So here is an interesting dilemma. Does a government have the right to break a patent based on a health crisis or national emergency? Apparently, Brazil is just about to do that if Abbott Labs does not provide favorable pricing on their AIDS drug.
Brazil is threatening to allow it’s companies to manufacture the drug to be sold to third world countries that cannot afford the drugs at the current pricing. For those that need the drugs, it’s a blessing, and very well a lifesaver. For Abbott Labs, it would be considered outright theft. So what is a government and company to do?
For Abbott Labs, a publicly traded company, their one main responsibility is to the shareholder. They’re not in the business of making drugs, they’re in the business of making money, drugs is the mechanism by which they make their money. It’s important to remember that since a company has the responsibility to maximize the investors’ return on investment and raise the stock price, and an executive will focus strictly on that, let no one tell you differently. The only ones that can make a positive change are the shareholders themselves, if they’re willing to see a reduction in their ROI and stock price, for the benefit of a moral obligation to humanity.