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Market Failure - drug resistant pneumonia infesting Europe

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aervew Posted: Fri, Nov 18 2011 10:42 AM

 

Market Failure - drug resistant pneumonia infesting Europe
 
http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/251420/20111117/europe-grip-drug-resistant-superbugs.htm
 
It seems overly loose free market policies of allowing antibacterials in soaps and farm animals have caused the last resort drug to become inefficient in 50% of cases
 
"In general what you see is that high resistance goes hand in hand with high consumption,"  Meaning the typical capitalist model of mass production is unviable for these drugs, making investment unprofitable and creating market failure in development of these drugs.
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Autolykos replied on Fri, Nov 18 2011 10:44 AM

Substantiate.

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limitgov replied on Fri, Nov 18 2011 11:07 AM

drug resistance to what drugs?

what type of bug?

most farm animals that are full of bacteria and antibiotics are a result of feeding those animals gmo corn products.

the reason they are feeding them gmo corn products instead of whatever food they normally eat, is because the gov. corn subsidies make it super cheap.

that's gov. fault.

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Clayton replied on Fri, Nov 18 2011 11:42 AM

What a happy coincidence for the government's CDC that the market has created a superbug that only the government's CDC can stop!

This is, of course, not over-dramatization (swine flu?) and armchair economics (how the hell do biologists know that it's "the market" and "consumption" that are to blame???)

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Wheylous replied on Sat, Nov 19 2011 10:01 AM

I'm pretty positive that government would have made the same mistake...

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My Buddy replied on Sat, Nov 19 2011 10:20 AM

We have the same problem in Canada, actually, and it's primarily government caused.

Specifically, superbugs generally arise in HOSPITALS which are overzealous in keeping things sterile, leading to the remaining bugs spreading from the hospitals to the general population. The prime example of this would be C. Difficile, which was recently a problem in the Niagara area.

Hospitals, keep in mind, are all owned by the government (in Canada, and overwhelmingly so if not entirely so in the US), and because Hospitals are the biggest place where superbugs arise, the government is at fault for not reducing the risk by decentralizing the hospital system to private owners so that methods to prevent this could be tried.

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As if there was a government solution for superbugs. 

 

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Clayton replied on Sun, Nov 20 2011 1:17 PM

The government solution to superbugs is Superman, of course! Faster than a bullet, stronger than a steaming locomotive! He'll knock those superbugs straight out!

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Marko replied on Sun, Nov 20 2011 5:14 PM

Thats interesting because after the defense industry there is no industry more in bed with the government than Big Pharma. For how long now have libertarians been saying it is resulting in rampant overmedication?

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Student replied on Sat, Dec 17 2011 12:01 AM

To the extent your post turns out to be true (I don't know how one attributes the sources of resistance) this sounds EXACTLY like  market failure, not a government one.

The government doesn't force people to be germ-a-phobes. In fact, selling products that appeal to our "germ awareness" seems like a pretty profitable enterprise. As I recall, it was Lysol that created the no-touch soup dispenser--the one where you don't have to get your hands dirty getting soap...before you wash them--not the CDC.

http://www.amazon.com/Lysol-No-Touch-System-Dispenser-Refill/dp/B0035HIGGA

I'm not trying to make it sound like Lysol or anyone else is  villain. At the individual level it prob makes sense to use anti-bacterial products to protect yourself from disease. The problems comes when every one starts using them. Or at least that's what doctors think. But you know how "scientists" are.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2631814/

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Yes the government should've regulated the market by making sure that no one uses anti-bacterial products in the hospital or anywhere else. Infections are the solution. 

 

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krazy kaju replied on Sat, Dec 17 2011 12:58 AM

This isn't a market failure at all - people have to use antibiotics in order to fight infections. In the course of things, eventually "superbugs" develop that are resistance to those antibiotics. The alternative is to allow a whole lot more infections, death, and lost time from work/etc. in order to prevent "superbugs" from arising every once in a while.

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The problems comes when every one starts using them. Or at least that's what doctors think.

Right it is the same concept as a misusing /  not taking all of ones antibiotics - and the reason why hospitals have some of the strongest bacteria.

