Nothing in Dan Liljenquist’s background suggests a desire to upend the generic drug industry.

He is a Republican businessman who believes in free market capitalism. He hails from the conservative state of Utah. And as someone who was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, he concedes that medicines produced by the pharmaceutical industry, as currently constituted, saved his life.

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  • This maybe new for the US but such companies (as aptly put in the article where the social mission is subordinate to the financial one) is seen in Asia. Bangladesh, Indonesia, Sri Lanka (and India quite some time ago) are some of the examples – all the companies are owned by the state. A return on investment is not required but the companies should be self-sustaining and not expect subsidies from the government. They should also compete in a level playing field with the private sector, with no concessions to being a state run organisation; the same criteria for registration of medicines applies. These companies have been successful as controlling factors in the market when they have been properly managed and with a focus on ensuring quality affordable generic medicines.

    Good to see the high income countries learning from the middle and low income countries – there was also a proposal in the UK for the government to manufacture a specific range of generic medicines to combat the same problem that the company in the US is trying to combat.

    So welcome to the world of the social mission of the government providing health care as well as affordable medicines – it has been a long time coming but the low and middle income countries have had a much shorter journey. Health is one of the most imperfect markets – not said by far leftist rebels but by the World Bank and even that in the 1990s.

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