One prescription for U.S. economic growth
Pharmaceutical innovation is key to securing America’s edge

After withering under six years of financial storm clouds, the U.S. economic forecast appears to be showing new life. But leaders in government and business have work to do if they want to create an environment that not only encourages continued growth, but accelerates it versus global competitors.

One area ripe for harvest: U.S. biopharmaceuticals.

The U.S. currently leads the world in biopharmaceutical invention. And according to a new report by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) and the Battelle Technology Partnership Practice, this pioneering role and investment in innovation not only creates a favorable environment for improved patient outcomes and the development of new medicines, it could also help spur the U.S. economy by adding more than 300,000 jobs in the next 10 years.

The report looks at two possible 10-year trajectories. One examines a future of continued investment and growth, while the other imagines the U.S. falling behind competitor nations, including Brazil, Singapore and China, which are investing in their own biopharmaceutical industries. Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom have been longstanding competitors in this sector as well.

The differentiator? Whether or not the U.S. embraces advanced policies.

If current trends continue, industry leaders cited in the report predict the next 10 years will bring only modest growth, and biopharmaceutical companies could lose nearly 150,000 jobs, according to the report.

A lack of investment in innovation could have major implications for both the overall economy and the biopharmaceutical industry, which generates nearly $790 billion in the U.S. each year, supports more than 3 million jobs and helps improve the quality of life for millions of Americans.

“The message is clear: the continued success of the biopharmaceutical industry — both in delivering life-saving and life-enhancing medicines to patients and in contributing to U.S. economic growth — is dependent on thoughtful, forward-looking policies that prioritize innovation,” says John J. Castellani, President and CEO of PhRMA.

What are the factors that promote growth? The report outlines a number of recommendations, including the following:

  • Increase understanding around the costs of new product development.
  • Ensure appropriate protection for intellectual property and promote access to innovative medicines to give biopharmaceutical companies the incentive they need to continue to develop cutting-edge therapies.
  • Ensure that startup efforts have the private financial backing they need to develop new medicines.
  • Revise the drug-approval process to help get new medications to market more quickly.
  • Back educational efforts to create a strong workforce.
  • Provide economic innovation incentives to fuel growth.

The current regulatory climate without these changes may stifle growth and have a negative effect on innovation.

“This report vividly illustrates the inextricable link between a healthy biopharmaceutical R&D system and the health care policy environment,” says Robert J. Hugin, PhRMA Immediate Past Chairman and CEO of Celgene Corporation, in a written release. “Sustainable, market-based access and reimbursement for innovative medicines today is essential to incentivize the long-term, high-risk investment needed for new medical innovations in the future.”

The ability to innovate quickly is becoming the most important determinant of economic growth and a nation’s ability to compete and prosper in the 21st century global knowledge-based economy. As this new report indicates, the U.S. must focus squarely on ensuring that its policies help encourage such invention, not hinder it.