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How to encourage cost-saving tech inventions

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An article in the current JAMA, headlined “Obstacles to Developing Cost-Lowering Health Technology: The Inventor’s Dilemma,” suggests, among other things:

“First, to inspire innovators, federal agencies and philanthropies should commit a larger share of their research budgets to high-risk, high-reward science.

“Second, to entice inventors to address challenging problems, there could be greater use of prizes (e.g., cash for the first inventor who creates a drug or device that meets a specific need).

“Third, to ensure that low-cost, high-value discoveries reach the market, patent buyouts could be offered. This could increase the likelihood that these products are commercialized and offered at prices sufficiently low to encourage widespread adoption.

“Fourth, to give inventors access to the capital required to bring a cost-lowering technology to market, a public-interest investment fund could be established. The public-interest investment fund would seek out promising products that are not attractive to conventional investors, and replenish its coffers with shared savings from successful inventions.

“Fifth, to streamline the regulatory approval process, the FDA could be authorized to use existing mechanisms, such as fast-track or breakthrough therapy authority, to expedite review of cost-lowering technologies. This would require expanding the FDA’s mission beyond safety and efficacy to address costs.

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