Some Modest Proposals

I am a social-media whore. I am awake after midnight fascinated by what people might say next. Now that Mr. Trump won the Presidential election, the future no longer seems to be constrained by civilized precedent. Any proposal is now taken to be credible; even the dismantling of the extremely popular Medicare is on the table.

What is Resilience?

In the summer of 1973, one of us (JC) took a position as one of the first scientists at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), located at a former hunting palace of the Austrian Empress Maria Theresa, just a few miles south of Vienna in the village of Laxenburg, Austria. IIASA was a joint venture of the US National Academy of Sciences and the Soviet Academy of Sciences, with several junior partners, the countries of eastern and western Europe, along with Canada and Japan. The research structure of the Institute was set up along the lines you’d find in a university, except that the “depart- ments” had names like Energy, Urban Studies, Water Resources, Methodology, and so forth, reflecting the fact that IIASA was set up to study questions common to the industrialized countries of the world.

Over the Edge of the Technology Cliff

In the latter half of the twentieth century, two of the highest-flying tech firms were Wang Laboratories, manufacturer of word processors, and Research in Motion (RIM), a Canadian company that produced the famed Blackberry, which took the world of cell phones and electronic email by storm. It’s instructive to look at the timeline of these two companies, both in terms of technology and revenues, to see how things can go very badly very quickly for a company operating in a fast-changing environment.

Why Companies Need to Fail

During the second half of the twentieth century, if you’d asked anyone who was the world’s leading photo-imaging company they would have looked at you like you’d just dropped in from outer space. The answer to that question was so obvious that to even ask the question marked one as a cultural illiterate. Anyone who even faintly understood the term “photo imaging” would have instantly replied, “Kodak, of course.” And indeed it was that obvious. There were no contenders within sight even for second place. Kodak was it. And almost everyone would have imagined that the Soviet Union would collapse before Kodak. But times change, both for companies and for countries. And by 2012 the USSR was but a distant memory—and Kodak was in the bankruptcy courts on its way to oblivion. Perhaps it’s not accidental that the reasons why both the USSR and Kodak collapsed are about the same. So as the story of this chapter is business, not geopolitics, let’s look at Kodak, not the Kremlin.

How does healthcare economics in the U.S. differ from traditional economics?

The concept of supply and demand is the cornerstone of economic theory. For simple commodities, the theory predicts that the demand for a product decreases as the price of the product increases and consumers are unwilling to pay the higher price. The supply increases as the price increases and suppliers increase production to capture increased profits. The actual price of the product is a compromise between the desires of consumers and the acumen of suppliers.

Clinical Trials in the Era of Personalized Medicine

Excerpts from the book Confronting Complexity X-Events, Resilience, and Human Progress by John L. Casti Roger D. Jones Michael J. Pennock preface table-of-contents Click to Buy Paperback E-Book Bundled The cost of sequencing an individual human genome is rapidly dropping below $1000. Much of the population can now easily access the details of their susceptibility…

The Patient-Driven Drug Pipeline

The new-drug pipeline is a mere shadow of its former blockbusting self. Despite the fact that R&D expenditures have been increasing over the last several years, the number of drugs in the pipeline has been decreasing. There have been many proposed explanations for this:

Healthcare Patents and Hot-Dog Vendors

While patents on medical devices seem normal, patents on drugs and chemical entities may seem like a stretch. I am not sure that the law makers in Venice in 1474, who invented the legal concept of a patent, envisioned the need to patent molecules. In fact, molecules were not even envisioned at that time. We all know that a patent allows an inventor time to commercialize his or her product, but are patents really needed for the economic viability of healthcare? Shouldn’t healthcare be all about saving lives and promoting health and not about making money on people who desperately need healthcare? Do patents have a benefit to patients, not just the patent holders? I think the answer to this question is “perhaps.” Patents promote diversity of products in the healthcare market place by forcing inventors to develop drugs outside the domain of currently patented products.