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This time on Ebola.

So we can’t be surprised about the current Ebola outbreak. We can’t lament the fact that there’s no cure or that it’s an unstoppable and violent virus when remedies could be expedited; we just don’t prioritize them over other, more potentially profitable health problems.

As long as we perpetuate this global system of R&D funding, outbreaks of neglected diseases like Ebola will keep happening. Sadly, it’s a cause shared by many more diseases of the poor, some of which affect multiple times more people than the one that’s currently making headlines.

OK intro Econ students, please comment. UPDATE: here are the beginnings of a serious response. My expectations for a typical response to that? “Medicine … is … just … different.”

On to the Great Range …

4 Responses to “The “Really Serious Wonks” Are at it Again”

  1. Trapper_John says:

    There are so many issues in this article, I don’t know where to begin. I’ll highlight a couple: they lament (despite saying over and over again that they “can’t lament”) that there isn’t more spending on Ebola because profit-minded companies are too busy with less important diseases. Then, in the graph of leading causes of death in Africa, HIV/AIDS is #1 (um, but don’t profit-minded companies spend money on that?) at 1,088,000 deaths and ebola is down the list at… 1 death? Am I doing that math right? Even if they believe that R&D allocation by the remnants of the free market are off, how on earth is ebola your poster child?

    Sure, companies spend money researching baldness, but companies also spend money making rubber ducks, snow globes, and novelty wigs–certainly those resources could be better spent on curing ebola and other “diseases of the poor”? What about your own resources, Steven Hoffman, author of this piece of crap article? You attended some very nice schools (belying the lack of intellect demonstrated in your writing while explaining the wrong-headed thinking), could it be said that your mind would be better utilized actually curing ebola as opposed to writing articles about how someone else should do it?

  2. Speedmaster says:

    Seen on Twitter today:
    “Ebola is more scared of you than you are of it. Ebola spreads thru salad bars. Drink hand sanitizer.”

  3. Doug M says:

    My quick research says that DoD spent $140 million on ebola research.
    with about 10,000 reported cases in history, that sounds like a pretty decent ratio of research dollars vs. potential future victims of the disease.

  4. Harry says:

    The FDA sees as part of its mission to protect the public not just bad side effects of new drugs, but also from drugs that are not, according to its statistical methodology, efficacious. This goes back to protecting people from snake-oil salesmen selling bitter-flavored poison liquor, along with a predjudice against any economic transaction that might be deemed to take advantage of someone suffering from disease. Thus, the half-billion dollar double-blind trials for efficacy, where a drug has to benefit everybody. I know this is an oversimplification, but the process probably has kept from the U.S. market many beneficial therapies that work sometimes, given the right person and the right mechanism.

    Of course, it would bad to let doctors to murder patients (who were not federally insured?) with poison, and it might be argued that if that poison came from a, dare I say it, corporation, then the corporation should be prosecuted, but nobody is arguing that murder is justified, right?

    Rather, the question is whether the FDA might loosen its policy on efficacy, which is debatable on many legitimate grounds. In general, it would be a good idea if every new drug did not have to cost a billion dollars and take a decade to develop. I bet it would be easy to cut those numbers in half.

    Would this make the legal drug business more profitable? Of course? Why do we fear that?

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