Will America Remain a Global R&D Leader?

Will America Remain a Global R&D Leader?

03.15.12 | By

More than half of Americans doubt this country's ability to keep global research and development leadership. That was the focus of the Research!America forum I attended yesterday with PhRMA President & CEO John Castellani.

According to Scrip Intelligence, reporting on the forum, 58% of likely voters who responded to a recent survey doubted the U.S. would be the world leader in science and technology in 2020, while 53% responded they do not believe the nation will lead in health care by that year.

Needless to say, this should concern everyone. It should concern patients because when research and development of new medicines occurs in the U.S., it means that patients will likely have access to these medicines ahead of patients in the rest of the world. It should concern us all, because health R&D and healthcare innovation are important spurs to our economy and for job growth.

One challenge we face is talking about innovation and R&D in a way that the public both better understands and responds to, especially when it comes to fostering public policies that encourage and reward R&D and innovation.

Here's John Castellani's take: "What is incumbent upon us is to put it in the language voters are thinking about." He added that Americans must be convinced that science and innovation "drive economic growth."

"A great man once said, 'It's about the economy, stupid,'" Mr. Castellani said, pointing out that a vibrant economy requires investment in high-end and value-added innovation, such as pharmaceutical development.

"Nothing works any better than research-intensive economies," he said. "That's what is being pursued by China, by Russia, by India, by Brazil. Everybody else in the world gets it. It is incumbent on the United States to get it, or we will lose it."

From where I was sitting and hearing, it seems clear that no one industry and no single great idea or technological innovation prospers in a vacuum anymore (if they ever did). We need partnerships and collaborations amongst all stake holders - industry, academia, government, healthcare professionals and patients - to achieve public policies as well as the technological and R&D eco-system needed to maintain the U.S.'s role as a global innovation hub.

Follow Grady on Twitter @GradyAtPhRMA

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