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At the heart of the pharmaceutical industry lies a paradox: Devoted to helping people get well, the drug industry depends on patients staying sick. Clayton Dalton, a resident at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, traces the economic forces that influence research and treatment choices for chronic disease. For anyone interested in the business of health and disease, getAbstract recommends Dalton’s analysis of the interactions of money and medicine.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How economic incentives distort medical research and treatment,

  • How the paradigm for pharmaceutical production emerged, and

  • How some organizations are supporting research and treatment apart from economic incentives.

 

About the Author

Clayton Dalton is a medical resident at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. 

 

Summary

Most of the world’s drug development happens in market economies, where financial incentives distort choices about where to spend research dollars. In April 2018, for example, a Goldman Sachs report advised companies in the drug and biotech industries to avoid investments in medicines that cure disease. Drug companies profit more from drugs that only control conditions, so that patients have to take the drugs for the rest of their lives. Legislation can modify financial incentives and thereby redirect investments in medical research and treatment. In one example, the 1982 Orphan Drug Act created an incentive for the drug industry to find treatments for orphan diseases – rare conditions that had been neglected prior to the law. This law has fostered rapid growth in the orphan drug market and yielded immense profits for orphan drug makers. As a result, the comparatively few people with rare diseases benefit, but more common diseases garner less research attention and funds.


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