Wednesday, January 30, 2008

An ongoing theme Pt. 2

Megan sez,

The left, of course, has its own fantasy solution set: drugs should be both innovative and cheap.

But clinical trials for a single successful drug cost $500 million, and not because the labs have outrageous administrative overhead.
Megan will never admit it, but she reads FMM.
I'll begin by noting that, as usual, Megan doesn't bother with references or citations to back up a single assertion of fact. It's not like anyone would expect her to, at this point, but I could argue, in response, that it actually would only cost five bucks and a pack of smokes to cure every disease known to man and we'd be on equal argumentative footing. Megan, since I know you're reading this, let me once again make this point explicit; you are not a trustworthy source. If you want to use numbers to make a point, you have to prove those numbers are accurate. It's so simple even you, and Jonah, can get it. Show your work, pretend math genius.
And then it gets really bad. First, Megan decides that 1.) questioning whether the profit driven model is beneficial to medical science means you want the government to nationalize all medical research and 2.) medical research undertaken by the government can only handle general concepts and only private industry can make specific, targeted use of these generalities. I'd respond to these premises, but, for one, they're self-evidently moronic, and besides, they're an artless dodge.
The question is not who pays the development costs, but what drives development. In a profit driven model drugs that market research indicates will sell are pushed, which is why there are half a dozen male impotence drugs. Industrial research is specific as opposed to government research because the gubbermint, presumably, is after knowledge that will benefit humanity, or at least Americans, the medical industry is after drugs that will put money in their pockets. And no one rational is arguing that private companies shouldn't be able to charge a fee for their products to recoup development costs and enjoy a little profit. But it should just that, a little profit. Medicine, like journalism, has undergone an under reported (I wonder why) but historic shift in the last few decades, away from being a public service to just another industry that has to produce ever growing returns for an already moneyed elite, to the detriment of everyone else. It's one thing for doctors to expect to be made rich by their work, they're saving fucking lives. The beancounters, on the other hand, mostly make their money figuring out how to limit access to discoveries, for their own enrichment.
You see, what Megan is ignoring by dismissing government funded research is that such research demonstrates that huge profit margins ARE NOT NECESSARY to advance medical science, hence her pathetic attempts to belittle the results of that research by comparing private innovation in home appliances to medical science.
This is why when you start to make a list of all the state-run economies that have produced large numbers of innovative products with a high level of consumer satisfaction, you have to throw your privately manufactured gel pen aside in disgust. For whatever reason, the government is just not good at producing innovation.
Maybe because new washing machines aren't particularly important to the public good, but, say, research into SARS is? Or, perhaps, and I know this makes Megan's brain hurt, because the government doesn't exist to turn a profit.
Fittingly for a post filled with bullshit and dodges, Megan ends with a doozy of a strawman; the military.
Before you say it, I know that you are leaning forward in your chair, your eyes alight, preparing to demand "What about the military?!" and lean back triumphantly in your chair. My friend, have you ever taken a close look at the military procurement process? It costs a fantastic amount of money to generate products that often aren't even wanted by the end users--how many times have you read about some military service being forced to buy some gargantuan piece of equipment they don't want because the thing is being manufactured in a key congressman's district? This is how we spend four percent of our national income on something that most of the American public never sees. Forgive me if I'm not excited about applying the same process to health care.
From the NYTimes:
In 1950, about 5 percent of United States national income was spent on health care, including both private and public health spending. Today the share is about 16 percent. Many pundits regard the increasing cost as evidence that the system is too expensive.
I'll grant the article goes on to complicate that final assertion, but I think my point is made.
And, well, the next time I see anyone even vaguely leftish point to our military procurement system as a successful way of accomplishing anything aside from distributing pork will be the first. (And no, Megan, anything Hillary or Lieberman has said doesn't count.)
In the end, Megan doesn't answer the initial question, of why we can't have both innovation and affordable drugs. To do so would involve discussion of the profit margins in the industry, and how expected earnings affect allocation of research dollars. Megan is either incapable of doing so critically, or afraid to be honest and simply say she doesn't give a shit about people when there's money to be made. Either way, expect more dishonest responses to laughable strawmen instead of detailed discussion of complex topics until Megan finds a new way to smear feces on her face next week.


Anonymous said...

Oh that last sentence is going to make her cheeks turn red.

Anonymous said...

"For whatever reason, the government is just not good at producing innovation."

I know. Like that time a government program put a man on the moon.

NutellaonToast said...

Pfft, that was outsourced to a sound stage in Hollywood. Everyone knows that clever.