That said: as a medic who knows his fair share of medics, nurses, doctors, pharmacists, reps, etc if you want to hear someone go on about something bring up antibacterial soap to someone in the health industry.  Everyone says something different about it and everyone likes to talk about it.  It's just one of those things - kind of like latex.  It's kind of funny

"As in a kaleidoscope, the constellation of forces operating in the system as a whole is ever changing." - Ludwig Lachmann

"When A Man Dies A World Goes Out of Existence"  - GLS Shackle

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Student replied on Sat, Dec 17 2011 1:09 AM

Yes the government should've regulated the market by making sure that no one uses anti-bacterial products in the hospital or anywhere else. Infections are the solution.

your opinions sound more reasonable when you frame a discussion as being only a choice between two extremes. Thank you for doing so. :)

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Another problem with this whole "antibiotics are a market failure" idea is that individuals do face costs when they use antibiotics - they wipe out your gut flora, worsen your digestive tract, can actually weaken your immune system, etc. So this picture that some paint of everyone using antibiotics at all times is simply silly. The costs of using an antibiotic for any and every minor infection or sickness outweigh the benefits. It only makes sense to use an antibiotic when you really need it.

And btw, Student, don't confuse antibiotic with antibacterial. Lysol is antibacterial but not antibiotic. Bacteria can't become resistant to lysol, so using it frequently won't cause any superbugs to develop.

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Student replied on Sat, Dec 17 2011 1:22 AM

Kaju,

I wasn't. I was talking explicitly about the antibacterial products because that is what was mentioned in the OP. The paper I linked from Emergent Infectious Disease also dealt exclusively on anti-bacterial products and the selective pressures they exert in creating bacteria resistent to antibiotics along with other health concerns. From the abstract:

Scientists are concerned that the antibacterial agents will select bacteria resistant to them and cross-resistant to antibiotics. Moreover, if they alter a person's microflora, they may negatively affect the normal maturation of the T helper cell response of the immune system to commensal flora antigens; this change could lead to a greater chance of allergies in children. As with antibiotics, prudent use of these products is urged.

 

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Ohhh, I see. That's actually quite interesting. Are their many strains of bacteria cross-resistant to antibacterials and antibiotics?

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Wheylous replied on Sat, Dec 17 2011 10:42 AM

Can we at least attribute the lack of scientific improvement for hundreds of years to oppressive states and a lack of property rights? ;)

It seems like a good economy earlier on would have spurred medical innovation that might have surpassed antibiotics.

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Merlin replied on Mon, Dec 19 2011 3:23 PM

 

As I wrote in another thread that ran along these lines, this is evolution in progress for you. If the free market is to ‘blame’ for the emergence of drug-resistant bacteria/viruses, I would only see that as a long-run positive loop.

Ask the Native Americans  whether, in retrospect, they would have liked to have come in contact with some flu a couple of centuries before the Spaniard arrived. 

The Regression theorem is a memetic equivalent of the Theory of Evolution. To say that the former precludes the free emergence of fiat currencies makes no more sense that to hold that the latter precludes the natural emergence of multicellular organisms.
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This is not a market failure it is a failure of synthetic chemicals and the ability of bacteria to adapt. We have seen the same sort of thing occur in pesticides for farming crops. Resistance and tolerance is found in many types of species with regards to chemical consumption and its effects. this very mechanism could even be considered to be one of the primary factors of evolution, the ability of an organism to adapt to survive. Going from humans to crops to bacteria. Not a market failure.

While there are many problems with the pharma industry or the private legal drug industry. The problem of bacterial drug resistance is not one of main problems in my opinion. The problems of drug resistance however can be traced back to other sources or problems before the pharma industry.

We have a serious problem in the UK with hospital infections, MRSA etc. This is within the government hospitals, i may add. However in my opinion the problem with the high increase in hospital infections is caused by several factors in the UK. Firstly the GPs opening times are very short, so people are forced too go to the hospital for basic flu and colds. It is difficult to get an appointment at the GP even when they are open, thus forcing people to go to the hospital in cases which could have been handled by the GP. When they do go to the hospital all patients sit in the same waiting room, this encourages transferral. Then there is the problem of sick visitors and that patients have to share a room with six people and share space with potentially sick visitors.

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Wheylous replied on Mon, Dec 19 2011 3:45 PM

Merlin, you're suggesting that expoosure to stronger bacteria drives innovation/prevents future catastrophe?

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Merlin replied on Mon, Dec 19 2011 4:05 PM

Wheylous:

Merlin, you're suggesting that expoosure to stronger bacteria drives innovation/prevents future catastrophe?

 

 

I think this is very clear from the historical record that evolutive pressures, as long as they are not overwhelming but steadily increasing, are among the most precious treasures of any human group. To have gained the upper hand in a ‘fight’ with evolved bacteria is among those things that just cannto be replicated by other groups.

