KnightExemplar wrote:Yes and no. The current sorry state of the US medical research is almost entirely due to the fact that it is entirely private.
When Big Tobacco funds medical research, then the majority of studies will "prove" that tobacco is fine for you. When Insurance Companies fund research, the majority of studies "prove" that the cheapest solution is in fact the best. When Drug companies fund research, their studies "prove" that their drugs are the best. There is very very little patient centered research in the US right now, and thanks to the Affordable Care Act... we finally have a small portion of taxes going towards funding patient-centered medical research.
Private researchers kill science when it goes against their business model. Do you really trust Big Oil to discover renewable energy?
Fortunately, for things like renewable energy, it is possible for the free market to compete. People believe that renewable energy can be cheaper in the long run, so private industry will probably fund that area just fine. We don't have to rely on big oil to create renewable energy for us. But comparative effectiveness medical research? No entity in the current market actually benefits from the truth. So no one actively seeks it out. So we end up with 50 drugs, all of which are better than a placebo (by FDA mandate, they have to be tested against a placebo...). But... we don't know how those 50 drugs relate to each other. When are certain drugs more effective than other drugs? Americans are utterly behind on that kind of research.
The way you make money in medicine is by selling drugs (or medical devices), or selling insurance. Neither entity can be trusted with improving the field of medicine, because both have a conflict of interest. Neither are interested in improving the patient's experience.
I'm not saying that the research doesn't happen... but what I'm trying to say is that there is no money in finding that information out. It doesn't improve GDP, it doesn't improve investments. It isn't a sustainable growth path for any company. No company actually wants to figure out the most effective drug. (Not that they're sabotaging research efforts... they're just not really trying). So outside of pro-bono work from universities, the work doesn't really get done.
Competition ensures research will be conducted on various sides of the issue. For example, competing pharmaceutical companies will conduct research on competitors' brands to measure the efficacy of their own products relative to their competitors', and maybe to discredit them. Their competitors have a similar incentive to do that research. Health insurance companies have incentive to conduct research showing things like smoking is harmful; much cheaper to pay for research and prevention than to pay for so many cancer patients later on. And so on.
Lucrece wrote:Making research private would be horrible. This garbage is from the Cato Institute for fuck's sake.
What's wrong with the Cato Institute? They were vital in getting DOMA and Prop 8 overturned.
I hate arguments that only useful/profitable outcomes should be a measure for funding projects. Why would sports or performances ever be funded over more "useful" things? Things like art or entertainment may not have tangible value, but they are of immense importance to the well-being of people.
Except industry scientists are funded for pure science/basic research.
some 7 per cent of all industrial R&D worldwide is spent on pure science
NASA's curiosities have ended in amazing introductions to the market. If they didn't fiddle with seemingly "useless" projects a lot of the ideas and results we used to bear something useful later on would have never seen the light of day.
Queue wrote:Full disclosure: I work for a Canadian federal science-based department. My father was a publicly-funded scientist. Bias in favour of publicly-funded science may appear.Arariel wrote:- The increase in government funding of science since the beginning of the Cold War has had no effect on long-run economic growth.
- Private R&D stimulates economic growth, while public R&D might actually crowd out private R&D, having an adverse effect on private growth.
- The nonexcludability excuse (people will 'steal' inventions) fails because copying is very expensive.
- Firms pay researchers to do basic research to establish their credibility in a field.
- Scientists in industry share knowledge in order to build on each others' research.
Problem: Lots of science isn't done for economic growth. Lots of science, in fact, has no economic value whatsoever, sometimes for decades (until we find use) or forever. Money isn't why we do science. It's why some scientists do science, but curiosity is still The Reason. If someone tells you that we should want science to be beneficial, or profitable, or not kill us while we're studying it, or even unlikely to cause the return of Cthulhu, well, we just can't make you that promise.
In perspective, think about what a scientist actually needs: Time, resources, and the ability to get his findings to peer review. None of those things are exclusively available with any body or individual. In fact, I'd argue that the same liability exists with both sides as well - the risk that the person paying for it wants specific results (or doesn't want other specific results).
CorruptUser wrote:We are using the Internet, which was created using government research. The only way the Internet has been "bad" for the economy is piracy, which does prevent markets from efficiently allocating resources to new games, movies, music, etc.
