Author- William Baumgarth
Medicine is an essential human instrument. It is responsible for the increased life-span of both humans and animals alike. It helps us survive and it prevents sickness, both common and uncommon.
However, medicine did not advance to the stage it is at today overnight. The medicines we take for granted took lots of research and money to produce. It took a very selective group of knowledgable and incentivized individuals to produce the medications we ingest on a daily basis.
The U.S is responsible for producing more than half of the world’s new medicines in the past decade, in the process saving thousands upon thousands of lives. Yet, socialists say that medicine needs to be socialized. They say that the U.S ought to be more like Cuba, a country where government takes charge of medicinal research. The socialists think that people who produce and research pharmaceuticals are greedy. The anger towards private pharmaceutical production is very much a result of fairly recent news pertaining to a man known as Martin Shkreli.
Martin Shkreli raised the price of a life saving drug from $13.50 to $750 overnight. To anyone ignorant about the subject, this action seems cruel. However, Martin did nothing wrong.
Pharmaceuticals take billions of dollars to manufacture. The drug which Martin was involved in is known as “Daraprim.” Daraprim is a drug used to treat toxoplasmosis, a rare disease that comes along with AIDs. Daraprim is currently the only viable treatment option for toxoplasmosis. Daraprim has been around since 1953, and is an outdated drug. The side effects of Daraprim are awful as well, something to be expected of an outdated drug. The side effects include nausea, vomiting, headache, and also a possible furthering of blood complications.
What is the solution to Martin Shkreli having control of the drug? To develop a newer and better solution to treat toxoplasmosis. Before any attention was brought to it, Daraprim was an old, non-lucrative medicine. Patients with toxoplasmosis were doomed to take the same outdated medicine with horrible side effects for the rest of their lives. But now? Martin Shkreli has turned medicinal research for toxoplasmosis into a lucrative business. He even claims that he puts the majority of the money he makes from the medicine into further research to produce a superior form of Daraprim.
What happens if he doesn’t however? What happens if Martin is just pocketing all of the money he is making?
Competitors now see toxoplasmosis research as something worth it. Competitors will want to come up with a newer, more effective drug so that they can take away all of Martin’s business. If Martin chooses not use the money to innovate, he will lose money in the long run.
Would the newer version of Daraprim be made out of greed? Probably, and who cares. Incentive is the number one tool for innovation. It is because of greed that new and improved versions of drugs come out. It is because of greed that treatments for rare diseases such as toxoplasmosis, are being innovated.
If we left the state to research and cure disease, what disease would we cure first? Would emphasis be put on one drug, while patients with diseases such as toxoplasmosis are left in the dark? The state does not have infinite resources, it would be impossible to search for cures and treatments of every disease. However, in the free market, cures and treatments to almost all diseases are researched. Why? Because there is incentive and money involved.
What happens if the state did in fact decide to seize the production and research of medicine? People would not be doctors anymore. Doctors in Cuba (public) make less money than taxi drivers (private). Most people undergo 8+ years of intense studying in college, not just because they want to help people (although it may be part of reason), but because they want to live comfortable lives. The doctor wants my money, and as a result he provides me a service for it.
Who cares if the doctor saves lives to make money? He is still saving lives. It is better to have a neutral intention and good outcome than to have a good intention and bad outcome. Actions speak louder than words or intentions. People making good money, for a necessary and vital service, is not something we should complain about.