Thursday, September 4, 2008

Ideas that Kill

The other day, a guy came up to me as I was speaking with a local candidate. (He wasn't coming to to speak with me.) In the opening salvo he made the statement that everyone wants universal health care. I shot back, "I don't." The guy didn't know what to say.

Socialized medicine sounds good, particularly to people who pay, as my church does, $7000 per person for medical coverage. But it's really a deadly idea. Socialized medicine would kill the drug development pipeline. Let's take one new drug - PTC 124. (I'm sure it will soon have a more exciting name.) This drug, more or less, turns off something called mis-sense mutations. This would be an defacto cure, at least as long as someone was taking the drug, for 70% of Cystic Fibrosis patients, a number Hemophilia patients, a certain percentage of Muscular Dystrophy patients, and so forth. Literally dozens of medical conditions will benefit from this revolutionary drug. It's about 2 years from final approval, but all indications are that it is both safe and effective. In socialized medicine, new drugs are often not covered for several years. The bureaucracy will always lag behind. In some cases, because a drug is very expensive, it may never be approved for coverage. In addition, many times, laws are put into place preventing people from seeking their own care at their own expense. So even if we could get the drug someplace, regulations would prevent people from getting it. Further, since the bureaucracy would control prices, it would become impossible for a corporation to recoup the millions if not billions of dollars it takes to develop a new drug. So companies will simply halt all trials and research.

Nor should we see this as simply a political or social issue. It's a religious issue as well. The Seventh Commandment (Thou shalt not steal) teaches us each person has the right to the fruit of their labor. A corporation is a legal person and many of the same moral laws apply. So when a corporation invests in developing a new drug, which includes a great deal of risk, they have a moral right to the fruit of their labor. Socialized medicine would steal the fruit their labor from the drug companies. This makes it also a moral and religious issue as well.

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