Our life science innovation ecosystem connects curiosity-driven basic science with its profit-driven private sector development and distribution. Its commercialization bridge has two other keystone components, its R&D on-ramp, and its private sector off-ramp. Politico reports that earlier this week, a high-level White House discussion was held by with President Trump, Secretary Price, Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner and biomedical experts included drugmakers and leading university and hospital officials. The meeting’s invitation list reflects appropriate recognition of our closely integrated life science innovation ecosystem. Significantly, not discussed were NIH budget cuts to our commercialization bridge’s on-ramp or biopharmaceutical price controls which would undermine its off-ramp. According to NIH’s Francis Collins, the meeting focused on the importance to the economy of a strong U.S. biomedical research enterprise, including the role of government-funded research.
Reading the White House is difficult, but the meeting’s discussants and matters discussed indicate White House understanding of our life science innovation ecosystem’s infrastructure and its full complement of keystone components. Meanwhile on another important front, below are excerpts from a May 10, letter to the WSJ written by Rep.Tom Cole whose support for NIH funding is both critical and matched by his Democratic colleagues. Here is part of what he said about the recent budget action supporting NIH.
“I appreciate the support of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle who also recognize the important work being done by the NIH. This is a nonpartisan issue. The funding we secured for the NIH was supported by every member of the subcommittee and was clearly not a partisan vote. Supporting the pre-eminent institution researching the causes and cures of our country’s most devastating diseases has long been a Republican priority. The devastating human consequences of diseases like Alzheimer’s and cancer are evident to every compassionate person. However, many people fail to recognize the enormous costs these diseases impose on the federal government as well as individual families. Investing money to seek cures is the right thing to do. It is also the smart thing to do. I hope Congress will continue to prioritize the NIH in the coming 2018 fiscal year. Curing diseases can save and improve millions of lives while reducing federal expenditures in Medicaid and Medicare by billions of dollars.”