I just wanted to quickly highlight a really cool thing that happened in the world this week.
They are insanely prolific siblings, both having written several books, running several companies, building educational content that is being used around the world, and helping build medical infrastructure in impoverished countries like Sierra Leone… among many other things.
On Tuesday, John shared a video on their shared YouTube channel, @vlogbrothers:
To sum up and over-simplify the video, John explains that the medical company Johnson & Johnson holds a patent on a life-saving drug to treat Tuberculosis. When that patent expires next week, it will open the door for generic versions of the drug to be made available in low-income countries, meaning that millions of people who couldn’t afford the drug before will be able to have access to it now.
The estimate by experts is that in the next 4 years, the availability of these low-cost generic alternatives to Johnson & Johnson’s Tuberculosis drugs in low-income countries will save 6 Million lives.
Except, that Johnson & Johnson decided (in a kinda complicated, round-about way) to extend their patent for another 4 years.
A decision that meant that 6,000,000 people would needlessly die from a preventable disease over those next 4 years.
When I saw John’s video shortly after it came out Tuesday, it made me sad.
So many people around the world suffer and die every day from preventable causes. But, for a bunch of reasons, the solutions to prevent that needless suffering and death often simply don’t get implemented.
This just seemed like another scenario where millions of people were needlessly having their lives cut short because of corporate greed and the Western superiority complex…
It made me sad… and mad…
And as is the case with most of those other problems that cause suffering for people around the world every day, I realized I couldn’t anything about this one.
So I moved on with my life, and forgot about the video…
Until today, when I watched the follow-up video by John’s brother, Hank:
Turns out, I was wrong!
I indeed could have done something about it!
And thousands and thousands of people did!
After John’s video came out, people from around the world started putting significant pressure on Johnson & Johnson for their choice which was keeping valuable medical treatment from people whose lives depended on it.
And Johnson & Johnson conceded!
They didn’t relinquish their patent, but they granted a charity license to allow for the generic usage of the drug, allowing affordable generic versions of the drug to be made available in the low-income countries with the greatest needs for these drugs….
… which opens the door to potentially 6 million lives being saved from needless Tuberculosis deaths in these next 4 years.
Wow!!! 🤯 Freaking amazing!!!
And that change took place in just 4 short days!
- Helplessness in the face of the awful things in the world is a lie. A better world is possible, and we can be a part of seeing and making that happen.
- Stunningly awesome and beautiful things can happen, even in very short amounts of time, when good people partner together to push towards seeing positive change brought about in the world.
- Vision and great communication from passionate and influential people who truly understand the problems is vital to mobilize these kinds of changes. John has been making weekly videos for 15 years. And, as Hank explains in his followup, John has been deep-dive learning about Tuberculosis for most of the last year. His understanding of the issue, plus thousands of hours of practicing communication meant that he was able to create a video to mobilize thousands of people to see a change that may end up saving millions of lives.
That’s absolutely inspiring to me.