Friday, October 31, 2008

What’s Going to Happen after Election Day?

Less than a week to Election Day. I’m going to stick my neck out, Larry loves it when I do, and predict that it’s going to be Obama. Not exactly good for McCain, but, he only has himself to blame. He neglected to notice that the Cold War was over. But, there will be bad news for others, such as Big Pharma. (OK, there probably would have been bad news even if McCain won.)
Earlier, I had written about how neither of the two candidates would be good for the drug industry. I wasn’t the only who thought so. In fact, I recently came across an opinion article in the online edition of The Wall Street Journal , - Opinion: How Obama Would Stifle Drug Innovation, by a Dr. Scott Gottlieb outlining how Obama’s policies could curtail drug research.
Dr. Gottlieb presents the proposition that in order to pay for affordable medical care for younger people, Obama would have to introduce controls over newer, more effective drugs for diseases such as cancer. While I agree with him that the next administration will attempt to rein in drug prices, I’m a little skeptical about a new front opening up in the ongoing generational conflict.
I do subscribe to the argument that preventative healthcare can lead to reductions in the incidence of diseases such as diabetes. We’ve been told for years that not smoking reduces the likelihood of lung cancer and emphysema. Reduce or eliminate the illness and you eliminate the need for expensive treatments. Funding improved healthcare for younger people can avoid more expensive solutions later on. Not to mention the improved quality of life for those concerned. To say nothing of the improvements to the American landscape afforded by a major reduction in obesity.
I also have reservations about the idea that drug companies should charge whatever the market will bear for their drugs. If tomorrow someone discovers a cure for AIDS, does anyone really think that they would be permitted to charge whatever they wanted? Third world countries have already been breaking drug patents when they felt that public need outweighed the profit motive. Precedent exists for this. Defense contractors have been limited to “fair” profits for their products in time of war.
The success rates for new drugs mentioned by Dr. Gottlieb seem to suggest that the current model of private funding may have outlived its usefulness. Great risks require great rewards. I think that I’ve already shown that great rewards are going the way of the dodo bird. If government funding can split the atom, send a man to the moon, and, maybe, just maybe, avert another Great Depression, then finding a cure for cancer may not be beyond the realm of possibility.
Whatever happens after Obama wins next week, Big Pharma’s days of unchallenged domination of drug development are numbered. In fact, they may devolve into generic manufacturers of products developed by government research programs.
As always, we welcome your feedback. Please contact us at We look forward to hearing from you.

Contributed by Guy de Lastin

No comments: