In the Times Sunday Review today (my favorite section of the Sunday paper) I found an ironic juxtaposition of compassionate doctors and greedy pharma.
Nicholas Kristof describes how a doctor in Nepal has devised a "simple cataract microsurgery technique that costs on $24 per person and is virtually always successful." Dr. Sanduk Ruit has already restored eyesight to more than 100,000 people. 20 million more blind people worldwide can benefit from this. This illustrates medicine in its finest and most compassionate mode.
Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel of the University of Pennsylvania describes a different scenario in his discussion of a new class of cholesterol lowering agents. Pharma companies plan to charge $14,000 a year for the drugs. And it is not even clear how much benefit these drugs will provide their users.
He asks whether the potential value of the drugs is worth the expense. In this hypothetical cost-benefit analysis, Emanuel implies that big pharma is greedy and it will cost all insured citizens money out-of-pocket in the form of higher premiums to defray the costs that will be generated.
In health care nobody will convince me otherwise: to better our world, we need more compassion and less greed.