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July 27, 1964

The Economics of American Medicine

JAMA. 1964;189(4):333. doi:10.1001/jama.1964.03070040083034

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In this major work Seymour E. Harris, Littauer Professor of Economics at Harvard, throws new light on controversial issues and new fuel on the fires of controversy. He develops his argument in a dispassionate and scholarly style, with voluminous but clear documentation. He starts with the frank avowal that his major interest is "to exploit financial institutions in such a manner as to increase resources going into medicine, making the most effective use of the resultant inputs, and in particular to bring about an improvement in the distribution of medicine." Some of his conclusions are familiar, several are arguable, but each is supported by a chapter of closely analyzed data.

He finds drug costs excessive and points to indications of monopoly. There are, in his view, both an overall shortage and an uneven distribution of doctors in this country. With rising population, the physician is "forced to raise his price."

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