I am the Principle Investigator for a drug company sponsored trial. One of the things I do prior to randomizing patients is spend some time talking with each subject. Today, we enrolled a patient who told me how he helped produce the firs polio vaccine. His first job was at Park-Davis and when they began to mass produce the Salk live-Polio Vaccine he was transferred to that facility. Its cool that this man had, as a young man been part of drug production and now, near the end of his life he is again integral to drug research and development.
A few years ago I read Patenting the Sun by Jane S. Smith. It is an account of the scientific, political and beaurocratic dramas associated with this breakthrough. One of the most interesting aspects of the book was seeing how the egos of the scientific establishment worked against Salk at every turn.
The title of the book comes from an interview of Jonas Salk in which he was asked if he was going to patent the vaccine. He looked at the questioner with surprise and told him, “That would be like patenting the sun.”
What a great attitude and one that is so different than our world where doctors patent bicarbonate to prevent contrast nephropathy. Shameful.