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Against Monopoly

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Monopoly corrupts. Absolute monopoly corrupts absolutely.





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Making malaria drugs available at low cost

As reported by Newsweek, a much more efficient way to produce artemisinin, which has a 90% cure rate for malaria, has been found by Berkeley chemical engineer Jay Keasling. Interestingly, he has no intention to get rich from it and has also made sure no one else will. The new drug will be marketed in 2010 at cost. Note, though, that he still patented his discovery. A better commitment would have been to let anyone use it.

There are currently large efforts to make malaria prevention and treatment affordable, but unfortunately this is not quite sufficient, as my research with Doug Gollin shows. A larger problem is that prevention is not efficient enough, so that even at minimal costs you still have substantial malarial prevalence and large impacts on economies. Cost reductions like the one Keasling is generating will have an impact on the economic consequences of the disease, but unfortunately not its spread. It may in fact increase it, as people will find it less useful to protect themselves.


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