Thursday, October 01, 2009

It's about the money, stupid

Way back in 2005, the californiastemcellreport wrote:

While California is just embarking on a $3 billion stem cell research effort, New Jersey has already poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the biotech biz in its state. And it is considering pumping another $380 million into stem cell research.

When the voters in New Jersey had a chance to express themselves in 2007, the vote was 53-47 AGAINST the bond issue on stem cells.
New Jersey voters reject bond measure on stem cell research on 6 Nov 07
. If the vote were held in 2009, one expects that it would be even less favorable to the stem cell advocates.

Now, in the matter of the Chicago Olympics proposal, we see a similar sort of disconnect, with some politicians not "getting" voters' concern about economics:

Those who don't support the bid cite financial concerns, corruption and transportation problems as the main reasons. It's the familiar refrain: "Why spend billions on games when schools need funding/roads need fixing/hospitals need money?"
The "bread, not circuses" opposition is nothing new. (...) Now, less than half of the city is in favor of the bid (47 percent support vs. 45 percent against). There's been speculation that the drop is due to Mayor Richard Daley's April announcement that the city would take full financial support for the Games.
[from Chris Chase at]

Although one would not characterize Proposition 71/CIRM as a circus, there has been a lot of promotion of unjustified expectations, especially in the realm of patents and patent royalties. More hype than substance.


Chicago was eliminated in the first round of the Olympic voting, with Rio the final winner. Of an IP/Olympics tie-in, note the IAM Blog:

And one place the Brazilians have always looked to reduce costs in the past is in their dealings with the research-based pharmaceutical industry. It may be the world's eighth largest economy, but Brazil still sees itself very much as a developing country. As a result, it does not believe it should pay top dollar for its medicines. In fact, the country believes it should not pay very much at all.

Interestingly, Brazil currently imports $8 billion worth of drugs and medicines a year - which is about half the cost of a London Olympics give or take a billion or so. My guess is that even if they are not sponsoring events in Rio in 2016, pharma companies may well find that they make a significant contribution to their success as Brazil seeks to find compulsory licensing savings in order to finance building and other infrastructure projects.


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