Of Barn Doors and Horses

  • by: |
  • 02/13/2006

Well, isn’t this wonderful? The Wall Street Journal reports today that “… the G-8 nations [propose] to subsidize the purchase of new vaccines—-for between $800 million and $6 billion—-if pharmaceuticals companies develop ones that meet standards of efficacy and safety. Once the G-8 spends the pledged amount, the drug companies would sell the vaccine at a set discount in the developing world.”

So: Having damaged the vaccine sector seriously with a combination of price controls, regulatory hurdles, and absurd tort liabilities, the bureaucrats and politicians now propose to undo the damage using taxpayer resources, all the while, of course, congratulating themselves for their compassion. Well, how is it that the private sector ever produced vaccines at all? To say the same thing differently, we now are reaping the fruits of decades of destructive policies; now taxpayers will have to assume investment risks that the private sector is in a far better position to evaluate and bear. Moreover, the risk allocation issue is only the beginning; which vaccines will receive favor? The ones that offer the biggest health bang for the buck? Or the ones that are most favored among the politically corrrect? And will “profits,” however defined, be limited while losses are not? Will the various governments attempt to use profits from other investments implicitly to subsidize these favored vaccines? Etc. Just asking.


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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