Friday, March 12, 2004

I just re-discovered Doug & Claudia Muir, some folks I used to know from the Bujold mailing list. For the Bujold fans out there, Count Vormuir in A Civil Campaign was named after Doug. At the time, Doug and Claudia were living on opposite sides of the world - I can't remember where exactly Claudia had been living then, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't on Guam with Doug. Apparently they got together somehow, because they're now married with kids in Bucharest.

Doug is now one of the guys blogging with Tacitus at his eponymous blog, but the Muirs also have their own family blog at Halfway Down the Danube. I'm still looking around, but Doug has an interesting post about how the multinational drug corporations have discovered Southeastern Europe's comparative advantages as a center for drug-testing. The combination of relative poor health among Eastern Europeans, cheap and educated healthcare labor, and favorable regulatory conditions has made Romania, Bulgaria and Serbia near-ideal for drug companies looking to cut costs involved in getting drugs tested for regulatory approval in the EU and the US. I had not been aware that companies could use foreign datapoints for regulatory purposes in the States. I mean, it makes sense that they could, I just didn't think that the bureaucrats would necessarily be reasonable about it.

Doug cites some Romanians who think that their country is being exploited in this particular business, but I guess I don't see the horrors inherent in a type of exploitation that pays for top-notch health care for poor people. The worst part of it would no doubt involve catastrophic results due to the failures; but this sort of thing already goes on anywhere they're doing drug or treatment testing, rich or poor, foreign or domestic. All in all, it sounds like a classic example of Ricardian economics in action.

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