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 Post subject: Re: Jealous?
PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2018 2:48 pm 
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DrPhill wrote:
I think I would be able to live with breaking my principles to save a life, for example. The labels 'ethical' and 'moral' do not seem to have a role in my thought processes, perhaps because they are abstract and I think more in concrete forms.

This is true of me as well. I only know my morals when I'm violating 'em, and from the number of times I've done that, I must have a lot of morals indeed. :wink:

DrPhill wrote:
Sorry to Ben for derailing his thread......

Eh? What? :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: Jealous?
PostPosted: Sat Oct 20, 2018 1:16 am 
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DrPhill wrote:
Sorry to Ben for derailing his thread......

Yeah, 'cos, like, I never do that, do I? :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Jealous?
PostPosted: Sat Oct 20, 2018 2:10 am 
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Sorry, just a couple of comments on the off-topic ethics/morals strand.

I'm not convinced that the web page Dr Phill found was correct. I trust the editors of the Shorter OED more than some some web page author. Usage doesn't seem to make things so clear cut. I am not convinced by Nano's usage either so I think one had to do what he has done - explain the usage.

The pharma company CEO example may not be so clear cut either. On the face of it from the journalistic piece they are profiting without adding value and it looks like IP rights gone wrong. But we don't know, for example, how many rights they bought for products that didn't turn out to have market value and if they are being taxed properly on their profits. I think big pharma would say that what seem to be big profits on some things pay for development others that were hoped to benefit mankind but don't work out. Maybe they need obnoxious guys like him to do the dirty work on one side of the equation.


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 Post subject: Re: Jealous?
PostPosted: Sat Oct 20, 2018 2:32 am 
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david_h wrote:
I trust the editors of the Shorter OED more than some some web page author

Are you spluttering with rage? :) I can almost hear your voice dripping with scorn as you utter the words "web page author".

:lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Jealous?
PostPosted: Sat Oct 20, 2018 3:37 am 
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benhall.1 wrote:
Are you spluttering with rage?
No, just being lazily dismissive for the purpose of brevity. I am a big defender of things like Wikipedia where quite a lot of combined effort has gone into creating something useful.


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 Post subject: Re: Jealous?
PostPosted: Sat Oct 20, 2018 4:48 am 
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david_h wrote:
benhall.1 wrote:
Are you spluttering with rage?
No, just being lazily dismissive for the purpose of brevity. I am a big defender of things like Wikipedia where quite a lot of combined effort has gone into creating something useful.

I was being cheeky. It was the way the repeated word "some" sounded in my head. :)

FWIW, I think Wikipedia is fantastic. The way it comes together is brilliant.

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 Post subject: Re: Jealous?
PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2018 1:28 am 
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david_h wrote:
The pharma company CEO example may not be so clear cut either. On the face of it from the journalistic piece they are profiting without adding value and it looks like IP rights gone wrong. But we don't know, for example, how many rights they bought for products that didn't turn out to have market value and if they are being taxed properly on their profits. I think big pharma would say that what seem to be big profits on some things pay for development others that were hoped to benefit mankind but don't work out. Maybe they need obnoxious guys like him to do the dirty work on one side of the equation.
But the issue is not about profits. What I mean is that it's not an issue of high profits == low ethics (or moral). That's not the problem. High profits is widespread and not by itself a problem. Take my sunglasses, for example.. they cost about $60 (the type that can be used when wearing glasses). They're made from plastic, and are clearly made in some kind of printing process. It's all done in China. The production cost is probably something less than (maybe much less than) 50c (and indeed I have seen similar sunglasses on ebay down at the dollar range). In other words, the company is printing money.
But I don't have a problem with that. It's still not very expensive, and I don't need regular resupplies, and it's not life-threatening not to have them. And there are alternatives.
That's not the case with some of the medical products discussed in the arstechnica article. That's about one-supplier, life-saving, must-have medicine, and astronomical prices. There's no reason to believe that a reasonable price isn't enough to have profit - what they want to do is to raise the profit as high as possible, completely without concern about those who may then die because of what they do. And arguing that it must be fine, because there are still buyers. It's like presenting a medicine for curing the Black Death back in the 14th century, and setting the price so high that only the king bought it. It must be perfectly fine, because the profit is higher than if they sold to everyone for a lower price.


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 Post subject: Re: Jealous?
PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2018 7:15 am 
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Tor wrote:
david_h wrote:
It's like presenting a medicine for curing the Black Death back in the 14th century, and setting the price so high that only the king bought it. It must be perfectly fine, because the profit is higher than if they sold to everyone for a lower price.
What if its only possibly to produce enough for the king? Or if the guy who lent the money to develop the medicine wants the debt payed and you need to eat?

