The book is painfully honest. With making mistakes in medicine. With facing death for certain. With medicine being helpless and cannot offer any useful means. So many touching
It's very hard to imagine what dying patients and their family are going through. To live every day knowing that it is approaching the end day by day in a few months. To thrive to die.
New drugs and new treatments are often just there to offer hope. More often falses hope. This is the part of "value" economists never really consider. For that matter anyone who are not these patients or their family. Statistics are hard and ruthless. But people can choose to have faith in small probability. However, if their decisions are being paid by everyone else as in a national health care system, would this be a situation that can be allowed? If everyone who is subject to the situation chooses to go ahead like that, then what? It would be a classic asymmetric decision: if we are making the decision under the veil of ignorance, then we may value "hope" more. If we are not, then we tend to view it more like an irrational waste of public resources.
I for one never considered hope as the marginal utility brought by drugs. At least not the "faith" part, but the small probability that it would make people better. Hope magnifies the benefit. If I'm down and in the depressed state, I'm more likely to sympathize with the hope argument. When it is dark, small probability of getting better would certainly seem larger. We would choose to believe it as larger or that we will be the statistic outliers.
And the author is right. Drug companies know the hope benefit well and they price their drugs accordingly.
And there is the part where national healthcare system tends to be on the side of bankruptcy. We like hope, but we like more being able to have doctors and medicine for everyone else.
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