Now, I say it would be very interesting to study how a free market can, if indeed it can, help to adjust such pressures to their optimal level. This would be an example of two spontaneous orders (evolution and a market society) influencing each-other, perhaps even optimizing each-other. Fascinating stuff if you ask me. 

 

The Regression theorem is a memetic equivalent of the Theory of Evolution. To say that the former precludes the free emergence of fiat currencies makes no more sense that to hold that the latter precludes the natural emergence of multicellular organisms.
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Wheylous replied on Mon, Dec 19 2011 4:15 PM

Evolution vs. Free markets certainly is exciting as both are very complex models that select for some fitness and seek to progress to less unstable states (less likely to die before passing on offspring).

Each side has its advantages:

Evolution:

- Trillions of organisms going at it constantly

- Random mutations might beat any good guess

Free market:

- Directed progress (improve in this specific way)

- Human intelligence may be able to make large leaps to exit local optima

- Shorter time frames for macro adaptation (while bacteria can change quickly, the dodo bird can't. Because it would take at least several generations for it to change, it died due to sharp shocks).

 

The fight humans have left to fight (besides themselves, I suppose, but that can likely be solved) is against microorganisms. I see this as a fight that we will win within the next 150 years. Since there have not been any organisms that exist below the molecular level, we will probably have conquered our potential predators.

 

Edit: If we could improve the lot of humans themselves economically, it would likely lead to large strides for science as stability allows for the luxury of looking at tiny things.

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Merlin replied on Mon, Dec 19 2011 4:27 PM

Wheylous:

 

The fight humans have left to fight (besides themselves, I suppose, but that can likely be solved) is against microorganisms. I see this as a fight that we will win within the next 150 years. Since there have not been any organisms that exist below the molecular level, we will probably have conquered our potential predators.

 

I hope we don’t succeed 100% in that (nor do I think we can). We could easily put an end, or greatly impoverish, our own physical development. But again, who knows such things. 

The Regression theorem is a memetic equivalent of the Theory of Evolution. To say that the former precludes the free emergence of fiat currencies makes no more sense that to hold that the latter precludes the natural emergence of multicellular organisms.
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Autolykos replied on Mon, Dec 19 2011 6:30 PM

Student:
To the extent your post turns out to be true (I don't know how one attributes the sources of resistance) this sounds EXACTLY like  market failure, not a government one.

The government doesn't force people to be germ-a-phobes. In fact, selling products that appeal to our "germ awareness" seems like a pretty profitable enterprise. As I recall, it was Lysol that created the no-touch soup dispenser--the one where you don't have to get your hands dirty getting soap...before you wash them--not the CDC.

http://www.amazon.com/Lysol-No-Touch-System-Dispenser-Refill/dp/B0035HIGGA

I'm not trying to make it sound like Lysol or anyone else is  villain. At the individual level it prob makes sense to use anti-bacterial products to protect yourself from disease. The problems comes when every one starts using them. Or at least that's what doctors think. But you know how "scientists" are.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2631814/

The only way the notion of "market failure" makes sense to me is in the sense of just being another way to express the notion that human beings - either individually or collectively - are neither omniscient nor omnipotent. If that's what you're getting at here, I'll agree with you. But then I'll ask, "So what?" Otherwise, if you're saying that the government would've handled things "better", I'll ask you to please explain yourself.

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Wheylous replied on Mon, Dec 19 2011 7:23 PM

I am unconvinced that government wouldn't have pushed products that appeal to our germ awareness.

After all, it still peddles its terrible nutrition pyramid.

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MadMiser replied on Tue, Dec 20 2011 4:05 AM

It could actually be argued that this is a positive externality, in the long term (as any notion of 'market failure' requires the arbitrary adoption of lower time-preferences than market participants - since consumer action can never be a 'failure' if looked at in terms of their own individual preferences - so why not adopt an extremely low time preference for analysis?) Because, modern medicine, capitalism etc alters the biological selection process so that it no longer selects for healthy genes, by allowing more unhealthy people to survive and pass down their genes than would have been possible in times past. This ultimately 'weakens' the gene pool. However, if a disease that is immune to antibiotics and modern medicine comes along, it would kill the people with weaker immune systems, leaving only those with 'stronger' immune systems to have offspring and propagate their genes, and thereby ensuring the human race faced continual selection pressures for healthy genes and immune systems :P

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