I watched a TED x Talk entitled: Why are drug prices so high? Investigating the outdated US patent system. Priti Krishtel, a lawyer and activist, talked about how the outdated patent system has allowed for legal loopholes for pharmaceutical companies. Krishtel spoke of how the patent system was created to incentivize innovation in the United States and further human progress. With extensions to various patents, companies have in Krishtel’s words a “time limited monopoly” on their product. For the medical community, this can have damaging effects as medication for diseases is something that an individual cannot live without. Thus, these pharmaceutical companies can increase their product to whatever value they see fit as there is no alternative for their customers. Krishtel’s argument is that this system must be modified so the public can afford medication for loved ones without going financially bankrupt. Her reforms include a limitation on patents, changing the financial motivation for the US patent office, increase public awareness, having more legal suits against these corporations, and having stronger oversight on how our health data is being distributed.
This talk is related to the study of leadership because it shows a model of followership that is defined as being a bystander. While these pharmaceutical companies are immensely powerful and rich, the public has accepted that medication and healthcare in the US is expensive. As a nation, the United States spends the most amount of money on healthcare among developed nations and yet there are millions of people without proper access to healthcare services. This bystander mentality can definitely be attributed to the cutthroat narrative of American business. America is a country where its citizens are mostly self-interested and focused on their own aspirations. The business side of the medical industry is currently operating on similar standards of ethics comparable to investment bankers. The only way change can occur is if more citizens are actively engaged in the political process. If Americans are willing to protest the absurd costs of their medication and pester the US congress, lawmakers will see the importance of amending the US patent system and the prices of common medication such as insulin. The battle to keep drug prices fair cannot be won by individuals such as Krishtel, but only by a substantial number of perceptive Americans.
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