I often wonder how much healthier everyone would be if every medical discovery (and work in progress) was stored in a big database and freely accessible to any scientist world-wide.

For example, a Montreal Scientist named Bunsen stood up and gave a presentation on his discovery of a vaccine to slow the spread of Aids. In the crowd Beaker — another scientist — who heard this presentation, went back to his lab in the United States, added one molecule of fluorine to Bunsen’s discovery and made it far more potent. Which scientist deserves the recognition? Who should get the profits? Generally, first person who makes it to the patent office gets 100% of any profits. Lets say that Beaker makes MILLIONS from his minor change to Bunsen’s original idea. After this experience, do you think Bunsen will be sharing his research with others in the future?

An article in Fortune magazine is quite interesting and talks about one such scenario. Page two goes on to say:

From 1992 to September 2003, pharmaceutical companies tied up the [U.S.A.] federal courts with 494 patent suits. That’s more than the number filed in the computer hardware, aerospace, defense, and chemical industries combined. Those legal expenses are part of a giant, hidden “drug tax”Ã?—a tax that has to be paid by someone. And that someone, as you’ll see below, is you.