When MoneyBall Meets Medicine: How Governments are Funding Research Into the Wrong Diseases


Founder of Health Rising and Phoenix Rising
Staff member
Fascinating and very timely article in the NY Times about how governments are underfunding research into the diseases that cause the most pain, suffering and disability...ME/CFS and FM must have one of the biggest disparities between suffering and funding....

I have preordered the book.
What’s worse: Ebola or AIDS? Measles or malnutrition? Lung cancer orlow back pain? As individuals, as a nation, and as a global community, where should we focus our time and money to improve lives the most?

The way we usually answer these questions is to count the number of deaths: The more people killed, the more important the problem. Counting deaths is so familiar that few have thought to question it. But death toll alone says nothing about how long people live, and good health is much more than not being dead.

"Now people everywhere can bring “Moneyball” to medicine. A few months after releasing their global numbers in The Lancet, the same scientists supplied the underlying figures for 187 nations. These statistics will be updated again later this year. At last report, in the United States, measured by DALYs, the third-largest health problem was low back pain. Fifth is major depressive disorders. Eleventh is neck pain. Thirteenth is anxiety disorders. None of these maladies kill anyone directly, so they don’t even show up on a list of leading killers. But they still cause huge amounts of pain and suffering, and cost our economy billions of dollars in lost productivity.

When will low back pain get the research funds and attention given to lung cancer, just below it in a DALY ranking? The toll from major depressive disorder, No. 5, is estimated to be 20 percent worse than that from stroke. Why don’t we promote early detection in the same way, on public billboards and ad campaigns? Health loss from anxiety disorders is estimated to be 80 percent higher than that from breast cancer. Do advocates for anxiety treatment even have their own colored ribbon?"

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