Ben - ah, I hadn't noticed the repetition. Was lazier than I thought.


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 Post subject: Re: Jealous?
PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2018 7:40 am 
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david_h wrote:
What if its only possibly to produce enough for the king? Or if the guy who lent the money to develop the medicine wants the debt payed and you need to eat?
But there's nothing indicating that this is the case here, is it? The two cases discussed here is only about being in a monopoly situation (due to patents), and using that for what it's all worth.


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 Post subject: Re: Jealous?
PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2018 8:22 am 
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My earlier post included "it looks like IP rights gone wrong"

Maybe the 14th century King could enact a law that all medicines should be available at low cost to everyone. Then everyone could benefit. After they had been proven to be effective and safe of course. What though if it was one of his powerful nobles who had funded the invention? Or if as part of the arrangement he had to fund some of the development himself rather than, say, keeping the sea, or the French, out.

Why doesn't everyone start a company producing sunglasses and 'printing money'?


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 Post subject: Re: Jealous?
PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2018 11:35 am 
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Tor wrote:
That's not the case with some of the medical products discussed in the arstechnica article. That's about one-supplier, life-saving, must-have medicine, and astronomical prices. There's no reason to believe that a reasonable price isn't enough to have profit - what they want to do is to raise the profit as high as possible, completely without concern about those who may then die because of what they do. And arguing that it must be fine, because there are still buyers. It's like presenting a medicine for curing the Black Death back in the 14th century, and setting the price so high that only the king bought it. It must be perfectly fine, because the profit is higher than if they sold to everyone for a lower price.

Indeed, what is the point of producing medicines if almost no one can afford them? Simply to taunt the wretched, it would seem. One might suspect that certain people still haven't outgrown taking pleasure in pulling the wings off of flies.

david_h wrote:
Why doesn't everyone start a company producing sunglasses and 'printing money'?

Right. But does an ability justify increasing the suffering of others?

Nothing exists in a vacuum. By making medicine, one is not just in the enterprise of making money; the very profession itself implies working for the good of others, and it is no mistake to insist on this. Medicine that can be available to all should be available to all, and there is nothing wrong with putting aside sky-high profit to get that done. People want to be remembered. How much better to be remembered as a benefactor?

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 Post subject: Re: Jealous?
PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2018 4:21 pm 
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Nanohedron wrote:
Nothing exists in a vacuum
That's my point. Neither sunglasses nor medicines become ready for production without someone putting in time and effort up front. How many sunglasses did the maker put into production that were a flop because someone else's were more fashionable. How many rights to medicines did the company pay for that they lost money on? In neither example do we know whether someone is making 'sky-high' profits or not. And, if they are, are they being taxed properly so that the 'king' can fund medicine production - assuming that those who keep him in power wouldn't prefer him to use the money to fix the holes in the road.

Nanohedron wrote:
People want to be remembered. How much better to be remembered as a benefactor?
Well, there is at least one guy about who's company's ski-high profits (and maybe business practices that bring censure) is allowing him to fund malaria prevention. Malaria prevention that was not being funded by rich nations. Maybe because not enough people in those rich countries think that "Medicine that can be available to all should be available to all" if some of the cost has to come out of their pockets/taxes.

The board of the company that bought the medicine rights may be as obnoxious as the CEO they hired. Their shareholders might be into organised crime, but they may also be a pension fund that would rather invest in pharmaceutical than tobacco and who's investement gets a drug to market at some price that wouldn't otherwise be available to anyone, even when the IP rights had expired.

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 Post subject: Re: Jealous?
PostPosted: Tue Oct 23, 2018 1:16 am 
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david_h wrote:
Why doesn't everyone start a company producing sunglasses and 'printing money'?
Maybe they are? In fact there are several brands, and they all make good money on sunglasses. On this particular kind of sunglasses, which can be printed. But the reason not everyone isn't actually doing it is because they wouldn't be able to sell - they're not a well-known brand. So Polaroid can set the price at that very high point because they're a well-known brand. It's not the same as a monopoly in the traditional sense, but without the brand name they wouldn't be able to do what they do. Same with the other brands. What I'm saying is that no, the price does not in any way reflect the investment costs etc. That is *not* why the price point is where it is. The price is there because that's what it's possible to sell the items for, with that brand name.
But also, as I said before, for those kind of products I don't see a real problem. They *are* printing money, and that's ok because it's not killing anyone, so to speak.


