Thursday, September 18, 2003


Defending drug companies must be one of the world's least popular activities but I have to say that this story from "Forbes" is another example of blaming the victim. In this case the alleged villain is the drug companies but the real culprit is government. The story tells how a non-profit group is getting funding from Bill Gates to "develop" drugs to treat third-world diseases. The story is that the drug companies will not develop these drugs because there is no profit in it for them. So our heroic altruists step into the breach to give the poor what the heartless capitalistic drug companies deny them.

What is nowhere pointed out explicitly is that these drugs already exist and that the cost of producing them is trivial. The "development" of these drugs consists solely of going through the hoops of getting bureaucratic approval to use them! If you had a law that anybody who needed a drug could get it from a qualified doctor just by signing a waiver to show that he knew that the drug had not been formally approved, all these drugs would rapidly become universally available! No do-gooders would be needed. It is the huge costs of bureacracy that prevent the drug companies from releasing these drugs, nothing else. As usual, government is the problem, not the solution.


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