PhRMA presented Washington with its legislative wish list – and a warning
that plenty of other countries are trying to woo the industry away from the US.
“Ever more, other countries are recognizing that a long-term commitment to science, technology and biomedical innovation is vital to enabling the biopharmaceutical industry to establish the foundation for economic growth and jobs of the future,” wrote Battelle Technology Partnership Practice in a white paper prepared for the trade group. While the US is still a great place for knowledge-based industries, said the report, “it should be recognized that international competition is rising and retaining US leadership will require the US to not only maintain but expand investments in R&D and commercialization, education, workforce development, financial capital and the nation's science and technology infrastructure, as well as consider overall favorability of the environment for innovation in the USA.”
The Battelle report looked at 18 countries, including the UK and the EU nations as well as emerging powerhouses China, Brazil and Russia, and found that half had a federal strategy for developing their biopharma or biotech sectors by building infrastructure, making capital available to startups and financing R&D. The US, by contrast, lacks a coordinated approach to these issues, having instead a muddle of often underfunded state and federal policies. Among PhRMA's prescriptions for US lawmakers are:
• Formal economic development and industrial policies focused on supporting “industry clusters” through development of science and technology parks and other infrastructure that promotes industry-university cross-pollination
• Increased national support for R&D and greater coordination between national and state efforts to invest in building R&D infrastructure, including research facilities, research parks and incubators
• Boosting the US's R&D tax credit, which was the first but is now much less than those offered by other countries
• Lowering the corporate tax rate
• Easing immigration policies that stymie the nation's ability to attract and retain skilled scientists and engineers
• Investing in science, technology, engineering and mathematics education – fields in which US schools are falling behind in
• Encouraging ground-floor venture capital investment, which the US continues to dominate, but which is shifting to later-stage deals
• Establishing a national development bank or similar vehicle for making equity investments in companies
“In an increasingly global economy, the future of US global biopharmaceutical leadership is not assured,” wrote Battelle. “Continued innovation is fundamental to US economic well-being and the nation's ability to compete effectively in the global economy.” On that point, it seems, both parties can agree.