Whenever you get grief for criticizing capitalism, point those giving you said grief to this story, because it perfectly describes capitalism’s grave shortcomings with just the question asked in the headline:
“Is curing patients a sustainable business model?”
The story is about a Goldman Sachs analysis of what smug media types would refer to as “the biotech space” (apparently “space” is the new hip synonym for a type of business or area of study and is meant to sound both less redneck than “field” and less corporate than “industry” yet somehow manages to just sound…um, spacey). Here’s a quote from the Goldman report:
“The potential to deliver ‘one shot cures’ is one of the most attractive aspects of gene therapy, genetically-engineered cell therapy and gene editing. However, such treatments offer a very different outlook with regard to recurring revenue versus chronic therapies,” analyst Salveen Richter wrote in the note to clients Tuesday. “While this proposition carries tremendous value for patients and society, it could represent a challenge for genome medicine developers looking for sustained cash flow.”
And there it is in black and white: “recurring revenue” and “sustained cash flow” are going to be a “challenge” with “a very different outlook” if biotech companies go around healing everybody. That is to say that, while most of us plebs think that the point of discovering new technologies is to cure disease, The Financial System™ thinks that the point of new technologies is to empty our pockets, which is going to be impossible unless people have diseases. After all, if people aren’t sick, how can biotech companies sell their medicine? There may be some hope yet for extracting more profit, the Goldman report avers:
“Solution 1: Address large markets: Hemophilia is a $9-10bn WW market (hemophilia A, B), growing at ~6-7% annually.”
“Solution 2: Address disorders with high incidence: Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) affects the cells (neurons) in the spinal cord, impacting the ability to walk, eat, or breathe.”
“Solution 3: Constant innovation and portfolio expansion: There are hundreds of inherited retinal diseases (genetics forms of blindness) … Pace of innovation will also play a role as future programs can offset the declining revenue trajectory of prior assets.”
Therein lies one of the greatest paradoxes of capitalism–it is claimed to be a system that meets people’s needs in the most efficient manner possible, but in order to do that, capitalism requires needy people. The sacrosanct profit motive can only be motivating if there are people to profit from, so capitalism’s incentives are misdirected into making money rather than actually helping people. In other words, capitalism is not the cure, it is the disease. It is easy to imagine capitalists curing all known diseases, then creating more diseases for the sole purpose of being able to sell more treatments/cures. This is exactly why “capitalism” is inferior to “socialism”: capitalism serves capital and serving society is secondary where as socialism serves social beings while serving capital is secondary.
Another way of saying….
Capitalism is psychopathic by nature. The very structure is PROFITS over everything else.
It appears to me that every problem we are facing today is… A business decision.
Hopefully bringing this to light will allow U.S. to make more informed decisions as to the type of world we want to live in.