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Intellectual property is a convenient fiction. It is a right enforced by state power and international agreements, one that’s even more fragile than other forms of property rights since it’s not tangible. We choose to believe this fiction because we also believe that intellectual property adds to general welfare. It permits innovation and growth, and supports writers, artists, inventors — and pharmaceutical companies.

But crises upend beliefs and we are in a crisis at the moment. We should all hope the tradition of treating intellectual property as a real thing survives the pandemic. That hope must be especially keen among the companies most at risk if the myth breaks down: the pharma industry.

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