Evaluating this issue from a purely economical lens it appears that unrestricted and funded stem cell research places the United Sates in the best lowering the national deficit specifically by reducing medical expenses, creating biotech Jobs, and by means of financial independence from foreign and private impasses. In America there is an intense debate over the ethical implications of embryonic stem cell research. Conservatives lobby to halt the research because these practices destroy life while liberals advocate for this research due to its potential to cure disease. What the debate is over are stem cells. Stem cells are found in multi-cellular organisms and have the ability to differentiate into a wide variety of specialized cell types and also to renew themselves through mitotic divisions (Clarion, 2011). There are three types of stem cells, embryonic, adult, and cells from cord blood.
Embryonic stem cells are tiptoeing, meaning that they can differentiate into all cell types within an organism. The other types of stem cells can only give rise to a few types of specialized cells (Tanned, 2005). This capability is why embryonic stem cells are most desirable to researchers. Even though the debate over embryonic stem cell research is focused on ethics, the issue of embryonic stem cell research is far from being simply an ethical one. Embryonic stem cell research also has large implications for the economic state of the nation as well. Ultimately, the political leaders of this entry have important policy decisions to make surrounding this issue as we progress into the future.
Historically the regulations regarding embryonic stem cell research and its funding have greatly changed depending on who is in office. Beginning in 2000, the National Institute of Health and President Clinton agreed to fund embryonic stem cell research. Then, when President George W. Bush took office he placed a hold on this funding and vetoed all bills that sought to lessen restrictions on the research. This changed when President Obama replaced him, as he signed an executive order, which allowed funding for stem cell research (Manure, 2009). Currently, even when funding is permitted, research is still limited by the Dickey- Wicker Provision.
This provision does not allow research that kills embryos in the process and does not allow the creation of new cell lines (Williams, 2009). It seems obvious that the next president will again have to make a decision surrounding embryonic stem cell research, and they will most certainly need to take into consideration the economical implications it may have when doing so. There are three general positions that the federal government may assume: the first is where embryonic stem cell research is entirely disallowed and no federal funding is available, the second is where most forms of embryonic stem cell research are embryonic stem cell research is allowed and funded.
It is the intention of this piece of writing to move beyond the ethical dilemmas of this debate and to explore the economic benefits and consequences the United States may face under each of these three possible political positions. In the first scenario, embryonic stem cell research is disallowed and there is no federal funding provided to conduct the work. One of the main economic concerns surrounding stem cell research is the advantage f becoming the first nation to develop usable cures. There is, therefore, an economic disadvantage for nations not involved in the research. In this scenario the United States would be opting out of conducting the research giving the obvious advantage to other nations that are conducting the work, namely China, Singapore, and South Korea (Russo , 2005).
This situation leaves foreign nations in complete control of all stem cell research. The decision to disallow this research in the United States would force American based agencies that would benefit from the technologies to sponsor search that is taking place outside of the country. The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation provided a $600,000 grant in 2002 to set up a lab in Singapore already (Baklava, Buckhorn, Jung, Wong, 2009). With an increase in embryonic stem cell research restrictions even more domestic funding would be funneled to foreign labs. Another serious consequence of disallowing embryonic stem cell research in the United States would be the migration of research scientists into East Asian countries.
In these places the scientists have the opportunity to conduct research freely and also to receive funding. These are large incentives. Singapore is a country that even speaks English making it especially alluring for a less difficult transition. This trend of migration could create a surplus of researchers abroad and a deficit here. Without these scientists there would be a drastic halt of progress in the biotech industry These mentioned events may not even be the most significant (Levine, 2004). Economic consequence of this political decision. If necessary medications were developed in foreign countries the United States would be forced to import these prescription drugs for the use by its people.
Purchasing these drugs would further hurt the already dismal trade deficit and send potential U. S. Revenue overseas. With all the provided disadvantages of this political scenario it does not seem to be a viable option at all, but this is not completely the case. Embryonic stem cell research is very expensive. It may be wise to consider postponing the nations involvement in embryonic stem cell research until it provides more promise, or until the economic state of the nation improves. The decision to not become involved in embryonic stem cell research allows more money to go towards things like creating Jobs, fixing infrastructure, and the new health care plan which at this time are seen as more pressing to some people.
From a purely economic perspective though, these points aforementioned suggest that this scenario is a reasonably poor choice. Heavy restrictions would place the United States at an economic disadvantage, likely drive funding to foreign countries, force migration of domestic research scientists, and create a potential dependence on foreign drugs. The second scenario, where stem cell research is allowed but no federal funding is provided, can be seen as a better alternative because it avoids some of the large negative economic uniqueness illustrated previously under the first scenario. It appears that this pursue stem cell research could do so within the United States.
