PODCAST: Market failures and Egypt economics

A premature baby, born at 28 weeks, lies in a neonatal intensive care unit at New York University Medical Center on November 10, 2004 in New York City.

Egypt’s newly appointed interim prime minister, economist and former finance minister Hazem el-Beblawi, is expected to name his cabinet today. Military leaders who seized power last week are still promising new elections early next year.

If there is a crucial need, markets will provide. Not always, and not in the case of critical nutrients needed to help premature babies. It turns out, America is facing a bizarre shortage of  medical grade basic nutrients such as phosphorus and zinc. The Pittsburgh Post Gazette reports neonatal intensive care units are scavanging to keep preemies alive, sometimes taking from adult patients elsewhere in the hospital.

The reasons are complicated -- a lack of market incentives for companies to produce low-profit drugs, manufacturing issues, and delayed government action -- but the results are clear, patients are suffering. What can be done?

About the author

David Brancaccio is the host of Marketplace Morning Report. Follow David on Twitter @DavidBrancaccio

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