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April 6, 2011
A couple weeks ago I noted an actual mainstream news story about an IP issue
- the drug maker KV Pharmaceuticals raised the price on a drug (marketed as Makena or commonly called 17P) that used to cost $10 per shot. The new price? $1500. Ouch. Then on April 1, KV announced they were dropping the price... to $690
! April Fools!
KV are taking a lot of heat for this debacle. The March of Dimes (a US-based charity focused on "healthy babies") announced it was severing its relationship with KV, a pharmacists group blasted the company, and the FDA responded to KV's cease-and-desist letters by encouraging pharmacists to continue compounding the drug on their own.
I believe that much of this would not have happened if the story hadn't gotten big-press coverage, and it highlights the challenges inherent in monopoly grants such as patents. KV's foolish behavior with its windfall is probably not reason to abolish monopoly grants, but certainly the government should be (more) careful whom it grants a monopoly on what.
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