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In this talk I reconstruct in previously unavailable detail the 1980s race to clone and market what would be biotechnology’s most important product to date, erythropoietin or Epo, and follow that scientific contest into the courts deciding competing patent claims to the natural protein drug. I argue that through case law in the new domain of recombinant DNA, the US courts imposed a de facto policy that shaped the business and scientific environment of small biotechnology firms so as to narrow research effort and assimilate the sector to the established pharmaceutical industry. I further contend not only that alternative dispensations in patent law were possible at the time, but that the public’s interest might have been better served.
Date: Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Time: 10:00 am – 11:30 am
Venue: Memorial Union, Coconino Room, Tempe Campus
About the Speaker: Nicolas Rasmussen, Professor of History & Philosophy of Science (HPS) at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, holds higher degrees in HPS, Biology, and Public Health. His area of expertise is history of life science in the 20th Century USA, and he is author of Picture Control: The Electron Microscope and Transformation of Biology in America, 1940-1960 (1997), On Speed: The Many Lives of Amphetamine (2008), Gene Jockeys: Life Science and the Rise of Biotech Enterprise (2014). He is currently writing a book on obesity and heart disease in 1950s US epidemiology, public health, and health policy.