The government can't run a railroad, maintain the highways, or even deliver the mail on time--but somehow, they think they can develop drugs.

And they're going to spend a billion dollars of your money trying to prove it when the National Institutes of Health opens its new National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences later this year.

They're very proud of this thing... can't stop talking about it, in fact. But here's something they won't talk about so much: The feds have never actually developed drugs before.

But how hard can it be, right?

As it turns out, it's a lot harder than it looks.

After all, Big Pharma may be many things... but asleep at the wheel isn't one of them. If there's an opportunity out there to sell you a med, they will find it--and they will make sure they sell you that med.

They don't just know how to play this game--they invented it.

But developing drugs is a risky business with a very low success rate, and for every med that reaches the market there are countless failures.

Expensive failures.

And if the companies that earn billions doing this fail that often and that spectacularly, just what can we expect from NIH Amateur Hour?

"Would we be foolish--we being an agency that has never developed drugs and actually doesn't know how to do therapeutics that well--to get into this space?" Dr. Thomas R. Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, pondered in the New York Times.

If Dr. Insel ever answered his own question, the Times didn't mention it... but it's pretty obvious what he was getting at.

But let's be extremely optimistic for a moment: Let's pretend the feds hit a home run and developed a promising treatment for a disease or condition with few options.

Suddenly, millions of Americans would have access to a new treatment--and, since it came off our tax dollars, it would be dirt cheap... even generic right out of the gate, right?

Well, that's just wishful thinking--because the feds say once a treatment shows promise, they'll "partner" with the private sector and let a drug company finish the job.

In other words, Big Pharma will get to do the final trials--and sell the drug developed at your expense back to you... with the normal markup, of course.

Like I said, these guys know how to play the game.

And the feds don't.