Achieving a Healthy Future Built on a Blueprint of Research, Progress and Hope

Achieving a Healthy Future Built on a Blueprint of Research, Progress and Hope

02.12.13 | By John Castellani

When President Obama steps to the podium to deliver his fifth State of the Union address Tuesday night, it's clear that he'll be facing both a Congress and nation at a crossroads. Despite an economy adding jobs at a consistent rate in recent months, GDP actually declined in the fourth quarter. According to research firm Battelle, inflation-adjusted R&D spending is expected to decline .7 percent across the U.S., compared to four percent annual growth less than a decade ago. A persistent sense of a "new normal" fueled by economic and political uncertainty challenges our optimism for the future.

While ongoing debates over sequestration, the debt ceiling and other fiscal policy issues preoccupy our national discourse, the true test for policymakers, industry stakeholders and millions of Americans alike will be our collective ability to look beyond the short-term and focus on big ideas that will help lay the groundwork for an innovative and healthy future. As a society, it's what we've successfully done following every economic downturn of the last 100 years.

To do so again, we must prioritize the health and well-being of every American, regardless of age, income level or geographic location. Every day, biopharmaceutical innovators and researchers in cities and communities across the nation are developing new treatments to combat costly diseases such as Alzheimer's, cancer, diabetes and Parkinson's. There are more than 5,000 new medicines in the R&D pipeline, with 70 percent potentially first in class. Many of these treatments are for diseases that haven't seen new therapies approved in the last decade, including 158 potential medicines for ovarian cancer and 41 for small-cell lung cancer.

Since 2000, PhRMA member companies have invested $500 billion in R&D. The FDA has approved more than 340 new medicines in the last decade. This includes the first ever vaccine against cervical cancer, the first new medicine for lupus since 1955, a breakthrough treatment for cystic fibrosis, a therapy that helps adults suffering from multiple sclerosis walk and many more. This is progress in action.

The power of medicine to drive down health care spending is also very real. Recently, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office revised its methodology for evaluating legislation that affects the use of prescription medicines in Medicare. For every one percent increase in total number of prescriptions filled, Medicare spending on other health services such as hospitalizations will decrease by .20 percent. For CBO, the evidence was clear: seniors and persons with disabilities on Medicare Part D avoid costly chronic diseases and health care services by adhering to prescription drug regimens.

Getting our economy back on track and ensuring the health and well-being of millions of Americans is a long-term endeavor. However, every decision that we make - whether it's related to Medicare policy, educating our future scientists or prioritizing our national competitiveness - will directly affect our ability to deliver a healthy and innovative future. We've worked hard to develop a blueprint through decades of research, progress and hope, and our work is only getting started.

Best of luck to the president and Senator Rubio tonight. We're looking forward to hearing their thoughts on how we can all work together in the year ahead.

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