In the Missoulian: Proof of expertise

Sep 29, 2020 | op-ed

Responding to attacks on an op-ed that I recently wrote in the Missoulian. They called into question both my expertise as an economist to deal with price controls and claims regarding the National Research Council work regarding firearms and violence.

An article (Sept. 25) and a letter (Sept 22) in The Missoulian challenge my criticisms of Steve Bullock’s proposed drug price controls, which would destroy the development of new, lifesaving drugs. It’s easy for Bullock to force drug companies to pay for his altruism, but future patients will be harmed.

Both Loreen Folsom and Jim Hamilton directly or indirectly questioned my expertise. I have a Ph.D. in economics and have held professorships or research positions at Stanford, Wharton Business School, University of Chicago and Yale. I have written many peer-reviewed academic articles on price controls, as well as health care. Also, I authored a letter on the dangers of price controls in medicine, and received signatures from 565 economists Some signers are top experts on the issue.

Hamilton claims smaller BioTech/BioPharma companies do some drug research, and large drug companies purchase their patents. Those costs still must be covered. Large drug companies then handle the large and expensive Phase 3 testing required for government approval. Little of the National Institutes for Health research Hamilton touts directly results in new drugs. As to advertising expenses, if you find something great that saves lives, you have to let people know about it.

The National Research Council did not, as Folsom alleges, conclude that there was “no credible evidence” to support my research on right-to-carry laws. The panel didn’t reach any conclusion and called for more research. Its report studied over 100 different gun control proposals and came to the same non-conclusion on all of them, as the NRC virtually always does. In the ten years preceding the NRC’s 2004 “Firearms and Violence” report, there was only one dissent from the council’s previous 236 reports. My research finally drew a second dissent, so my work got more support than virtually all other NRC studies.

John R. Lott, Jr., “Proof of expertise,” Missoulian, September 29, 2020.

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