Any developments that benefited the public (even if such effects in the long term) should have been reflected in long-run economic growth. Economic growth isn't some silly measure of how much money people make. It's a measure of standard of living. If the economy grows by 2 per cent per annum (accounting for population) in the long term, it means the standard of living is increasing by 2 per cent per annum. No matter what results of publicly-funded science, if it has no effect on the same economic growth that occurred without it, no departure from the long-run trend, that means we could have experienced the same increase in standard of living with privately-funded science. That could mean that the developments of publicly-funded science either a) did not benefit the greater public or b) would have developed with private funding. Some could fall into a), but many of the developments (e.g., the Internet) probably fall into b).
Angua wrote:Also, good luck ever getting new treatments for malaria, African sleeping sickness, etc while just relying on the private sector. Or even effective treatments for the orphan genetic diseases if thinking about the 3rd world doesn't matter to you.
As mentioned, there's malarone, made by a private company, and then there's quinine, the very first treatment for malaria. As for African sleeping sickness, there's only 30,000 or so people currently infected, and I'd imagine the orphan genetic diseases are even rarer. Yes, it's terrible, but there are much more common diseases (and doesn't starvation alone account for millions of deaths annually?). At any rate, eflornithine is used to treat African sleeping sickness, and that was developed during cancer research, so there's no reason to believe treatments for other diseases couldn't be discovered that way.
Tyndmyr wrote:No impact likely means that if there is a crowding factor, it's a very weak one. There are some limited resources at play, of course...only so many labs, so many scientists, etc...but over the long term, these should adjust to fit the market. Crowding effects should be mostly fixable by
A. Not researching things that the private market is already doing.
B. Keeping public funding fairly constant.
There's also a crowding out effect (or perhaps there's different terminology for this) from government employment of scientists and researchers leaving fewer scientists/researchers for the private sector.
Mmm. Not sure I entirely buy this. Yeah, sure, 65 to 70% of the cost is still a lot, but it's a lot less than 100%. Enough to provide an advantage to a copier. Of course, patent law, etc tries to address this, but it has it's own weaknesses. I don't want to get side tracked into that, but this is sort of a big issue with a lot of complicating factors.
Thesh wrote:My problem with the private sector right now is the patent system is turning into a litigation minefield, meaning that it is getting less and less profitable to develop new technologies. I'm not sure there's a way to fix the litigation problem, other than abolishing patents, but that also makes R&D less profitable. In that case, it seems like government is going to have to back most R&D, which I also don't see as a bad thing in the first place.
Not necessarily. If copying takes 65% of the money and 70% of the time, that's still a significant barrier to entry and length of time for companies to temporarily make monopoly profits while competitors attempt to copy it. Not only that, there's also a first-mover advantage with brand recognition and such. Falling behind competitors in R&D does not bode well for maintaining a customer base, not to mention losing any benefits you might get from the exchange of information that occurs among competitors when you have nothing to exchange. For that reason, with or without patents, research would probably be conducted.
Still, 23%, while a significant minority, is definitely still a minority. Sort of like companies that do open source, actually.
That's 23 per cent of 'important innovations', not 23 per cent of companies. It makes sense that the majority of their innovations came from their own R&D, since they do actually need to develop research before being able to share it. So this isn't so much 23 per cent of companies doing open source, this is more like every company having 23 per cent of its products open source.
Angua wrote:My point is that if you rely solely on private research, it's not going to benefit people who can't pay enough for it.
That's not true at all. For one, R&D typically has to build on other R&D, so while someone might not be able to afford the products of the initial research (think cell phones when they cost thousands of dollars), they definitely benefit from the initial research when other developments make it more affordable. Then there were trains, and even if you couldn't afford a train or to ride on one, you certainly benefited from lower food prices (even if you bought locally, since increased competition would drive their prices down). Or even medical procedures, since an expensive medical procedure could save the doctor some time and result in lower prices and/or more prompt response times to patients.
CorruptUser wrote:Alt medicine shouldnt be allowed to get around the FDA. I'm not sure you should be allowed to tout the health benefits of anything you put in/on your body without FDA approval.
LaserGuy wrote:Somebody has to do the research to show that alt. medicine is crap. Businesses have little-to-no incentive to do this kind of work. They'd rather just sell the stuff.
Everyone with two brain cells already knows it's shit. Unless they're being outright fraudulent in their marketing, if someone wants to dose with a placebo, they can knock themself out. In the meantime, agencies like the National Centre for Complementary and Alternative Medicine should be defunded.