Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Key to Economic Development is the Presence of the Institutions of a Free Society: Property Rights, Rule of Law, Free Markets & Limited Government

In the words of one Ugandan-born American bioscientist, John Kilama, PhD,

“The key to economic development is the presence of the institutions of a free society: property rights, the rule of law, free markets and limited government… Strong intellectual property rights, administered and enforced in an impartial manner, have been an important part of this framework. As a result…countries… which have [put this]… institutional framework [] in place have experienced the growth of ‘knowledge-based’ industries — to the benefit of all” (emphasis added).

According to this same expert,

“Explosive rates of innovation have taken place in countries, such as South Korea, Mexico, Jordan and Singapore, which have understood that growth and prosperity can only occur once the institutional framework is in place. If intellectual property rights are responsible for restricted access to medicines in poor countries, then drugs should be plentiful in countries where the patents are expired or were never present. On the contrary, many of the most critical drugs that Africa still lacks have been off-patent for 30 or 40 years. These include most anti-diarrhoea drugs, antibiotics, derivatives of penicillin and cephalosporin, many antihypertensive drugs and almost all antipyretic drugs. The human genome project hardly serves as a basis for completely altering the current model of intellectual property rights. While it has provided information with potential use, the benefits of its initial research must not be overstated.

Removing property rights and making companies conduct open-source research and development could to lead to disaster. Without the chance of recovering investments, why would research-based pharmaceutical companies invest large sums in drug development? Open-source models might work in some businesses that are not so capital-intensive, but it is a pipe-dream to rely on the philanthropy of chemists, physicians, researchers and financiers to contribute voluntarily to such schemes.”

See John Kilama, “Protecting Patents Protects Patients”, (7/22/05), at: ; John Kilama, “Drug Patents Are Part Of The Cure”, Business Day (7/28/05), at: .

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