.
  • Some Chinese drug centers are experimenting with removing an addict's nucleus accumbens, which saps them of their ability to feel pleasure.
  • The solution to drug addiction may be creating better drugs to use, says author and journalist Maia Szalavitz.
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The opioid crisis is profitable. Blockchain tech can end that.

A tech-minded approach to drug fraud could squash those who enable the deadly opioid crisis.

  • The same way blockchain technology could end the blood diamond trade, it could also stop those profiting from the opioid crisis by removing the traditional opportunities for drug fraud, explains Hyperledger's Brian Behlendorf.
  • "I tend not to blame the drug taker because I think they're just medicating to meet their needs, it's really the distributors and those writing fake prescriptions and others who are enabling a lot of this crisis, and I think distributed ledger technology can help us understand where there might be abuses in that system."
  • Blockchain technology could also revolutionize health information systems — from harnessing the IoT to ensure patients take their medication at the right time and often enough (drug adherence is a big problem), to checking the credibility of doctors, and not having to cart around a small filing cabinet of your life's medical records every time you change doctors or providers.