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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

Missed Early Cases

A retrospective analysis of blood samples suggests early SARS-CoV-2 infections may have been missed in the US, the New York Times reports.

Limited Journal Editor Diversity

A survey finds low diversity among scientific and medical journal editors, according to The Scientist.

How Much of a Threat?

Science writes that need for a provision aimed at shoring up genomic data security within a new US bill is being questioned.

PNAS Papers on Historic Helicobacter Spread, Brain Development, C. difficile RNAs

In PNAS this week: Helicobacter genetic diversity gives insight into human migrations, gene expression patterns of brain development, and more.