Bet 855

Duration 29 years (02020-02050)

“By 2050, the United States will have passed an amendment abolishing patents and copyrights, OR there will be a patented medical product that will be considered responsible for 5 million American deaths.”

Breck Yunits


Yunits's Argument

Specifics of the bet: by 2050 there will be a page on Wikipedia (or 2050's version of Wikipedia) similar to this page "" which documents the future medical catastrophe that cost the lives of over 5 million Americans OR at some point before that time copyright and patent laws will be abolished in the United States. Between 2000 and 2020, 500,000 Americans died in the Opioid crisis. The root cause of the crisis remains ignored, and as a result America remains vulnerable for a repeat. We will see similar events in the future, including at least one 10x+ worse, due to advances in biotech production and distribution technology. We will see more than 5 million Americans lose their lives in the next medical disaster, unless patent and copyright laws are abolished. The consensus of the media and Justice Department is that the Opioid Crisis began in 1996 when Purdue Pharmaceuticals launched OxyContin. However, the root cause goes one step further, to the US Patent and Trademark Office. Without the U.S. Government 1) granting Purdue a patent on OxyContin giving it the exclusive right to sell the formulation at any price 2) copyright laws protecting Purdue from true and damaging information about the dangers of the medication from leaking and spreading, the opioid crisis would never have happened. Patents were the essential ingredient to Purdue's scheme, as evidenced by a 1996 email from the owner of Purdue urging his executives to "get an audience for our patent infringement suits so that we are feared as a tiger with claws, teeth and balls, and build some excitement with prescribers that OxyContin Tablets is the way to go." The problem is suboptimal, perverse incentives created by patent and copyright laws. A new medical breakthrough without patent protection will generate roughly no more profits for an inventor than having a successful restaurant. A mediocre medical invention with patent protection and misleading marketing will generate profits that make drug lords envious. No reform is possible, patents are rotten at the very core. Couple that with copyright laws, which drastically limit the free flow of information, and you have a recipe for disaster. If Purdue was bad, things will soon get worse. Exponential improvements in biotechnology and supply chains mean the next Opioid Crisis could happen in 2 years, and not take 20. With the incentives the way they are, the next time someone comes up with a patented medical invention that can be mis-marketed, it will be done so faster. By the time the truth comes out it again will be too late. Next time we'll see more than 5 million Americans die. Although the damage from copyright and patent laws extends far beyond the Opioid Crisis, and the 500,000 lives lost to that are but a fraction of what these laws have caused us, the Opiod Crisis is a salient and discernible event caused by these laws, and a warning shot that the worst is yet to come if the root cause is not addressed.

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