Who Should Do Drug Research?

by Elaine Schwartz    •    Jan 26, 2011    •    572 Views

Yes or No? Government should pay for high school education? A court system? Roads? Lighthouses? Drug research?

In his blog, Mike Mandel disagrees with spending plans for the National Institutes of Health. As described by the NY Times, a National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences will be established because the private sector has not been creating enough new drugs. The Center’s mission will be to do the basic research that a private firm could then take over and commercialize. Mandel says that government instead should create incentives that encourage private sector innovation. One suggestion is to make the drug approval process less expensive. 

The Economic Lesson

What are your criteria for government’s economic role? You could create a “continuum.” At one end would be the belief that government should only fund “public goods” that, as defined in a Planet Money podcast, are things, “…that we all need that will make our lives better, but the market will not and cannot provide.” At the other end, you could say that government has vast spending responsibilities for all things that improve our lives. Where is your “dot” on this scale?

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