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  • 1 Professor at Stanford University and National Bureau of Economic Research, Director of the Asia Health Policy Program
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The economic challenges countries face when adopting personalized medicine technologies provide an important illustration of many of the concepts articulated by János Kornai in his pioneering research on innovation in market-driven, capitalist surplus economies. In Chinese philosophy, Yin and Yang often represent contradictory yet inseparable opposites – two forces that not merely coexist, but are synergistic and mutually dependent. This concept is an apt analogy for the relationship between innovation and shortage in the health sector. Dangers arise from over-emphasizing the Yin of innovation over the Yang of access, and vice versa. If we over-constrain innovation, we die needlessly early and forfeit quality of life that innovations might have enabled. If we do not distribute access to innovations equitably, we diminish our humanity, suffer backlashes from populism and distrust of science and expertise, and risk social instability, even violent conflict.

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