Re: capitalist religion (was: NANO: _Forbes_ cover story)

From: Anders Sandberg (
Date: Tue Jul 17 2001 - 06:26:36 MDT

On Tue, Jul 17, 2001 at 10:11:10PM +1000, Miriam English wrote:
> At 08:43 AM 17/07/2001 +0200, Anders Sandberg wrote:
> >Does it? If I was a pharmaceutical company I would love to sell a cure
> >for a disease while everybody else was saying palliatives. What would
> >doctors, insurance companies and patients want to buy? And if I could
> >sell a prevention, I would be even happier - a much larger market, and
> >hence even larger profit margin.
> It feels like that is how it should work doesn't it?
> That makes great sense to me. I am sure that with the billions of people on
> the planet and new diseases guaranteed to rear their heads regularly that
> would be the best thing to do.
> Even more the pity they don't. :-(

Ever heard of Losec? Exactly why was that a huge commercial success for
Astra, if they could have gone on selling palliatives for ulcers instead?
Now the market for ulcer treatments is much smaller.
You are likely thinking of why so little is spent on malaria vaccines and
cures for other tropical diseases. That is a real problem, but the issue
isn't that cures are unprofitable (they aren't) but that it is hard to make
any profit commensurable with the investment in the current regulatory
climate. The base costs of pharmaceutical development are high, and if you
try to get FDA approval or something like it they will be even greater.
That will make the potential market in the developing countries small, and
given the latest anti-patent moves on pharmaceuticals you might end up
funding competitors instead. If you just sell something less well tested
cheaply or do the tests in the developing nations you will be crucified in
the media as a ruthless profiteer exploiting the poor. It is a lose-lose
situation which any sensible corporation will try to stay out from, leaving
it to far less well funded organisations. Too bad.

> I just hope you become head of a huge medical corporation Anders. The world
> benefit enormously. It would do capitalism's cause a great service.

Thanks. I'll try that after solving the problem of memory and turning
transhumanism into the next big thing (only half joking :-).

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y

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