Stiglitz sums up the problem nicely: Drug companies spend far more money on advertising and marketing than they do on research, far more on research for lifestyle drugs for conditions like impotence and hair loss than for lifesaving drugs, and almost no money on diseases that afflict hundreds of millions of poor people, such as malaria.
Over French academic economists signed the petition of support. Poor people get few benefits from this system despite paying the high prices for the few drugs that can serve their problems.
At the same time they have increasingly formalized their theory, making it progressively irrelevant to understanding economic reality. And the French students were proving marvelous to work with, especially Gilles Raveaud.
It may be the case that two theories highlight the same aspects of some corner of reality but offer different conclusions. Economist Joseph Stiglitz calls for a new way to finance and incentivize drug research because the current patent system is grotesquely inefficient and unfair to people in developing countries.
Many factors have contributed, but three especially. We wish to escape from imaginary worlds! What we ask for is simple: to have the empirical and theoretical tools which will permit us to understand the world in which we live.
But because the intellectual mindset has become so pervasive — despite its remoteness from empirical realities — it is weirdly functional.