Scarcity of Resources and Choice in Health Services and Medicinal Products

Medicinal products’ clinical studies facilitate the provision of health care services for a specified medical needs. In other words, medicinal products and health care services are goods within the concepts of economics’ terms. Specifically, health care services are the consumption and investment goods (Kominski, & Stoller. 2013). Although human wants/needs are insatiable, the “scarcity” of resources and choices widen the gap of unmet needs or wants. Thus, pharmaceutical industries or health care services provider makes business choices that favor research on diseases with high potential for a substantially profitable return over rare disease interventions, which has minimal profit potential.

The economic model structure on choices of research and development depends on the level of quantity demand, population at risk or population target, and the value of health or the level of risk for a medical condition. The relationship between “demand” and “price” coupled with the economics law of demand and supply is an inextricable link especially when resources are scarce for a necessary health care service (Kominski, & Stoller. 2013). For instance, an increase in demand of an efficacious and innovative medicinal product for a health condition influences the price of the product in the marketplace. The influence is even more when choices are limited in the marketplace than when there are many comparative alternatives.

In many cases, a high demand and supply of goods create a relatively positive relationship between supply curve and price. To break the curse of the law of demand and supply, the US, for example, created the Orphan Act. Without the Orphan Act, rare health conditions have no hope for a constant flow of innovative interventions. It has been established by many experts that without the Orphan drug Acts’ incentives; many pharmaceutical industries lack the motivation or interest to invest time, capital, and resources in research and development on rare diseases (Phillips, 2005).

Rare diseases that needed immediate medical intervention is a societal and public health responsibility. A societal responsibility which needs an active advocacy role. In the case of rare diseases, many economists urged that without strong advocacy role in rare diseases or conditions, which are less competitive and profitable health outcome, the conditions are not attractive investment from the economic perspectives (Phillips, 2005). By insuring potential pioneers’ investment with exclusive incentive packages that allow product exclusivity to achieve a profitable margin makes business decisions or choices on rare medicinal products a desirable investment (Phillips, 2005). An extended market exclusivity and government subsidies are some of the attractive incentives offered to a pioneer invested in a rare disease research. Perhaps, the common denominator to scarcity and choice in clinical research depends on the opportunity cost and product profitability (Phillips, 2005). Therefore, public equity is an essential element in public health services and stability.

Even in the Pareto efficacy model, which is the state of allocation of resources in which it is impossible to make any one entity better off without compromising another or making another entity worse off; it is possible to allocate resources that will achieve a balanced benefit to the society where no input and output can be transferred to make the situation better off and another situation worse off (Phillips, 2005). However, when such an ideal situation is not available or practically impossible to attain, social-efficacy; a situation whereby compensating worse off situation and still attain a better off situation must be implied to address the health issues for public health equity (Phillips, 2005). Public equity is a moral justice and societal needs rather than wants. Any community that addresses public health equity in an efficient manner is a better off society. Therefore, it is crucial in public health and health services to invest in the development of medicinal products for rare diseases. The development of medical products for rare diseases balances the wantonness in public health equity. Other factors that maintain public health equity in society are not limited to the equitable representation of ethnic groups, race, culture, vulnerable population, etc. in a clinical research to ensure uniform representation of societal genetic pool in a research without compromising human subjects, safety and efficacy of the research.


Kominski, G., & Stoller, S. (2013). Health economics principles. Retrieve from %2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id %3D_2651615_1%26url%3D.

Phillips, C. J. (2005). Health economics: An introduction for health professionals. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing