Another Podcast? But Tradeoffs Is Definitely Worth Your Time.

Host Dan Gorenstein was the senior health care reporter on the Marketplace radio program
Peter Wehrwein

So many podcasts, so little time—and only two ears to listen with.

But Dan Gorenstein’s new Tradeoffs podcast belongs in your queue.

It launched late last year and is picking up steam. Gorenstein, his two co-hosts, Sayeh Nikpay and Anupam Jena, and his 10-person staff are based at the University of Pennsylvania. The editorial office is housed in the university’s Leonard Davis Institute and the podcasts are being produced at Penn’s  Annenberg School's Media Lab.

Gorenstein is a familiar voice because of his stint as the senior health care reporter American Public Media’s Marketplace radio show that is featured on many NPR radio stations.

A recent episode of Tradeoffs on drug prices and innovation was everything you want in a podcast: smart, efficient, well-paced, with production values that move the story along but don’t overwhelm.


Dan Gorenstein

And as befits the name of the podcast, Gorenstein is evenhanded and thoughtful. For the price and innovation episode, he spoke with Chaitan Khosla, a Stanford researcher who raised venture capital money to fund research and development of his drug for celiac disease; Craig Garthwaite, a Northwestern University health economist who researched the effects of the creation of Medicare D on drug innovation; and Stacie Dusetzina, a Vanderbilt health economist, about international drug pricing. 

The takeaway was that future profits—fed by high prices—do lead to more investment and innovation in biopharma (no surprise there), but Gorenstein adds some thoughtful caveats, such as whether the drugs that actually get on the market really add that much value. Dusetzina, who has been in our pages, says paying for value would be one way to reap more real benefit from high prices and the gushers of capital going into biopharma. Garthwaite says his research showed that Part D led to far fewer true advances that had been expected and that the simple profits=innovation equation is not so black and white.