Michelle Holmes, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, has been trying for years to raise money for trials on the effects of aspirin on breast cancer. There is good evidence to suggest that aspirin might help inhibit breast cancer from spreading.
But Big Pharma has no interest in paying for clinical trials. Because even if they showed the expected positive results, aspirin is a cheap generic drug and there is no way that they could recoup their investment. Instead Big Pharma “is betting on new blockbuster cancer drugs that cost billions to develop and can be sold for thousands of dollars a dose.” Which works for Big Pharma, but is more expensive for cancer patients, 65% of whom are in developing countries.
The way we have set up the rules for money, for business, for the economy, is giving us results that are clearly sub-optimal for human society as a whole.
If we could find low cost treatments for cancer, more lives would be saved, at lower cost, resulting in a net increase in the quality and length of human life. And, for those who see things purely in economic terms, those lives would be able to make greater contribution to the economy.
But because of the way we have defined our own rules, that is not going to happen.
We need a sector of society that can operate effectively, outside purely business terms.
We need to recognise that life, and votes, are about more than just “the economy, stupid”.