This article originally appeared at Forbes. Click here to read the full article.
By Ike Brannon
I am a child of the war against margarine. When the spread was introduced in the 1800s, dairy farmers bitterly fought the product, especially in Wisconsin, the dairy capital of the world and whence my family hailed. The state–at the behest of the farmers–imposed a number of restrictions and taxes on the production and sale of margarine: until the late 1960s, for instance, margarine sold in the state could not be colored yellow, and to this day it cannot be produced with imported vegetable oil. Passing off margarine as butter was a jailable offense in The Dairy State for most of the 20th century. My grandmother would make an occasional sojourn across the state line to pick up her margarine supply when I was little, foiling the dairy farmer’s attempts to look out for her best interests.
Of course, dairy farmers and butter producers put up these roadblocks to protect their profits, although they earnestly declared their intransigence was solely for the benefit of the consumers. Ultimately, of course, consumers benefited greatly from margarine, both by having another choice of spread and also because the competition forced butter producers to improve the quality of their product, much of which was literally inedible at the time of margarine’s introduction in the 19th century.
Today we have another industry endeavoring to ostensibly protect consumers from any potential problems that might arise–this time from the introduction of biosimilar drugs. Biosimilar drugs are medically equivalent versions of biologics, which themselves are drugs manufactured from biological sources. In essence, biosimilars are to biologics what generics are to pharmaceuticals.