Intended for healthcare professionals


Scrooge and intellectual property rights

BMJ 2006; 333 doi: (Published 21 December 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;333:1279

Inspired to find a cure for diseases, spurred not mainly by the lure of money but by the responsibility to alleviate suffering

For those of us who have not yet been inspired to find a cure for any
of the myriad of debilitating diseases, this article (1) by Nobel laureate
Dr. Joseph E Stiglitz could be a wake up call. Not for the money aspect
mainly, but to alleviate suffering. Money and fame is just a follow-up,
and maybe an incentive to work harder. This article could also encourage
governments/philanthropic foundations to float prize funds, along the
model of the Nobel Prize and the comparatively smaller Laskar Awards.

Dr. Bruce Charlton, Editor-in-Chief of “Medical Hypothesis” espoused
a similar thought in a recent editorial (2) and points to late Dr. David
Horrobin (the founder of “Medical Hypothesis”) for putting forward a
similar idea in 1986, saying that large cash prizes should be used as an
incentive to find cures (3).

In this connection it is worth mentioning that Prize4Life (4), a
nonprofit organization announced its $1 Million Amyotrophic Lateral
Sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig's Disease/ Motorneuron Disease) ALS/MND
Biomarker Challenge on November 6, 2006. An award of $1 million is to be
presented to researchers who discover a biomarker for ALS. Five $15,000
prizes are also proposed to be given for the best ALS biomarker proposals
due by March 2007.

A step in the right direction has already been initiated.


1) Stiglitz JE. Scrooge and intellectual property rights. BMJ

2) Charlton BG. Mega-prizes in medicine: Big cash awards may
stimulate useful and rapid therapeutic innovation. Medical Hypotheses 68;

3) Horrobin DF. Glittering prizes for research support, Nature
324;1986: 221.


Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

22 December 2006
Biji T. Kurien
Senior Research Scientist
Jobin T. Kurien, Mustang High School, Mustang, OK 73064, USA
Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, Oklahoma City, OK 73104, USA