Law and Order's Economics
By David Henderson
My student, Mike Williams, sent me the following last night:
I don’t know if you watch Law and Order Special Victims Unit but they had a rather frustrating take on the pharmacutical companies tonight.
In the episode one of their witnesses to a crime was suffering from heroin withdrawals. The doctor told the cops that he had to put the witness on methadone to help compensate for the withdrawal symptoms. But, he said, there was a better drug out there that could cure him of his heroin addiction, had side effects that were smaller than methadone, was in pill form (methadone apparently is administrated via IV), etc. Basically it was a wonder drug (can’t remember what they called it).
So of course the cops ask the doctor why he is not using it and the doctor explains that the patent for this new drug has run out and since the FDA has not approved it yet no drug company is willing to run it thru the FDA trials to get it certified in the United States because they will not be able to make any money off it. Of course the cops start bad mouthing the “evil” drug companies and their lack of morals.
What I found interesting is no one bad mouthed the FDA: the true culprit in this “crime.” I was hoping (yes it was a slight hope but still a hope) that the cops would have discussed the fact that the FDA is keeping the miracle drug off the shelves in the United States thru its arcane regulations and testing requirements. Instead the cops bad mouthed drug companies making profit over helping people out. To take the cop logic to its conclusion (at least from my point of view), I would have loved it if the cops had then looked at themselves and decided that they were making a “profit” off their cop salaries, sat down and calculated out exactly how much they needed to sustain themselves every month, and then decided to return that salary back to the City so that the City could use it to help people out in other ways.
Sir, it always amazes me when people attack profit like it is a bad thing.
Just thought I would let you know economics is not a strong point among the writers of Law and Order.