Medical Innovation in the USA

Robert Waldmann

Kevin Drum writes

Conor Friedersdorf has three reasons he doesn’t think he’ll be able to support any of the progressive healthcare reforms currently on tap.

Argument #3:

I keep seeing the argument that America is the leading health care innovator, and that if our system looks more like what Europe has, there won’t be anyone left making strides in research and development. I haven’t seen a convincing rebuttal, though there may well be one. Links?

NIH is a 3 letter response to argument number 3. The USA does not just spend huge amounts on health care, it also spends huge amounts on investigator initiated peer reviewed grants.

The budget of the National Institutes of Health is similar to the combined R&D budgets of all pharmaceutical companies in the USA. The US public sector spends huge amounts of money funding medical research.

The NIH budget is just gigantic compared to all other sources of funding for independent scientific research (except maybe the DARPA budget which is spent on top secret research & development so I don’t have much to transmit about its contribution to total research along the internet AKA grandson of ARPAnet). It dwarfs the NSF budget (much of which goes to biology too) and makes researchers around the world drool with envy.

Claiming that US leadership medical innovation proves the superiority of the private sector to the public sector is like claiming that US leadership in flights to the moon shows the superiority of the private sector to the public sector.