Rick Bogle: Billions for medical research aren’t worth it

A recent letter to the editor argued that the billions of taxpayer dollars doled out to medical researchers by the National Institutes of Health is something everyone should support because it creates jobs.

Unfortunately, that’s about all the good the money actually does. And if we are going to spend billions of tax dollars to create jobs, I’d like to see them be jobs that actually benefit society. The $400 million that ended up in Wisconsin could have fed a lot of hungry kids. It could have patched a lot of roads. It could have provided a better safety net for poor people who need medical care.

According to a 2010 cover story in Newsweek: “From 1996 to 1999, the U.S. food and Drug Administration approved 157 new drugs. In the comparable period a decade later — that is, from 2006 to 2009 — the agency approved 74. Not among them were any cures, or even meaningfully effective treatments, for Alzheimer’s disease, lung or pancreatic cancer, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, or a host of other afflictions that destroy lives.”

When you add up this woeful record, the billions of dollars it costs every year, and the millions of animals suffering in the labs, it seems we ought to be cutting back on this taxpayer-funded program.

— Rick Bogle, Madison

Rick Bogle: Billions for medical research aren’t worth it.