October 24, 2004

How government created the vaccine crisis

Rich Lowry: How government created the vaccine crisis

The problems with flue vaccines this winter is scarry. Not just because a lot of vulnerable people might get the flue. That is scarry. But also because it might be a precursor of "things to come".

There are only 2 manufacturers who make flue vaccine for the US. One company in Britain was shut down by British authorities because of irregularities. At that moment, the amount of flue vaccine available was halved.

In the Rich Lowry's op-ed: How government created the vaccine crisis, Lowry suggests that US government policy has led manufacturers to exit the vaccine market, creating this vulnerability. He also projects what similar policies (like government price controls on drugs) might do to the pharmaceutical industry .

This brings to mind an analogy.

During the cold war, the US spent a higher percentage of its GDP on defense than most other developed countries. The West was protected under a US military umbrella, paid for by the US taxpayer.

The US spends a higher percentage of its GDP on heath care than most other developed countries. Most developed countries have nationalized health programs, where governments negotiate low prices from pharmaceutical manufacturers. These manufacturers can continue to generate profits and innovate because of the prices they can get in the "free" US market. The West, or the world, is protected by a US "pharmaceutical umbrella", paid for by US consumers.

Fair? No. But what will happen if the US tries to control prices and join the "free riders" in Europe, Canada, and the rest of the developed world? Pharmaceutical profits dry up. Innovation stalls. And everyone, everywhere, will have fewer tools to help stay healthy.

BTW, re-importing drugs from Canada will simply lead pharmaceutical manufacturers to treat sales to Canada as sales to Canada plus the US. Canada will loose its bargaining power. Over time, pharmaceutical manufacturers will raise prices in Canada to US levels. US consumers will gain for a while during the transition. But quickly US consumers will be back where they are and Canadian consumers will be buried under price increases.

Posted by georgegmacdonald at 09:48 PM

October 01, 2004

Flicker Test 4, Another Funny Box

Flicker Test 4, Another Funny Box

Posted by georgegmacdonald at 05:32 PM

Test Post through Flickr

Test Post through Flickr

This is a test post through the Flicker service to see how well it works.

The photo is the writing on a box we used during our last move.

Posted by georgegmacdonald at 05:19 PM