Global Health Altruism Needs To Be Supported By Appropriate Subsidies, Incentives For Innovation

Forbes: Global Health: Who Should Pay for Your Altruism?
Anumpam Jena, assistant professor of health care policy and medicine at Harvard Medical School and internist at Massachusetts General Hospital; and Tomas Philipson, Daniel Levin Chair in Public Policy at the University of Chicago and director of the Becker Friedman Institute’s health care research program

“…[A]ltruistic provision of health care, like all ‘public goods,’ is under-provided relative to its value. Rather than policies aimed at reducing prices for treatments, which place all the financing burden on innovators and reduce the incentive for innovation, policies should aim to subsidize HIV treatment in the developing world. If we desire poor countries to receive new treatments, shareholders of innovative companies should not be asked to foot the entire bill of our altruistic desires. … Therefore, innovation into developing world diseases should be stimulated rather than, as currently done, discouraged by global health policy. An ideal system has the altruism of rich countries reflected in subsidies for care. These subsidies can then provide rewards, rather than punishments, for innovations that fulfill the world’s altruistic needs” (6/4).