But how did we get here? Consider current public sentiment in the U.S. and how it ties back to policies and investments put in place – in some cases – more than 40 years ago.
87% of Americans agree the coronavirus pandemic has shown how important it is for drug companies to make significant investments in research and development, according to a Public Opinion Strategies internal poll late last year.
- This biopharmaceutical industry leadership is, in part, tied to the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980, as well as other legal and regulatory frameworks. Bayh-Dole specifically allows federally funded researchers to patent inventions and license those patents to companies who then invest in further research and development – leveraging capabilities in an effort to commercialize a product for patients. Such protections and policy frameworks have led to an innovation ecosystem that generations more new medicines than any other country in the world – for example 53 novel drug approvals in 2020 including the first approved treatment for COVID-19.
- Importantly, this innovation “engine” has an exponential ability to help spur future breakthroughs. Consider the COVID-19 vaccines using mRNA and viral vector technology; they mark a new beginning for vaccines and combatting viruses and other illnesses, such as cancers, and open an entirely new world of insights and discoveries.
- A strong innovation ecosystem enables collaboration on everything from discovery of new medicines to distribution of those medicines across the country and world. Thus, the country is well poised to continue to innovate and drive needed solutions, such as more efficient vaccine delivery. In addition, investments in advanced biopharmaceutical manufacturing and infrastructure facilitate innovation delivery from the lab to the patient. Long recognizing that biopharmaceutical manufacturing provides the critical link between the discovery of a medicine and its availability to patients, the U.S. biopharmaceutical industry has heavily invested in manufacturing capabilities to pave the way for this innovation; the industry’s capital investments in facilities increased by 17% from 2010 to 2016. The resulting capabilities differentiates the country among most other markets worldwide, providing not only resources to meet patient needs but skilled jobs and a strong economic driver.