Nobel Intentions

  • by: |
  • 10/06/2006
Imagine if we decided that there was a “crisis” in American transportation – that transportation was “too expensive.” Would we opt to slash spending for new road and bridge construction?

Now imagine there is a crisis in American health care.

Tyler Cowen (professor of economics at George Mason University), in a very thought-provoking article in the New York Times, makes some important points vis-à-vis investment in pharmaceutical development and a reality check on outcomes both in the US and abroad.

A few enticing cantlets:

“The American government could use its size, or use the law, to bargain down health care prices, as many European governments have done. In the short run, this would save money but in the longer run it would cost lives.”

“Medical innovations improve health and life expectancy in all wealthy countries, not just in the United States. That is one reason American citizens do not live longer.”

“The National Institutes of Health’s current annual research budget is $28 billion, All European Union governments, in contrast, spent $3.7 billion in 2000, and since that time, Europe has not narrowed the research and development gap.”

“In the last 10 years, for instance, 12 Nobel Prizes in medicine have gone to American-born scientists working in the United States, 3 have gone to foreign-born scientists working in the United States, and just 7 have gone to researchers outside the country.”

“Even when the initial research is done overseas, the American system leads in converting new ideas into workable commercial technologies.”

“The gains from medical innovations are high. For instance, increases in life expectancy resulting from better treatment of cardiovascular disease from 1970 to 1990 have been conservatively estimated as bringing benefits worth more than $500 billion a year. And that is just for the United States.”

Here is a link to the original article:

Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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