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To the Editor Dr Emanuel1 ascribed much of the blame for increasing health care costs to biomedical research, and cited increasing costs as a major reason for the decrease in real dollars for NIH funding. He pointed out that the NIH must demonstrate its ability to lower costs. The true picture is far more complex.
First, Emanuel used bevacizumab as an example of an expensive, noncurative drug. Other examples of noncurative drugs that have had a major effect on health are statins and antiretrovirals. These drugs do not cure coronary artery disease or human immunodeficiency virus but do prolong life. Even the example that Emanuel cited as a triumph, the Hemophilus influenzae type B vaccine, could be seen as increasing costs because individuals saved by this vaccine could eventually develop expensive diseases as the population ages.
Arbiser JL. Reductions in Funding for Medical Research. JAMA. 2013;310(8):855-856. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.170797