Sunday, August 9, 2009

Evil Pharmaceutical Companies Developing Vaccines - For.... Profit!

President Obama's chief state goal for his health care proposals are to control costs by eliminating wasteful and unneeded spending on health care. But if you look at the guts of the proposals, the only cost containment measures are to reign in reimbursement rates or to make whole classes of procedures not covered. So in the name of covering everyone, everyone will be get less coverage.

But it is the cost containment piece that seems untenable to me. The headline in this morning's paper was "Big vaccine makers take lead in swine flu fight." The article notes that Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis reported making its first batch of H1N1 vaccine in early June and started clinical trials in July. Which leads me to the question, how is Obama going to stop a foreign company from making a profit on the swine flu vaccine, especially if it is the only company to make the vaccine? The article also notes that some small San Diego biotechs "are pursuing experimental approaches that could prove important if conventional vaccines run low or become ineffective." How long do you think that venture capitalists will fund these start-ups if strict profit caps are put on such companies. For all the talk about rising costs, a big part of the reason that health care is consuming a larger share of spending is that we have chosen this through a somewhat free-market process. We spend less on other things, like food and clothing, because they don't require high tech, and more on something we care about, like surviving swine flu. How is this bad? Unless we are going to nationalize the entire economy like say, North Korea, there will be inevitable upward pressure on health care spending. Trying to stop that will only result in outrageous injustices like denying people access to vaccines or paying doctors so little that they opt out of the government system.

Read this NY Times article on Medicare patients not finding doctors because of low federal reimbursement rates. This will be the fate of everyone locked into government plans if the cost containment proposed passes. For Tea Partiers attending Town Hall meetings, if they don't all get canceled, I have another question to ask:

5. To prevent doctors from opting out of "the public option" like they are doing with Medicare are you going to impose jail time or just fines on physicians who don't play ball?


  1. Thing that annoys the CRUD out of me in the "healthcare is a right" argument:
    how the heck do YOU have a right to SOMEONE ELSE'S work?

  2. Foxie, I've never looked at it that way before. Brilliant!

  3. Heh, seriously? I thought I got the basic point came out of something you and B-Daddy posted....

  4. Not quite in as precise of those terms. I'll go back and check but I'll thank you anyway for another eye-opener.

  5. Seriously, no one ever considered intellectual property?

    So where is the profit motive in R&D?

  6. Same as panning for gold, seems to me.

    You'll spend a whole lot of time running water through sand to no effect, and you'll get a few flakes of gold that you'll collect and build up-- but the main hope is to get a nice little nugget that outweighs all the flakes put together.

    Viagra is a good example of such a nugget.....

  7. Not just drugs and technology be hurting but our supply of doctors is already in trouble without any more disruption by the govt. While population has grown, the number of medical school has not increased. Now Boomers are retiring and will be in need of greater care. But the Boomer doctors are also retiring creating an even greater shortfall. We could import docs from India as England had to do. Little problems such as not knowing how to give a transfusion should not really bother us. Dad