Biopharmaceutical research and development needs policy support

That’s why we are pleased that the committee is “exploring new policy actions” to incentivize and encourage additional R&D investment in the U.S., which in turn will sustain and help grow jobs across the country and lead to new treatments.

Despite the recent challenging economic and policy environment, biopharmaceutical companies continue to invest heavily in research and development, investing a record $67.4 billion last year alone. We – and others in the arena, such as venture capital investors – understand well that we must invest today in order to preserve our business and, ultimately, to develop new medicines that can help patients tomorrow. 

And even during this recession, the more than 650,000 workers employed by biopharmaceutical research companies continue to work with purpose, looking ahead not necessarily to economic recovery, but rather to when their research, after an average of 10 to 15 years, yields fruit in the form of a potentially groundbreaking new medicine.

All across the sector, our companies – fueled by our employees – have worked through this recession to keep afloat. And we’re proud to say that we did it without aid or interference from the government, without taking tax dollars from the American people to stay above water.

Still, we seek assistance from our federal lawmakers in the form of sound policy decisions that support the innovative work that biopharmaceutical companies do – and the jobs that they provide. We hope that Wednesday’s hearing provides a forum for us to spread this message to the lawmakers whose constituents are our employees, as well as the patients we serve and the total of 3 million workers whose jobs are supported by the sector.

The fact is, across America, individual states are promoting the life sciences sector, seeking to attract and grow jobs and enjoy the many benefits that the sector provides.

Similarly, outside the U.S., governments are working to lure our companies to their shores. They each want a chance to become the world’s medicine cabinet, recognizing the economic contributions and high-value jobs that it entails. 

Without federal policies that mirror those state efforts, America will lose ground as the world leader in medical innovation as our states compete not with each other, but with the competitive policies embraced by governments in other markets. Without these policies, we will leave Pennsylvania to compete with Singapore and Texas to compete with India.

Unfortunately, the U.S. is far from policies that support innovation; all too often we find ourselves defending against quite the opposite – policies that would inadvertently limit our ability to grow.

Our sector does not just provide jobs, it provides quality jobs. These jobs contribute as much as three times as much in state and federal taxes as employees in the rest of the economy.

The sector’s per-employee investment in research and development dwarfs other innovative industries. And the sector’s per-employee contribution to GDP is twice that of sectors in the rest of the economy – including those in the high-tech and computer fields that many members of the public would considering to be the most innovative.

And most importantly, biopharmaceutical company workers contribute to the discovery and development of life-saving new medicines – medicines that have saved millions of lives, that have changed fatal diseases into controllable chronic conditions, and that offer the potential for breakthroughs in countless unmet medical needs in the coming years.

We certainly recognize that “innovation” means different things to different people. For some, it may mean better sound quality while listening to music, or a better track wheel on their phone. For our sector, and for our employees as well as the patients that we serve, “innovation” means jobs, and it also means life.

John J. Castellani is president and CEO of Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. Christopher A. Viehbacher is CEO of Sanofi, and chairman of the board at Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.