Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Federal $$ per Death

The post compares federal research dollars to (US?) deaths.

* Stroke: $2143 are spent on research into stroke per person who dies of a stroke.
* Heart disease: $3,649 are spent researching heart disease per person who dies of heart disease.
* Lower respiratory diseases (such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis): $9,495
* Alzheimer's: $10,164
* Kidney Disease: $10,552
* Diabetes: $13,474
* Cancer: $14,006
* Influenza and pneumonia: $58,315
* HIV/AIDS: $212,330

The comments (and I) suggest other comparisons:
(b) world-wide deaths;
(c) number of expected life-years lost;
(d) cost to treat;
(e) suffering;
(f) opportunity to eliminate future deaths;
(g) likelihood of reducing deaths/costs per dollar spent.

Other concerns might be (a) issues in attributing deaths to a particular disease; (b) risks of pandemic outbreaks; or (c) what areas the private sector has incentives to work on.

Not that media exposure and politics doesn't have anything to do with how money is spent.

How about dollars spent per US death due to terrorism? ...that makes AIDS look cheap. (And how do you count US deaths in Iraq? deaths due to terrorism or a costs of preventing terrorism?)

One might also argue that research funds are not a zero-sum game. Groups organize and raise AIDS and flu funding. Other groups could organize and raise stroke funding without lowing AIDS funding.

Perhaps a problem for stokes and heart disease is that they can kill you too quickly; no time for the family to lobby congress.

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