7.29.2009

Racing towards Cures


Megan McArdle of the Atlantic absolutely nails it when it come to the importance of innovation in health care and medicine:

"The way I look at it, one hundred percent of the population is going to die of something that we can't currently cure, but might in the future . . . plus the population of the rest of the world, plus every future generation. If you worry about global warming, you should worry at least as hard about medical innovation."

Look, I know there's no easy solution to the health care problem in our country. I'm not so libertarian that I don't see a role for government, whether funding basic research, or watchdogging in light of the many funky aspects of health care delivery that don't behave the way free markets should. But I do know that any solution has to make sure that it gives lots of room for lots of people to be supremely motivated to find the next great cure/pill/therapy.

Of course, it seems a whole lot more noble to come up with some lofty rhetoric about covering the uninsured or soaking the rich than to give room for some evil pharmaceutical company or biotech giant to make a gajillion dollars on a breakthrough innovation. Just like it seems more right to create a convoluted pro-environment bill rather than just price carbon correctly enough to unleash the profit motive within a million greedy entrepreneurs in search of the next big thing in clean energy.

As an amateur blogger, it's easy for me to sit here and opine about what's right and what's wrong; legislators actually have to do sausage-making. Still, I wish there was less posturing and less capitalism-bashing. After all, I'd really like it if I could someday field questions from my grandkids like, "You mean people who got cancer actually died from it? And flu outbreaks were uncontrollable? And people who became paralyzed stayed paralyzed?"
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