Connecting Some Dots on Innovation

Thoughts on President Obama's State of the Union Comments on Innovation

PhRMA StaffFebruary 9, 2011

President Obama's been speaking passionately about the importance of innovation to our economy recently. I was struck by his State of the Union speech where he said that: "Innovation doesn't just change our lives, it's how we make our living." That pretty well captures something we in the biopharmaceutical research sector have been talking about for a long time.

Today, U.S. biopharmaceutical companies drive global development of new medicines, investing billions of dollars in the U.S. economy in the process. Investment in drug research and development by the biopharmaceutical industry has significantly increased over the last 15 years from $48 billion in 2004 to $65 billion in 2009.

The health benefits for patients resulting from all this R&D are impressive: for example, in recent years we've seen declining death rates for cardiovascular disease, HIV/AIDS and even for cancers.

But as President Obama noted, innovation brings with it economic side benefits. U.S.-based innovative medical research also contributes to a healthy national economy. Studies show that every biopharmaceutical research sector job results in 3.7 other jobs economy-wide. In other words, the nearly 655,000 direct biopharmaceutical industry jobs helped create more than 2.4 million additional jobs.

So, when President Obama says - as he did Monday before the U.S. Chamber of Commerce - that American businesses should "set up shop here, and hire our workers, and pay decent wages, and invest in the future," we couldn't agree more.

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