Measuring the Gains from Medical Research: An Economic Approach

University of Chicago Press
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In 1998, health expenditures in the United States accounted for 12.9% of national income-the highest share of income devoted to health in the developed world. The United States also spends more on medical research than any other country-in 2000, the federal government dedicated $18.4 billion to it, compared with only $3.7 billion for the entire European Union. In this book, leading health economists ask whether we are getting our money's worth.

From an economic perspective, they find, the answer is a resounding "yes": in fact, considering the extraordinary value of improvements to health, we may even be spending too little on medical research. The evidence these papers present and the conclusions they reach are both surprising and convincing: that growth in longevity since 1950 has been as valuable as growth in all other forms of consumption combined; that medical advances producing 10% reductions in mortality from cancer and heart disease alone would add roughly $10 trillion-a year's GDP-to the national wealth; or that the average new drug approved by the FDA yields benefits worth many times its cost of development.

The papers in this book are packed with these and many other surprising revelations, their sophisticated analysis persuasively demonstrating the massive economic benefits we can gain from investments in medical research. For anyone concerned about the cost and the value of such research-from policy makers to health care professionals and economists-this will be a landmark book.
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About the author

Kevin M. Murphy is the George J. Stigler Professor of Economics in the Graduate School of Business and the Department of Economics at the University of Chicago. He is coauthor of Social Economics: Market Behavior in a Social Environment.

Robert H. Topel is the Isidore Brown and Gladys J. Brown Professor in Urban and Labor Economics in the Graduate School of Business at the University of Chicago. He is coeditor of The Welfare State in Transition and Labor Market Data and Measurement, both published by the University of Chicago Press.
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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Chicago Press
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Published on
Apr 15, 2010
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Pages
240
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ISBN
9780226551791
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Language
English
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Genres
Business & Economics / General
Medical / General
Medical / Health Care Delivery
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Colleen Derkatch
During the 1990s, an unprecedented number of Americans turned to complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), an umbrella term encompassing chiropractic, energy healing, herbal medicine, homeopathy, meditation, naturopathy, and traditional Chinese medicine. By 1997, nearly half the US population was seeking CAM, spending at least $27 billion out of pocket.

Bounding Biomedicine centers on this boundary-changing era, looking at how consumer demand shook the health care hierarchy. Drawing on scholarship in rhetoric and science and technology studies, the book examines how the medical profession scrambled to maintain its position of privilege and prestige, even as its foothold appeared to be crumbling. Colleen Derkatch analyzes CAM-themed medical journals and related discourse to illustrate how members of the medical establishment applied Western standards of evaluation and peer review to test health practices that did not fit easily (or at all) within standard frameworks of medical research. And she shows that, despite many practitioners’ efforts to eliminate the boundaries between “regular” and “alternative,” this research on CAM and the forms of communication that surrounded it ultimately ended up creating an even greater division between what counts as safe, effective health care and what does not.

At a time when debates over treatment choices have flared up again, Bounding Biomedicine gives us a possible blueprint for understanding how the medical establishment will react to this new era of therapeutic change.
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