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Comment Re:Good news - now Novartis will make generics :-) (Score 1) 288

Do you have any idea how large this country is? Or how much per capita our space program costs? Or how it's used in the first place?

This is the usual argument that because someone is living on welfare, they shouldn't be allowed to have a car/computer/mobile phone/whatever.

As a country, we don't believe that minor changes should be patentable, or that life saving drugs should cost someone's entire life savings. The cost difference between Novartis' Glivec and the closest generic is an entire one-hundred-fold - if the Indian generics are making money off that price difference, why can't Novartis?

As a country, we have no reason to support the profit motive of any single company. Thanks!

Comment Re:The morality of the pharmaceutical companies (Score 1) 288

Here's a more detailed look.

The important bit:

Glivec is the brand name of Imatinib. Novartis had applied for a patent for a modification of this drug, a “beta crystalline” salt form of Imatinib Mesylate or IM, which it said could be better absorbed by the body – by up to 30% more. After its patent application was rejected by the Patent office, Novartis moved the Intellectual Property Board, Chennai. The Board rejected the claim, but gave certain findings favourable to the company. Instead of filing an appeal before the Madras High Court, Novartis moved the Supreme Court.

A Bench of Supreme Court Justices Aftab Alam and Ranjana Desai said: “We firmly reject the appellant’s case that Imatinib Mesylate is a new product and the outcome of an invention beyond the Zimmermann [original] patent.”

The Bench said that the patent application contains a “clear and unambiguous averment” that all the therapeutic qualities of the modified form, for which the patent was applied, “are possessed” by the original version.

Comment Re:The morality of the pharmaceutical companies (Score 1) 288

India also has between 40 and 60 percent of the population below the poverty line. We can't exactly afford $6000 a shot for life-saving drugs as a country. Hence, compulsory licensing.

Besides, the patent wasn't (and isn't) valid in India, the modification is too slight (according to the IPAB, the High Court and the Supreme Court) to be patented. India, like the US, has separation of powers. The courts work independently of the executive, and they do not make decisions on political considerations or for supporting industry. They - especially the Supreme Court - has a long history of going against the government, against industry, whatever. In this case, no protectionism needs to be postulated.

Comment Re:The morality of the pharmaceutical companies (Score 1) 288

Two parts to this, and you only got the first.

1) Novartis had an international patent on the drug, but that wasn't enforceable in India because we didn't have drug patents. That patent has expired.

2) They tried to apply for a patent based on the original drug, but the court ruled that a) the original is already known (and in public domain) and b) the modification wasn't worth patenting.

Besides, there's compulsory licensing in Indian patent law, especially with regard to life saving drugs. They can be forced to license it to competitors, at a price set by - I'm not sure if it's the patent office or the courts...

Comment Re:The morality of the pharmaceutical companies (Score 1) 288

Advertising, to begin with. There's a percentage of docs who'll prescribe what the pharma reps tell them to...

Then, there's a legal difficulty in producing generics. Just like in software cases, where what's protected by a patent may not be obvious, it's possible for Novartis or some other patent holder to file a wrongful claim against a generic and keep the case pending for years. The case itself may not be legit, but we know how many bad decisions have been handed down in patent cases, especially where judge/jury don't understand the technicalities involved...

Finally, why go through all that rigmarole of granting a patent and then ignoring it? If it's insubstantial, there's no need to grant a patent!

Comment Re:It's a good thing... (Score 1) 288

3 and 4) Because the human body is incredibly more complex than a car; you don't have tens of systems interacting, you have tens of millions of them. A car is barely as complex as the average cell!

5) That assumes that one is even possible. Or that the false positives/negatives from such a system wouldn't cause loads of cases of misdiagnosis and mistreatment.

6) You can get in-ear phones practically anywhere. That's closer to a magnifying glass. You still need to go to a trained ophthalmologist to get a prescription for proper lenses.

