Thursday, September 29, 2011

Revving the Engine that Propels Us

by Gillian Parrish, Manager, Alliance Development and Communications, FasterCures

Over the past few decades, the U.S. has created and refined an extremely productive framework for developing new biomedical innovations and bringing them to the marketplace.  In fact, the biomedical sector directly and indirectly accounts for some 5 million U.S. jobs, including 1.2 million high-wage private sector jobs in pharma, biotech, medical devices, research and testing. 
However, for the first time since the 1980’s, U.S. preeminence in biomedicine is in jeopardy, vulnerable to falling behind growing powers in Europe and Asia thanks to regulatory, policy, and funding efforts in those nations that offer incentives for innovation and support entrepreneurship in a way the U.S. does not.

The history of our country’s rise to leadership in biomedical innovation, and a suggested roadmap for overcoming the factors that now challenge our dominance in the global market, is the focus of a new Milken Institute Study, The Global Biomedical Industry: Preserving U.S. LeadershipReleased last week at a Washington D.C. briefing co-hosted by the Council for American Medical Innovation, the report offers specific policy recommendations that will ensure the industry continues to grow and flourish here, including:
  • Increase R&D tax incentives and make them permanent.
  • Cut corporate tax rates to match the OECD average.
  • Extend support for emerging biomedical research fields.
  • Provide adequate resources for the FDA and NIH to expedite regulatory reviews and clinical trials.
  • Leverage existing strengths in medical devices.
  • Build human capital for biomedical innovation.
  • Promote and expand the role of universities by adopting best practices in technology transfer and commercialization.
It makes a compelling case for action, and reinforces FasterCures long-held position that no one sector can do this alone.  It will take collaboration – universities and businesses, corporations working together, private equity entrepreneurs willing to invest in high-risk, high-impact R&D models, innovative intellectual property arrangements, etc. – to maintain U.S. leadership in biomedicine. 

“As recently as 1980, European companies dominated the industry,” said Ross DeVol, Chief Researchers at the Milken Institute. “Unless we act soon and act smartly, we’ll wake up in five to ten years with no products and nothing in the pipeline. This is our industry to lose.”

“The alarm this report sets off is very real,” said Jim Greenwood, President and CEO of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), at last week's event. “The fear that the U.S. is losing its competitive edge is well-founded.  If we want to have more cancer cures than iPads, we have to invest in them.”

Strengthening the biomedical sector should be central to our country’s economic platform. Government, particularly the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), should work with the private sector to get more and better therapies to patients. 

“The 21st century is going to be the century of life sciences,” said Stephen Ubl, President and CEO of the Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed).  “The question is: will it be made in America or somewhere else?” 

Many countries are building the infrastructure for biomedical research, and courting the companies who drive it.  Our current leadership is in question, and comes with no long-term guarantee.  But if the advocacy and policy communities can come together to tap into our nation’s most unique attribute – our collaborative, innovative spirit – we can take the decisive steps necessary to not only maintain, but grow our leadership in biomedicine.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Five reasons why you should be at Partnering for Cures

Partnering for Cures is an opportunity to find allies who can help you advance your medical research goals, and a platform for solutions needed to accelerate progress.

Five reasons why you should register now and be in New York City on November 6-8, 2011:
  1. Find the partner who could make a difference. Whether you're looking for an investor or a collaborator, a customized partnering system allows you to easily find potential allies from all sectors of medical research.
  2. See collaboration in action. Collaboration is the name of the game at this meeting. Hear case study presentations from 30 cross-sector programs with innovative paths to advance their R&D goals. A unique opportunity to get a pulse on trends and best practices in real time.
  3. Problem-solve with medical research leaders. Every panel discussion will be focused on addressing some of medical research's top concerns in concrete ways. The goal of each panel is not just to inform (or entertain) – but to leave you with real transformative ideas you can run with, best practices you can emulate, and lessons learned you can build from.
    Diverse and dynamic panels include: • Regulating Risk: Clearing New Pathways for Progress at FDA
    • Streamlining Drug Repurposing and Approval
    • Philanthropy As Risk Capital
    • Business Is from Mars, Academia Is from Venus
    • Intellectual Property: The Lawyers' Debate
    • Staying Afloat in a Sea of Data
    • Convergence: The Death of Disciplinary Science
    And many more
  4. Get expert advice to help you make informed decisions. Whether it's structuring collaborations or deals, developing marketing strategies, or crafting appropriate intellectual property policies, experts will be available on-site for one-on-one, free consultation sessions to help address your challenges.
    Experts on-site to provide you with pro bono analysis and feedback on:• Strategic planning
    • Structuring deals and collaborations
    • Attracting philanthropic capital
    • Communications and marketing
    • Interacting with the FDA
  5. Share your ideas openly. Expand your echo chamber and significantly increase your friends and family list. Speeding medical progress requires unconventional approaches from nontraditional allies. Partnering for Cures provides you with a safe haven to explore the possibilities.
For more information, visit

RELATED CONTENT: Podcast of BIOTech Now interview with FasterCures executive director Margaret Anderson on the importance of partnering across sectors.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

FDA’s Work IS Essential

By Margaret Anderson, Executive Director, FasterCures
“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration provides essential benefits to consumers and patients, and there is no backstop, no other agency, that performs this critical work.” –Alliance for a Stronger FDA* ad, September 2011
No other agency touches American lives daily – consider the products we consume the first 30 minutes of each day– the list of products regulated by this one agency is long. And yet, despite such big responsibilities, its budget has not always kept pace.

As the US Senate Appropriations Committee considers funding levels for the agency. Here’s hoping that the Committee consider the vast needs of this chronically underfunded, but critically important entity:

- Increased funding at the FDA will allow the agency to bolster its scientific infrastructure and expertise and be able to more effectively take the baton of medical innovation from the medical research community and bring it into the marketplace, where scores of patients impatiently await access to potentially life-saving therapies and life-enhancing scientific advances.

A few weeks ago, FDA provided details on exactly how it will go about doing this through its strategic plan for regulatory science. Priorities include stimulating personalized medicine programs, developing medical countermeasures to protect threats to global security, and ensuring agency capability to evaluate new, innovative technologies.

In an editorial in The Wall Street Journal, FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said that the agency is “actively taking steps to improve the clarity, consistency and predictability of our regulatory systems. At the same time, we are working with the broader scientific community to address issues of scientific uncertainty that slow medical-product development and review.”

- Increased funding at the FDA will support industries that are essential to our nation’s growth and prosperity and create high-paying American jobs. Consider that the bioscience industry, which depends on FDA for regulation of its medical device and therapeutic products, directly employed 1.42 million people in the United States in 2008 and generated an additional eight million related jobs**.

An FDA that’s functioning at peak performance can spur economic growth and accelerate the process of bringing to market promising breakthroughs that can help improve the quality of life, and even save lives.

*FasterCures is a member of the Alliance for a Stronger FDA. Margaret Anderson, FasterCures executive director is the Alliance’s vice president.
** The U.S. FDA: A Cornerstone of America’s Economic Future