Ours to Lose: Not Just Jobs, But Medical Progress

Ours to Lose: Not Just Jobs, But Medical Progress

07.13.11 | By Kate Connors

Monday, we discussed how policies that undercut the biopharmaceutical research sector could lead to huge job losses, with an annual reduction in sector revenue of $20 billion potentially leading to as many as 260,000 lost jobs.

The example I used - government-mandated rebates in Medicare Part D - could be just such a job-killing policy.
But those 260,000 workers aren't the only people who would be affected by such a policy change.
Medicare Part D has been an overwhelming success, providing America's seniors with unprecedented access to medicines - the medicines that many of them need in order to stay healthy (to read more about the program, click here). And those medicines are the result of biopharmaceutical research companies' serious commitment to R&D, which requires the investment of massive amounts of time and resources.
Imposing what would, effectively, be price-setting on a program in which companies already provide rebates as high as 20 to 30 percent, the resulting loss to the sector would invariably have a chilling effect on investment in R&D.
This research and development offers promise for patients and, ultimately, for helping to control healthcare costs. For example, medicines help delay nursing home placement for patients with Alzheimer's disease, with 50 percent of untreated patients admitted to nursing homes after three years, compared with just 11 percent of treated patients. While that represents a cost savings, it also, more importantly, means better quality of life for those battling Alzheimer's.
Meanwhile, the development of a new treatment that delays the onset of the disease could reduce Medicare and Medicaid spending by more than $100 billion annually by 2030.
Good thing biopharmaceutical research companies are studying more than 100 new medicines to treat Alzheimer's and other dementias.
I've said it before - innovation doesn't happen in a vacuum. Those who want to reap the benefits of the breakthroughs of the future must be willing to support the work required today.

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