Prize Turkey

  • by: |
  • 11/14/2007
John Edwards must know something -- like his campaign is dying. Why else would he decide to jump on the bandwagon of Bernie Sanders (the Senator from Ben & Jerry's) and come out in support of the year's worst idea in health care reform -- prizes rather than patents.

Here's what Senator Edwards had to say to a group of medical professionals at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center on the subject of prizes for pharmaceutical innovation:

"It would also create a different dynamic for drug companies and particularly for breakthrough drugs in big areas like Alzheimer’s, cancer, etc. We’d offer a cash prize for the research and development of these drugs, but they don’t get a patent. So we eliminate the monopoly…The idea is you’ve got to give the financial incentive for the companies to do it but on the flip side you get the products to the market quicker, available quickly and at a much lower cost.”

Okay -- once more with feeling -- this is just not true. As Joe DiMasi (Tufts University) and Henry Grabowski (Duke University) have argued, under a prize program, pharmaceutical innovators would lack the incentive to innovate. To quote DiMasi and Grabowski, “The dynamic benefits created by patents on pharmaceuticals can, and almost surely do, swamp in significance their short-run inefficiencies.”

For more reasons this is a crackpot idea see our October 22nd blog entry ("Et tu, Bernie") here:

Note to Senator Edwards: You should look into how much money is currently being spent by the biopharmaceutical industry on Alzheimer's research and development. (We assume you have already done so on the issue of breast cancer.)

Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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