Ben Domenech is a conservative and founder of RedState. He opposes health reform. And yet even he finds ridiculous Megan McArdle's argument that Big Pharma is the only entity capable of producing medical innovation. He writes:

Working at the Department of Health and Human Services provided me the opportunity to learn a good deal about the workings of the NIH, and I happen to have multiple friends who still work there — and their shocked reaction to McArdle’s description was stronger than mine, to say the least.

“McArdle clearly doesn’t understand what she’s writing about,” one former NIH colleague said today. “Where does she think Nobel prize winners in biomedical research originate, academic researchers or in Pharma? Our academic researchers run clinical trials and develop drugs. I’m not trying to talk down Pharma, which I’m a big fan of, but I don’t think anyone in the field could read what she wrote without laughing.” ...

The truth, as anyone knowledgeable within the system will tell you, is that private companies just don’t do basic research. They do productization research, and only for well-known medical conditions that have a lot of commercial value to solve. The government funds nearly everything else, whether it’s done by government scientists or by academic scientists whose work is funded overwhelmingly by government grants.

It’s just simple math: if you have a condition that has a relatively small number of patients, there’s just no market incentive to sink a great deal of time and money into researching it. This is why you’ll usually find that 100% — not a majority, the entirety — of the research into a cure is done either via taxpayer-funded grants to academic researchers or, more frequently, it’s entirely found on the NIH campus.

Organ transplantation? Just about 100% is funded by NIH. Low prevalence cancers, or cancers with low survival rates? Just about 100% of all three phases is funded by NIH. You start to understand how this works.

Read the whole thing.

--Dana Goldstein

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