Ohio lawmaker: Cure a major disease and win a multi-billion dollar prize

Ohio Statehouse (file photo)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WDTN) – Cancer is the bane of many of our existences.

It has been responsible for taking our loved ones away from us for decades, or made us suffer terribly through treatments to beat it into remission.

There are other major diseases we face throughout our lifetimes that cost us thousands of dollars to treat.

Humanities desire to live is so strong, some will pay anything for the chance to extend their life for a few priceless extra days with our families.

Ohio House of Representatives member Jim Butler says pharmaceutical companies have taken advantage of this and no longer search for cures, but for the next drug to treat the disease keeping the populace in a constant war that only they profit from.

“Pharmaceutical companies are simply not incentivized to look for cures, and that’s why we haven’t had any cures in the past 50 years,” said Butler.

It all boils down to money.

Butler says it is more lucrative for drug companies to keep stringing us along than to cure the disease that is causing the problem in the first place.

Right now, Butler claims, drug companies can make about a billion dollars per year with a blockbuster drug they own the patent to.

After six or seven years when that patent runs out, and the earnings from it drop off because cheaper generic versions come out, the drug companies move on to the next designer drug according to Butler.

There is no incentive to find a cure because then the revenue stream would be cut off.

Butler wants to change that.

He has introduced a bill that would create a compact between states that would agree to award a multi-billion dollar prize to whoever finds a cure for a major disease.

“It’s going to incentivize something that could change the world, and dramatically improve all of our lives,” said Butler.

The prize would have to rival what could be earned by simply treating the disease ad nauseam.

It would kick in once six states have agreed to be part of the compact, Ohio would be the first and five others would have to join.

There would be no limit to the number of states or countries that could join, and each one would increase the potential prize.

The prize would be based on the disease and its impact on each participant state or country.

The more money a state or country would save as a result of a cure the bigger the prize gets.

Once the compact is up and running and a cure is verified, whoever came up with it would have to sign the patents over to the compact in exchange for the prize money.

The compact would take out a loan for the prize money at that time.

The compact would then make the cure easily available to everyone around the world.

States and countries not in the compact would be able to access the cure, but would pay a royalty on it.

The royalties would go toward paying off the loans interest and reduce the amount the compact participants would have to spend to pay off the loan.

Butler estimates a cure for Alzheimer’s, with a compact of 10 average sized states, could net somewhere between $12 billion and $25 billion dollars.

Butler says the prize amount skyrockets if the U.S. federal government joins the compact, and more so if other countries do as well.

Butler truly believes there are brilliant people out there who have cures but no way to test them, because they aren’t getting the financial backing they need.

“The cures are out there, they’re definitely out there,” said Butler. “We just have to fund the research.”

He sees this bill as a way to incentivize investors to put their money into cure based efforts that could net them a return on investment many times larger than otherwise, and in a much shorter period of time.

“In five or ten years, once [the compact] is going, we’ll have cures for major diseases,” said Butler.

Butler’s bill still has a long way to go to get through the Ohio legislature, however it has the support of the majority party’s leadership and the representative is confident it will pass.

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