by Dan Mitchell
I’ve authored a five-part series about coronavirus and the failure of big government (here, here, here, here, and here), as well as columns specifically highlighting the failures of the FDA, CDC, and WHO bureaucracies.
Today, let’s look at how free enterprise came to the rescue when government barriers were reduced. Starting with this video.
To elaborate on this message, millions of lives are now being saved because pharmaceutical companies have produced multiple vaccines.
Will this save my life? I like to think I’m reasonably healthy and would have survived if I caught the virus, but I’m very happy to now put that possibility in the rear-view mirror.
So I’m feeling very happy that I live in a nation where private companies, in their pursuit of profits, have had a big incentive to produce vaccines.
Yes, I realize the government dumped a bunch of taxpayer money into vaccine production, so I don’t want to pretend Uncle Sam played no role. But I also have great faith that the profit motive would have led to vaccines being developed regardless.
And we would have had the vaccines even sooner if the FDA was even better about getting out of the way.
Allysia Finley celebrated capitalism’s key role in a recent column for the Wall Street Journal. Here’s some of what she wrote about the decades of research and investment that enabled pharmaceutical companies to deliver miracles for humanity.
Large corporations are political villains, derided on the left and right. Yet the main, and perhaps only, reason the Covid-19 scourge is easing is vaccines developed by Big Pharma. …There are…lessons for those who think capitalism is merely about rapacious profit. “We would never be in the position where we are today if we had not invested billions of dollars over decades so that we could respond,” Mr. Gorsky, 60, says in an interview…J&J’s vaccine is the third to obtain FDA approval, but preliminary results from trials on AstraZeneca and Novavax suggest they are also highly effective. All these Covid-19 vaccines use innovative technologies that have been developed and tested over decades on other diseases. …The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines inject the virus’s genetic code via mRNA… It seems like an incredible stroke of luck and science that we have so many Covid-19 vaccines so soon. But it’s more than that. Credit years of research and investment by drug makers… “I think this is a golden moment, not only for Johnson & Johnson, but the biopharmaceutical industry,” he says. “We fundamentally believe that having a market-based, innovation-based, biopharmaceutical as well as a medical-technology environment, is critical long term to produce the best overall outcomes for healthcare.”
There are a couple of big lessons for today.
The first lesson, as shown in the video, is that we can save lives by permanently reducing bureaucratic red tape at bureaucracies such as the Food and Drug Administration.
The second lesson is that we should celebrate the profit motive. The desire to make a buck is what drives companies to produce goods and services that make our lives better.
And one takeaway of that second lesson is that we should reject short-sighted policiessuch as European-style price controls on drug companies. Such an approach would undermine our ability to deal with future pandemics and also reduce the likelihood of new and improved treatments for things such as cancer, dementia, and heart disease.
P.S. I like pharmaceutical companies when they are being honest participants in a free market. I don’t like them when they get in bed with big government.