#PhRMA12: John Castellani's Passionate Plea for Industry

#PhRMA12: John Castellani's Passionate Plea for Industry

04.12.12 | By Kate Connors

PhRMA President and CEO John J. Castellani began his remarks at our annual meeting on a personal note: "My hope, especially for my grandson, is that we will in the future have the innovative medicines to help treat what ails us. To ease our pain. To manage and cure our diseases. Everybody in this room shares that hope, not only for yourself, but for those you love."

As I've said before on The Catalyst, we aren't just industry. We are patients ourselves, we are caregivers, and we are loved ones.

However, he asked, how do we keep the research pipeline flowing? The promise has never been greater: "Researchers believe that a final HIV cure is possible. Maybe soon, maybe not soon, but it's possible. Same with a growing number of cancers, of rare diseases, of many of today's chronic conditions. It will require perseverance and investment. It will require pushing back on the boundaries that limit us today."

He's right. And as he points out, that perseverance - that tremendous commitment to innovation - is a hallmark of the biopharmaceutical sector.

After all, just today we announced 2011 PhRMA member company investment in R&D of $49.5 billion. "Today, there are more than 3,200 medicines in clinical trials or under FDA review, up from 2,400 six years ago. These are numbers to celebrate. We can also take pride that our industry continues to make investments in the future, even in the midst of economic uncertainty."

And the benefit of this investment, as we've said before, doesn't just affect patients - the millions of patients who need us. That investment also benefit's America's economy: "According to the National Science Foundation, our sector accounts for 20 percent of all U.S. business investment in R&D. This is a staggering, underappreciated fact and we must shout it from the mountaintops."

For all of these reasons - for our patients and for America's economy, and for the long-term healthcare costs that we can help avoid by treating patients now - "we need a strong, dynamic U.S. pharmaceutical sector."

It's going to take not just continued investment, but new, innovative ways of doing things. It'll take collaboration with the best experts, and it'll take open minds. As Castellani said, challenges don't just disappear: "The science is hard. And with every breakthrough, it gets harder."

As he concluded, Castellani grew increasingly passionate, asking of our harshest critics: "How dare they question our commitment to responsible science and the patients that we serve? Patients whose lives are transformed in part by the medicines made by our industry."

He urged of us in the room: "How do we dare to see the progress of the past 100 years as a mere prologue to the magic that can be had in the next 100 years. We have the answer. We are daring to do just that."

Follow Kate on Twitter @KateAtPhRMA.

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