Re: [OPE] intermission

From: Gerald Levy <>
Date: Wed Nov 04 2009 - 17:59:20 EST

If we move to the issue of the production of knowledge as an organised
and repetitive process : developing a new drug for example, then the
labour required to produce a new one can be fairly well estimated by
past experience. There will also be a multiplicity of chemical formulae
that may have similar use values : multiple formulae for anti-flu drugs
for example. This process means that the production of knowledge becomes
a line of business like any other and is subject to the same imperatives
to economise in the use of labour in knowledge production as occurs in
other branches of production. The process of knowledge production then
becomes mechanised and parallelised in a similar fashion to machine
industry : the use of combinatorial chemistry, mass screening, micro
assay techniques etc. This means, I think, that the standard forms of
analysis of value production in industry still apply.

Hi Paul C:

Insofar as the pharmaceutical industry is concerned, how do you
count the labour that went into R&D? And, if the R&D doesn't have
the consequence of resulting in an actual commodity (let us recall, after
all, that R&D is by its very nature risk-taking), then how does that
'wasted' labor count? Is the labor cost, for instance, added to the
price lof _other_ drugs which the company sells or is it simply a loss
and thereby receive a lower individual rate of profit? One has to recall
this industry is oligopolistic and the pricing does not follow what would be
anticipated in more price-competitive branches of production. Why suppose
that these drugs are sold at their value?

In solidarity, Jerry

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Received on Wed Nov 4 18:10:07 2009

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