Last week the Galen Institute, a DC-based healthcare thinktank, held a conference on Intelligent Health. That is, the use of new technology to personalize, and thus improve, healthcare.
The single most startling revelation, was this chart, above, showing the real crisis of American healthcare. It's from Dr. Arthur Krieg, MD, of Pfizer, and it shows how Pharma spending has soared, while Pharma productivity has fallen. That is, the amount of money spent on R&D by the Pharma companies has more than tripled since 1996, while the number of New Molecular Entities--that is, drugs--approved by the FDA has plummeted from 54 in 1996 to 19 in 2009. So put it another way, expenditures have more than tripled, while output has fallen by two-thirds. That's the real crisis. Insurance that entitles you to go to the doctor matters a lot less than effective treatment once you get to the doctor.
What are the reasons for this falloff in productivity? That's a source of great controversy, and we will take that up in future posts. But all we know, now, is this: If the pipeline of drugs is choked off, our prospects for longer and better life, too, are choked off.