National Press Club

Innovation Key to Economic Progress, PhRMA Executive Tells NPC Newsmaker

September 24, 2012 | By Keith M. Hill |

Innovation is the key to economic progress in the United States and the pharmaceutical industry is the most innovative, said John Castellani, president and chief executive officer of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), at a National Press Club Newsmaker Sept. 20.

The pharmaceutical industry has been the leading generator of patents for the last five years, Castellani said. Innovation in the pharmaceutical industry has also lead to new and improved treatments for diseases such as AIDS and cancer, he added.

Between 2001-2011, 340 medicines were approved, and there are now 3,000 potential medicines in development, Castellani told attendees.

Noting that President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. and Republican presidental nominee Mitt Romney are very close on the issue of research and development, Castellani said that policy makers and the private sector must work together to help maintain this country’s research and development lead.

The U.S. leads the world in research and development mainly because of the pharmaceutical industry, according to PhRMA. Last year, research and development in the biopharmaceutical sector represented 20 percent of all research and development undertaken by U.S. businesses, PhRMA said.

In 2012, the biopharmaceutical research industry will have invested $500 billion in research and development since 2000, PhRMA said. It takes from 10 to 15 years to develop one drug, at an average cost of about $1.2 billion, according to PhRMA.

The main thing lawmakers can do is to build a modern regulatory system to control health care costs and improve health, Castellani said.

The biopharmaceutical industry contributes more than 650,000 direct jobs to the U.S. economy and is the fourth leading export industry in the country, Castellani said.

However, budget cuts related to sequestration and competition from countries such as China and India could threaten this country’s innovative edge, Castellani said.

Right now, the health care picture is incomplete mainly because policy makers treat medications as a commodity while ignoring the fact that they save lives, Castellani said.

Consistent use of medicines by individuals can help reduce health care costs, Castellani said.