You're railing against the wrong thing here; FDA (or similar agencies for those of us in rural areas outside the US) rules are not meant to make things more expensive; they're meant to make things actually usable in the field. In all your cases, omitting the FDA requirements would not merely make things cheaper, but positively more dangerous, more open to quackery and more difficult for doctors and patients to judge.

In this case specifically, the problem was not that the company (Novartis) is finding it difficult to get approval for something because it's expensive; the problem is that they're trying to push up the cost on an 'innovation' that doesn't really require testing (or at most, minimal testing), since it's a modification of something that already exists. The cost difference between them and their competitors shows that. Remember, generics or not, their specific product would still have to be tested. If the competition can offer a drug at a hundredth of the cost, it's most probably a case of greed, not of genuine costs.

Comment Re:West Virginia is the butt... (Score 4, Insightful) 183

The #1 reason was the same sort of divisive party politics that continues to this day, with the same party names even. You know what the Republican fringe was saying about Obama during the last elections? That was pretty much what the Democrats were saying about Lincoln, except replace "socialism" with "abolitionism".

Looks to me like it was the south that made slavery the issue on which they opposed Lincoln; divisive politics based on slavery...

Then there was the whole movement from rural, agriculture-based societies to urban, industrial society. Always a cause for major upheaval. And guess what? East Virginia was mostly agricultural, and West Virginia was mostly coal mines (and thus economically aligned with the Northern cities they fueled).

Slavery was part of that; industrial societies don't work so well with outright slave labour. Agricultural societies often do - or at least, more primitive ones based on large plantations.

Comment Re:Before dismissing De Icaza (Score 4, Insightful) 616

Alright, why not use a six-year old Linux?

You won't get the ABI breakage, but you won't get any new features for the next six years, either...

But you'd still not be getting the whole story there. Linux's in-kernel driver ABI is not stable, meaning that manufacturers can't merely drop a driver installer into a CD and distribute it with the hardware. On the other hand, most run-of-the-mill hardware is supported without a stable driver ABI, because those drivers live inside the kernel itself. I've rarely had any problems with Linux SATA support, for example, because most decent ATA/SATA drivers are in the kernel tree...

It hits companies like nVidia that don't want to release any (or rather, enough) specifications for the kernel devs to make and maintain their own drivers. In other words, blame the hardware manufacturers.

The external ABI of the kernel is remarkably stable. As Linus and Alan Cox say in the article, you can run a binary made in 1992 on a modern kernel. In 1992, Windows was still DOS, meaning that anything built then was 16 bit, which is unsupported on Win7, and Mac ran one of OS 1 thru 9 (don't ask me which), which worked through an emulator for the last few years, and now even that's gone!

Apart from that, today many drivers can be supported through things like FUSE and libusb, which don't require you to muck around with the in-kernel drivers. Lots of devices - keyboards, mice, memory devices - run perfectly well out of the box. Even today, when you plug in a new mouse in Windows, it "installs new drivers"! What? New drivers for a mouse?

Macs are better, but they also target a very frozen hardware spec. Want to change something? Be prepared to hack like crazy!

Again, is a 6 year release cycle something to be proud of? Especially the XP-Vista one, where it wasn't just 6 years, it was 6 years, at the end of which we got a half-done POS that needed to be fixed with Win7... Saying "we don't have so much ABI breakage because we're slow, and when we break that, we break everything else too" is kind of pointless!

And finally, when Microsoft breaks things, they break things ! For example, in Win8, the preferred programming environment for GUI apps is whatever-they're-calling-Metro-now, which is based on XAML, but is not the same XAML as either WPF or Silverlight, which were the accepted orthodoxy in the previous release, which is different from the blessed API of the one before that (WinForms), which wasn't used by their teams, who favoured the older API they had (MFC), with WinForms and WPF getting the ribbon after MFC got it (like it or not, the ribbon is MS's standard, which they didn't support in their touted dev platform for a LONG time), and so on...

By contrast, the Linux API and preferred method of writing client code haven't changed for two decades.

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