NRO: The Profit Motive Saves Lives

The writer of this piece makes a good point, one too often slighted: The benefits that for-profit free markets predictably produce far outweigh any losses to the general welfare.

9 thoughts on “NRO: The Profit Motive Saves Lives

  1. No reason profits can’t be made and still help those who can’t afford the treatments.

    The taxpayers already fund about 1/3rd of research used for pharmaceutical innovation. Might be more if we consider the basic research which is rarely funded by investors because it has little or no immediate uses.

    Per a link from your article:

    “A former R&D executive with a big pharma company believes industry consolidation has had a “devastating” effect on pharmaceutical research projects because of the capital required to finance mergers and acquisitions. John L. LaMattina, former president of Pfizer Global Research and Development, wrote in an August 2011 Nature Reviews commentary, “In major mergers today, not only are R&D cuts made, but entire research sites are eliminated.”

    Maybe a little less merger and acquisition and more R&D would be helpful.

    So, yes, profit spurs innovation. Nothing new there. But unlike inventing a better toaster, saving lives or even improving them can be spread among all with a bit of effort.

    Look at it as paying forward the taxpayer funded research that Big Pharma benefits from.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. RE: “Maybe a little less merger and acquisition and more R&D would be helpful.”

      That’s a nice way to miss the point, which is that profit seeking free markets reliably serve the general welfare, despite examples of specific benefits which don’t materialize.

      Why do you feel it necessary to bite the unseen hand that feeds you?


      1. RE: “I didn’t bite anything.”

        Got it: You really didn’t mean to say that profit-seeking free markets don’t save enough lives.

        It is good you didn’t mean to say that, because the argument to prove that the good of lives saved is insufficient is very difficult to make, especially when the evidence of exploitation, greed and market failure are ruled out by the data set.


  2. I would agree… if all of the costs of production were truly borne by the profiteer, if the market were “fair” to all comers and if I happen to enjoy riding in a Model T.

    Liked by 1 person

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