The Creeping Zombieism in the Health-care Business

In the Wall Street Journal was a guest editorial from a Dr. Josh Bloom. He was commenting on creeping zombieism in the health-care business. He’s in favour of it!

But here’s the background story (excerpted from our still-unfinished new book).

Antibiotics have been a great boon to mankind. But Nietzsche’s dictum — that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger — applies to the little bugs as it does to mankind.

Antibiotics killed all except the most robust bacteria, which were able to reproduce and evolve. Then new antibiotics were introduced to kill the new, more resistant germs.

This bacterial arms race has gone on for the last 40 years. And the bugs seem to be winning. Drug-resistant bacteria killed 90,000 Americans last year. And the problem is getting worse.

What can be done? More new drugs to fight the bugs that are resistant to the old drugs? New money to fix the problems caused by the old money?

Pharmaceutical companies make money on bringing out new products, not on withdrawing old ones. Each new generation of antibiotic means new patentable and profitable products to market. Everyone gets what he wants. Patients, doctors, pharmacists and the corporate drugmakers.

And as health care grows more important, more costly and more ubiquitous, so does the downdraft grow more powerful.

Combine the development of the drug-resistant superbugs with greater numbers of people visiting hospitals. Every year, there are more and more patients coming in for unneeded testing and ineffective treatments.

Every year, there are more elective and often unnecessary surgeries. Here, the unnecessary patients meet the unwanted staph infections. A nice formula for spreading the unstoppable deadly bugs far and wide!
The solution to this problem is the same one facing Napoleon at Berezina River. ‘Turn back,’ said the voice of reason. ‘Go ahead,’ said the mischievous gods.

David Goldhill writes in The Atlantic about one very reasonable effort to stop the plague:

‘Dr. Peter Pronovost came up with a way to dramatically reduce the number of these often-fatal hospital-based infections. His solution? A new multimillion-dollar machine? A super-drug that costs thousands per dose? Nope.

What Pronovost came up with was a simple checklist of clinical protocols. The preventive steps involved things like doctors washing their hands, careful equipment handling and some other very basic steps to avoid spreading infections.

Hospitals that implemented Pronovost’s checklist enjoyed immediate success. Where his checklist was put in place and followed, hospital-originated infections dropped by two-thirds within three months of adopting it.’

But the zombified health industry has little incentive to put in place such simple, cheap solutions. There’s no money in de-escalating the bug war.

Instead, the money is in coming up with super-antibiotics to fight the super-bugs. And here they come.

Reports the aforementioned Dr. Josh Bloom in the Journal: ‘Enterobacteriaceae, or CRE, have emerged that could create a scenario to rival the most terrifying of science-fiction movies…’

But Dr. Bloom seems more pleased than alarmed.


In the article, we learn that, for the first time ever, the US government is giving $200 million to GlaxoSmithKline to help the company ‘search for new antibiotics.’

Dr. Bloom, it says at the bottom of the article, is on the staff of a non-profit group called the American Council on Science and Health. The group will not disclose its source of funding. But let’s take a wild guess. GlaxoSmithKline?


Bill Bonner
for Markets and Money

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Since founding Agora Inc. in 1979, Bill Bonner has found success and garnered camaraderie in numerous communities and industries. A man of many talents, his entrepreneurial savvy, unique writings, philanthropic undertakings, and preservationist activities have all been recognized and awarded by some of America’s most respected authorities. Along with Addison Wiggin, his friend and colleague, Bill has written two New York Times best-selling books, Financial Reckoning Day and Empire of Debt. Both works have been critically acclaimed internationally. With political journalist Lila Rajiva, he wrote his third New York Times best-selling book, Mobs, Messiahs and Markets, which offers concrete advice on how to avoid the public spectacle of modern finance. Since 1999, Bill has been a daily contributor and the driving force behind Markets and Money.

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