Critical Condition: Innovation

At National Review Online's Critical Condition blog, I have a long post explaining why imposing price controls on Medicare Part D in the name of deficit reduction will lead to less innovation and fewer American jobs:

Cost cutting would come in the form of laying off workers (or reducing pay and benefits), sending more jobs and manufacturing facilities to low-cost countries abroad, or reducing investment in discovering new medicines. None of these responses should count as a winner for the U.S. economy. One recent study found that the president's proposal could reduce direct and indirect employment in the pharmaceutical industry by up to 238,000 jobs by 2021.

Reducing research-and-development spending might seem like a clear "winner" for the supercommittee, since fewer expensive new drugs would come on the market. The government's drug tab would decline rapidly (aided by the expiration of existing drug patents), but as the U.S. population aged and more people became afflicted by cancer, Alzheimer's, and other expensive chronic illnesses, we'd just spend more money on hospital care and physician care -- actually increasing overall health-care spending. (Economist Frank Lichtenberg estimates that for every $1 that Medicare spends on newer medicines, it saves about $6 in other health-care costs, mainly from reduced hospital costs.)

As they say, check out the whole thing.

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