Guest Post: New threats could fundamentally alter innovation in drug manufacturing

To stay competitive and foster biopharmaceutical innovation, we need a policy environment that attracts and encourages research and development.

Guest ContributorAugust 2, 2016

Guest Post: New threats could fundamentally alter innovation in drug manufacturing.

Conversations and healthy debate about issues facing our industry and the health care system are critical to addressing some of today’s challenges and opportunities. The Catalyst welcomes guest contributors, including patients, stakeholders, innovators and others, to share their perspectives and point of view. Views represented here may not be those of PhRMA, though they are no less key to a healthy dialogue on issues in health care today.

We’re pleased to host a guest blog from Robyn Boerstling, vice president, infrastructure, innovation and human resources policy, National Association of Manufacturers.

From the moment research begins to the time a drug enters the market, innovation lies at the heart of the pharmaceutical development and production process. Biopharmaceutical manufacturers excel at transforming dreams of lifesaving cures into products that fundamentally change lives for the better. And these dreams rely on a very real system of intellectual property (IP) rights that guarantees protections under law for our nation’s innovators so that they have the opportunity and ability to realize the benefits of their time, resources and investments.

To secure manufacturing competitiveness and maintain our current levels of innovation, we need a policy environment designed to attract and encourage research and development (R&D) under strong and robust IP protections. But recently, lawmakers in several states have undertaken the very opposite approach, and if successful, these actions will have a devastating effect on our ability to discover and produce the next generation of lifesaving drugs.

Several state legislatures have introduced measures to require biopharmaceutical manufacturers to publicly reveal highly sensitive operational information, such as pricing on specific products, planned research investments and manufacturing production costs. These efforts undermine existing IP protections and laws and threaten to stop innovation in its tracks. No manufacturer should be compelled to reveal decades’ worth of R&D and put their discoveries—protected under law—at risk.

These proposals also jeopardize the broader manufacturing community and its pathways to innovation on a national scale. Our manufacturers perform more than three-quarters of all private sector R&D in the United States and receive more patents than any other industry. A recent survey by the National Association of Manufacturers reported that more than 80 percent of manufacturers said they would consider such actions a threat to their competitiveness, and nearly half would curtail future investments as a result.

These are more than just statistics. In the world of pharmaceuticals, less R&D and investments in innovation mean fewer revolutionary treatments for life-threatening and debilitating diseases. It’s a simple equation with enormous and very real consequences. We cannot let these foolish and misguided attempts at transparency impede our ability to innovate and alter the very foundation of progress. Accordingly, assaults on IP on one industry sector are assaults on all manufacturing industries and will be countered as such.

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