It also would prevent the funneling of domestic research money into foreign countries because there would be labs here willing to do the research that would need the funding. This scenario also prevents the need to import medicines because there is the potential that a therapy or treatment could be produced here within our boarders. Even though this situation seems to eliminate many problems of the first, it still has economic implications to could be very severe. The second scenario most closely resembles the current state of embryonic stem cell research within the United States. Although the research would now be permitted to take place within the country, it would be funded by either state or private sources. This may not be the best practice. At this point, stem cell research is still in its infancy.
This means the private sector would have the burden of a heavy investment with no promise of a pay off for what looks like a very long time. The heavy investment in a product while it is in its infancy can be seen for example when looking at the National Cancer Institute’s coverer of Facilitate, a cancer drug. The company found the drug in the sass’s. They were able to isolate it in 1979 and after 700 million dollars in development and clinical trials the drug was finally approved for use in 1992 (Anton, Gu, Lowered, Lillian, Tolled, 2009). Private investors look for profit, and it does not appear that stem cell research is close to delivering a product because it is still such a relatively new field.
Green, the first company conducting a clinical trial of a therapy using embryonic stem cells halted the trial and left the stem cell business entirely due to a large efficient (Tanned, 2009). It seems that if this research is left to the private sector, it may never be conducted in the first place due to the large money and time investment it would require. Besides the possibility of the research not occurring at all, there may be even more serious economic implications if the private sector does manage to develop a breakthrough. Any application utilizing the technology developed by the private sector cannot have a price cap that is enforced by the government.
This problem has been witnessed before, as seen in the case of Claritin for instance. Once t became patented the price was then was raised fifteen times over a five year period resulting in a fifty percent increase in the price overall (Fazing, Burkes, Munson, Yang, 2007). If the private sector were able to patent their advances there would be nothing to stop unjustifiable pricing. The United States government would eventually end up having to use these treatments if they became the standard of care. They could not deny the people of their country life saving treatments, and yet paying the private sector whatever price they demand to do so would become very costly.
With al things considered, this political scenario could still be very costly economically, especially to the healthcare sector and to programs like Medicare and Medicaid. This may eventually place a strain on the federal budget; yet again adding to the already large deficit. The last scenario to be considered alleviates some of these economic stresses and involves government funding of embryonic stem cell research as well as the elimination of the restrictions placed on it. One advantage of federally funded research is that intellectual property rights granted to the private group that sakes the innovation may be taken over by the federal government if deemed necessary. This also means that the organization would be required to grant the world and to give preference to U. S industry.
On top of that, this would also give the government “march in” rights, meaning that they could license the invention to a third party without needing the permission of the person holding the patent (Goner, 2006). All of these privileges work to grant cheaper, easier, and more productive access to innovations for use by the general public. This makes federally ended research more advantageous than research funded by the private sector. Besides federally funded research being more advantageous to the general public than research conducted by the private sector, the final scenario would also be most advantageous for the economy if an innovation were to ever occur.
The applications arising from embryonic stem cell research have the potential to treat diseases like Alchemist’s, Parkinson, heart disease, spinal cord injuries, and diabetes. To highlight the economic impacts of a cure of only one of these diseases, one should evaluate Alchemist’s for example. According to the Alchemist’s Association, in 2005 Medicare spent ninety-one billion dollars on beneficiaries with the disease, and state and federal spending on nursing home care was estimated at twenty-one billion dollars (Goner, 2006). Clearly, the immediate economic benefits would be substantial if these costs could be eliminated. The applications of embryonic stem cell research would cure diseases and save drastically on healthcare spending.
It is reasonable to infer that stem cell research breakthroughs would raise the quality of life for Americans, decrease federal and personal medical expenses, and increase radioactivity based on increases in average working time and life expectancy. The economic potential of stem cell research does not only reside in the reduction of healthcare spending. Since restrictions currently have been placed on stem cell research, individual states have started to fund the research on their own. In 2004, California voted though Proposition 71 to invest three billion dollars in embryonic stem cell research. This investment is said to have produced thousands of Jobs, and that by 2014 will generate over 200 million dollars in net revenues to the state (Tanned, 2005).
If the restrictions on embryonic stem cell research funding were gone, it is logical to believe that these results wouldn’t occur only in California but across the nation at centers that receive funding as well. So, it seems that this scenario is without flaw, but this is not the case. As mentioned earlier, stem cell research is expensive, and is not anywhere near being close to producing clinical applications. With this said, funding embryonic stem cell research may be more of a luxury than it is practical. Funding embryonic stem cell research may not improve the quality of life or Americans as quickly as other investments that would be as substantial. For this reason, this scenario may not come to fruition any time soon.
Even though the third scenario places the investment on American shoulders, it also places the country in a competitive position in which the people and the economy stand to benefit from The debate about how to federally approach embryonic stem cell research most. Has many economic implications. In the first scenario where stem cell research is disallowed and is not funded the United States would be allowing foreign countries to take the lead. This means foreign countries would have the economic advantage. In the second scenario, where embryonic stem cell research is allowed but not funded, the United States would be allowing the private sector to take the lead. This scenario where embryonic stem cell research is funded and unrestricted the United States itself would be taking the lead and would stand to gain economically.