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 Post subject: Re: Jealous?
PostPosted: Tue Oct 23, 2018 1:28 pm 
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david_h wrote:
Neither sunglasses nor medicines become ready for production without someone putting in time and effort up front. How many sunglasses did the maker put into production that were a flop because someone else's were more fashionable. How many rights to medicines did the company pay for that they lost money on? In neither example do we know whether someone is making 'sky-high' profits or not. And, if they are, are they being taxed properly so that the 'king' can fund medicine production - assuming that those who keep him in power wouldn't prefer him to use the money to fix the holes in the road.

I think either we're talking at cross purposes, or else you seem to assume I don't take into account that there are costs of overhead, research, production and marketing, and that making profit after the fact is entirely reasonable. If it's the latter, you can put that from your mind. This isn't simply about the cost of doing business, and it's not about that shadowy area of what we know or don't know; I also think your analogy of medicine vs. holes in the road confuses the issue, since (these days, at least) at its source medicine tends to be in the realm of private enterprise, whereas infrastructure is the responsibility of government, so I'm afraid you lost me. What I have been talking about is strictly the ethical matter of setting the price of essential pharmaceuticals well beyond the average customer's reach when a good profit can be achieved at far less. That is all. Martin Shkreli is a textbook case in point. He made no bones about the demonstrated fact that his pharmaceutical prices had nothing to do with the entirely reasonable goal of recouping losses, paying all parties involved not only a good living wage but hopefully better, and making enough profit to keep at it as well; rather, he set his prices beyond the reach of most for no other reason than he claimed the right to do as he wished, and to him the question of ethics was a fool's game. I would suggest that the public censure he faced, and his legal troubles, were well justified.

Since we've been talking about ethics, that's all I've been talking about, too. Real or hypothetical, doesn't matter. Shkreli's case, which is quite real, isn't only about business, you see, since lives were put at risk because of it. That is my meaning when I say nothing exists in a vacuum. Context matters when we speak of ethics. Price gouging during disasters is another example of blatantly unethical conduct; you're not off the hook by saying it's just business. By contrast, there is a fashionable sporting accessories line whose prices are very high indeed, but it must be said that those goods don't seem to warrant what you have to pay to get them, because there's nothing particularly outstanding about them, so nobody's really built a better mousetrap, here. $40 for a thermos tumbler? The lid isn't even spillproof. $400 for a cooler? Looks like any other I've seen. $9 for a bottle opener? Seriously? All you're really paying for is the name and its cachet. Nobody really needs the brand, yet people still pay for it because they can. Is the company being unethical in its pricing? I would say not. Cynical, perhaps; they certainly know their market. But if you can't afford an aspirational brand, then cheaper, just-as-serviceable substitutes are readily available; but more importantly to the question of ethics, either way there is no theft, nor are lives at stake.

I guess Tor said the same thing above, only with better economy.

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 Post subject: Re: Jealous?
PostPosted: Wed Oct 24, 2018 2:28 am 
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I was trying to respond to the sunglasses and medicines examples in the same post. In the sunglasses example the "printing money" view does neglect overall costs. I think the need to cover the costs of development that never yields a product often gets forgotten when discussing the 'mark up' between production costs and asking price.

Nanohedron wrote:
What I have been talking about is strictly the ethical matter of setting the price of essential pharmaceuticals well beyond the average customer's reach when a good profit can be achieved at far less.
Yes, but I on a false basis I think. Going back to the more 'serious' article (https://www.ft.com/content/48b0ce2c-b54 ... d7de085ffe) that the ethics-related quote originally came from we get more background information. It is a more costly liquid preparation of a WHO 'essential medicine' that is cheaply available in tablet form. The producer couldn't make the same profit by selling more at a lower price because he had limited production capacity. He could hike the price for a while because his competitors were currently out action due to new US FDA rules on impurities. If he had explained it as taking to opportunity, during a period of shortage, to recoup some of the costs of his higher quality production facilities then would it be such a good example for a discussion about ethics? I don't know how 'rationing' when something is in short supply works in an largely insurance-based health system but price would be one way of rationalising how its use was prioritised by practitioners. The FDA had made an ethical decision to require an increase in purity at the expense of a short-term supply shortage.

The Shrkreli example is an even worse example. The ethics-related question there for me is "why was a low cost 'generic' version of the drug not available in the USA as it was in most of the rest of the world?". There is another, and even less relevant to the OP, bag of worms there.

I think the sunglasses and fashionable sporting accessories are much more relevant to the OP when it comes to the ethics of promoting a 'brand'.


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