Dianthus Medical Blog Archive

Index of Economics

Rules are for the little people

One of the most fundamental principles of the ethics of research involving human subjects is that of informed consent. This applies in clinical research and in social science research. If you are going to experiment on people, you need their permission first.

And note the word "informed" in the phrase "informed consent". It's not enough that someone ticks a box on a form: for consent to be ethical, it must be properly informed. The people giving consent to be experimented on must know exactly what they are letting themselves in for.

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Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and taxation

You would have to have been living under a rock somewhere to have missed the news that Pfizer is looking pretty seriously at a takeover of AstraZeneca.

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Care for the elderly

The top story I woke up to on the radio this morning was of allegations of mistreatment of elderly patients at a care home. This seems to be part of a disturbing pattern: mistreatment of the elderly (and other vulnerable people) in care homes is far more common than it should be.

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Wages and prices

An allegedly good news story today is that "wages catch up with inflation".

It's a while since I've seen a more misleading statistic. Wages have not caught up with inflation at all. What has happened is that the annual rate of increase in wages (now 1.7%) is greater than the annual rate of increase in consumer prices (now 1.6%). However, given that prices have been increasing faster than wages for some years now, wages have quite a bit of catching up to do. A 0.1% advantage in the rate of change will not come close to doing that.

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Minimum alcohol pricing

A lengthy article was published in the BMJ today about the decision the government made last year to abandon their previously-stated plans on minimum alcohol pricing. As you might expect from the BMJ, with their strident anti-industry agenda, the article claims this is all about a terrible conspiracy in which the evil drinks industry and the government collude together to put the interests of the evil drinks industry ahead of public health.

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Lucentis, Avastin, and the role of licensing

Two drugs for treating age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a disease that can lead to important loss of vision, have recently been much in the news. The drugs are Lucentis (generic name ranibizumab), which is expensive and is licensed for the treatment of AMD, and Avastin (generic name bevacizumab), which is much cheaper, but not licensed for the treatment of AMD.

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Externalities in vaccination

As you may or may not know, I'm studying economics with the Open University in my spare time. It's a fascinating subject, and I'm enjoying it very much. The latest thing I've been reading about as part of the course is why free market mechanisms generally fail in healthcare, and one of the reasons is an interesting little economic feature of vaccinations that's never occurred to me before. So in case it hadn't occurred to you either, I thought I'd share it with you.

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