David Bornstein examines why there were 800,000 medical research papers published in 2008 and only 21 new drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration last year:
“Pure science is what you’re rewarded for,” notes Dr. [Ben] Barres. “That’s what you get promoted for. That’s what they give the Nobel Prizes for. And yet developing a drug is a hundred times harder than getting a Nobel Prize. … Until five or ten years ago, working on disease was kind of shunned.”
But if you're trying to hold down medical costs, a dearth of new treatments will, paradoxically, help.