Driving Amazing R&D Progress

Driving Amazing R&D Progress

09.02.14 | By Jim Robinson

The following post is from Jim Robinson, President of Astellas Pharma US

We are on the cusp of amazing progress in U.S. biopharmaceutical research and development, but without policies that help attract and retain research-based companies and partnerships to help bring new medicines to patients, we run the risk of losing our country’s competitive advantage. I was honored to address this issue at a recent We Work for Health event in Philadelphia with Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett, North Carolina Governor Pat McCroy and Indiana Governor Mike Pence, industry scientists from Eli Lilly and Merck, and a patient advocate who volunteered in a recent clinical trial.

What struck me throughout the conversation was how my fellow panelists all understood and appreciated the value of biomedical innovation.

As a member of PhRMA’s Board of Directors and the State Committee, I have seen first-hand the tremendous impact state policies and partnerships have on our ability to create an environment that helps both patients and the economy. Pennsylvania and North Carolina, for example, provide tax credits to encourage increased investment in innovation, and the Indiana Biosciences Research Institute is the first industry-led collaborative life sciences research institute in the country.

As a result of these initiatives, the life sciences sector directly employs more than 85,000, 55,000 and 52,000 people in Pennsylvania, Indiana and North Carolina, respectively, and has an economic impact of at least $40 billion in each state. And through our support of clinical trials and work with vendors, our sector has a significant impact beyond the places where we have a brick and mortar presence.

As I shared with the panelists, Astellas Pharma U.S. is based in Illinois – another terrific region for innovation – but our company spent approximately $39 million in 2011 in Pennsylvania, Indiana and North Carolina on clinical trials and vendors.

Thanks in large part to Governors Corbett, McCroy, Pence and others around the country who believe in creating an environment that promotes innovation, there are approximately 3,400 medicines in development in the U.S. to tackle some of the most devastating diseases including cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, that help us achieve our ultimate goal of helping patients.

However, sustaining the promise of medical innovation requires real policy innovation focused on fostering R&D and ensuring access to medicines. This latter point often gets lost, but is vital at a time when the costs and complexity of innovation are colliding with a decreasing willingness by insurers to pay for new medicines. As just one example, we need to ensure that out-of-pocket costs for new medicines are within reach for patients – and in proportion with other types of health services.

As an industry, we look forward to continuing to work in partnership with policymakers and other stakeholders to champion policies and nurture innovation that brings new treatments to patients and continues to stimulate local economies.


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