Thursday, March 22, 2012

Savings Lives Doesn’t Count If There’s No Profit!

Another example of the failure of American-style capitalism appeared recently in a New York Times report.  There is a generic drug, transexamic acid, which was shown in a large multi-country trial in 2010 to save the lives of hemorrhaging trauma patients by slowing their bleeding.

The British and American armies began using the drug immediately with great success, saving lives of badly injured soldiers.  It is used in British hospitals and is carried in British ambulances.

The drug could save an estimated 4,000 lives in the United States each year  … victims of car crashes, stabbings, and shootings. Yet American hospitals have been “slow” to begin using it.

Why? The drug is cheap.  So cheap that there is little profit in it for its manufacturer, and so it has not marketed the drug, hasn’t pushed it. And if a pharmaceutical company doesn’t push a drug, it doesn’t get used.

Finally, however, hospitals in several cities are now “debating” its use. But in most others, it is not being considered.

This is a scandal and yet another indictment of American-style capitalism. There’s nothing wrong with making a profit. But profit should never be a factor when it comes to providing health care.

If everyone in the health care field … from drug manufacturers to hospitals to doctors groups … were by law required to be not-for-profit organizations, we would not have many of the types of problems that we have with health care in the United States. 

To those who will say that taking away the profit incentive would negatively impact innovation, I say, “nonsense.” Three reasons. First, the people inventing drugs or delivering services do so because they are motivated and have professional pride. Second, drug companies would continue to innovate because new products and increased sales leads to greater security for its labor force. Third, it might actually increase innovation because a drug would not be deep-sixed because it wasn’t going to be sufficiently profitable.

Taking the profit motive out of American health care would more than likely greatly improve the entire system and the quality of care Americans receive, which contrary to the posturing of some politicians is consistently shown in international studies to rank rather low compared to the other industrialized countries.