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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Pharmaceutical Companies According to Jurassic Park

The following quote is from Jurassic Park and stated by a character named Hammond. He's the main man behind creating Jurassic Park. He is speaking with Henry Wu, his main geneticist who is considered somewhat of a genius.

Hammond's speech discusses pharmaceutical companies and I imagine it does simplify and gloss over a lot of issues.  Having said that, what he says does still seem thought-provoking.

'If you were going to start a bioengineering company, Henry, what would you do? Would you make products to help mankind, to fight illness and disease?  Dear me, no. That's a terrible idea. A very poor use of technology.'

(As the reader, you may now think "wow this guy is evil! What a capitalist pig!" This is exactly what the author wants and it makes the following section that much more poignant.)

Hammond shook his head sadly. 'Yet, you'll remember the original genetic engineering companies were all started like pharmaceuticals. New drugs for mankind. Noble, Noble purpose. Unfortunately,  drugs face all kinds of barriers. FDA testing alone takes five to eight years--if you're lucky. Even worse, there are forces at work in the marketplace. Suppose you make a miracle drug for cancer or heart disease. Suppose you want to charge a thousand dollars or two thousand dollars a dose. You might imagine that it's your privilege. After all, you invented the drug, you paid to develop and test it; you should be able to charge whatever you wish.
But do you think that the government will let you do that? No, Henry, they will not.  Sick people aren't going to pay a thousand dollars a dose for medication--they won't be grateful, they'll be outraged. Blue Cross isn't going to pay it. They'll scream highway robbery.  So something will happen. Your patient application will be denied. Your permits will be delayed. Something will force you to see reason--and to sell your drug at a lower cost. From a business standpoint, that makes helping mankind a very risky business. Personally, I would never help mankind.'
Henry had heard the argument before. And he knew Hammond was right;  some new bioengineering pharmaceuticals had indeed suffered inexplicable delays and patent problems.

'Now,' Hammond said, 'think how different it is when you're making entertainment.  Nobody needs entertainment.  That's not a matter for government intervention. If I charge five thousand dollars a day for my park, who is going to stop me? After all, nobody needs to come here. And, far from being highway robbery, a costly price tag actually increases the appeal of the park. A visit becomes a status symbol, and all Americans love that.'

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