Dissent Of The Day

A reader writes:

You wrote, "I value the private healthcare system in the US, that, for all its faults, has innovated medicines that have saved my life."

In an otherwise careful and considered response from a philosophical conservative to a program of spending that goes against your grain but you still guardedly support, this passage fell flat. Its based on a shibboleth, the ingrained automatic conclusion by market fetishists that the private sector does innovation better than the the public.  In the case of health care this is simply untrue. From the New Republic:

The single biggest source of medical research funding, not just in the United States but in the entire world, is the National Institutes of Health (NIH): Last year, it spent more than $28 billion on research, accounting for about one-third of the total dollars spent on medical research and development in this country (and half the money spent at universities). The majority of that money pays for the kind of basic research that might someday unlock cures for killer diseases like Alzheimer's, aids, and cancer. No other country has an institution that matches the NIH in scale. And that is probably the primary explanation for why so many of the intellectual breakthroughs in medical science happen here.

So while the private sector is concentrating their medical research money on creating hair or hard-ons, hell bent on finding the next 'lifestyle' drug that doesn't actually save any lives but rakes in the dough, the public sector is spending on the basic research that creates real medical innovation.  I'm quite sure that some of the retroviral treatments you need were the product of the private sector.  I'm equally sure the majority of the basic research paving the way to those medicines was financed by public funds and conducted in public institutions.

Two-thirds of pharmaecutical research is done by the private sector. There's no question that they cannot replace the NIH, but their research should not be dismissed as hair and hardons. Their work is more geared to treatments for specific diseases, and is vital.

2006-2011 archives for The Daily Dish, featuring Andrew Sullivan

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

Just In