New PCAST Report Puts Spotlight on Importance of Innovation

New PCAST Report Puts Spotlight on Importance of Innovation

12.04.12 | By

In November, the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) issued a report focusing on what they view as the necessary steps to help ensure that the U.S. remains the world leader in innovation. This report couldn't have come at a better time as many other countries around the world are eyeing to take our spot and are putting into place pro-innovation policies and programs meant to attract R&D-intensive sectors such as the biopharmaceutical sector to create more jobs and help improve their economy.

The authors of the report asserted that without adequate support for research, "the U.S. is at risk of losing its leadership in invention and discovery-the driving force behind the new industries and jobs that have propelled the U.S. economy over the past century." To prevent this from happening, they outlined several recommendations to help solidify America's stronghold on innovation, including making the R&D tax credit permanent and bolstering efforts to get students interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education.

We wholeheartedly agree with these two recommendations and believe that our industry should be viewed as a critical part of the solution in helping to create an innovative 21st Century workforce, as evidenced by member company STEM efforts here.

As we stated in our press release about the report, medical innovation is the bedrock of the biopharmaceutical industry, yet the challenging regulatory and legislative environment continues to threaten the lifeblood of the most R&D-intensive sectors in the United States.

There is no doubt that the fiscal pressures we face as a nation are great but if we want to get serious about setting a new course and improving the innovation and economic landscape in America, then we need a consistent public policy framework that preserves and promotes medical innovation at the national level.

As an industry that supports millions of U.S. jobs and contributes significantly to the growth of the economy - $917 billion annually - the country cannot afford to lose innovative engines of invention and discovery.

Over the last decade, PhRMA member companies alone invested $500 billion in the research and development of new therapies. In the same time period, the biopharmaceutical industry, oftentimes partnering with academia and federal research institutions, have brought more than 300 new medicines to patients suffering from diseases such as cancer, HIV/AIDS and diabetes.

Let me end by saying that science and research define the industry I represent. Just last week, I met with a scientist at one of our member companies in Massachusetts who for years has been researching a potential new medicine for multiple sclerosis (MS). She was so full of energy and had a focus that I've never seen before. She told me about all of the MS patients she met over the years and how every day they are an inspiration for her to find a cure. At the end of our conversation she said she will never give up, despite all of the challenges in the drug development process.

We all hope that one day there will be a cure for MS and other devastating diseases, but if public policies that undermine medical innovation move forward, then that hope all but vanishes.

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