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Patent = Stuffed Teddy Bear?

US Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) proposed a new piece of legislation that would eliminate the patent system for new drugs, and would instead award inventors or developers cash prizes, says Pharmalot's Ed Silverman. The bill, called the Medical Innovation Prize Fund Act, would eliminate any barriers to making generic drugs, including vaccines, and would set up an $80 billion annual fund to pay the inventors, Silverman says. Sanders has also proposed a separate $3 billion fund for those who specifically develop drugs to treat HIV and AIDS. According to the bills, the federal government and private health insurance companies would provide the money. Medical Innovation Prize Fund Act adds:

By de-linking research and development incentives from product prices, and by eliminating legal monopolies to sell products, it is possible to induce investments that are medically more important, procure products at low prices from competitive suppliers, radically lower pricing barriers for access to new medicines, reduce wasteful marketing and research and development activities, and dramatically lower the overall costs of acquiring innovation, while expanding access to that innovation.

Sanders has tried this before, and has been rebuffed, Silverman says, and it's unclear if the current bill has any support. A poll asking Pharmalot readers if prizes should replace patents is currently leaning heavily — 75 percent — toward no.

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.