by Cathy McMorris Rodgers from Forbes:
Seven years ago, just hours after giving birth to our son Cole, I learned how a single diagnosis can change your whole life. How two simple words – Down syndrome – are associated with lifelong complications and heart defects and Leukemia and even early Alzheimer’s. But in that moment, when Cole was taken away for surgery and we reeled from the lifetime of uncertainty that suddenly lay before us, I learned firsthand how scientific advancement saves lives.
While breakthroughs in medicine and technology have given hope to Cole and so many millions like him – whether they have Down syndrome or Autism or cancer – we still have a long way to go to remain the world leader in innovation. In fact, of the 7,000 known diseases, we only have treatments for 500 of them. It is one of the greatest and noblest causes of our time: to commit ourselves, as a country and a Congress, to saving lives.
That is why, as part of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, we have launched the 21st Century Cures initiative, whose mission is to expedite the discovery, development, and delivery of new and innovative treatments to patients everywhere. We need to leverage technological advances to rethink how we conduct research and break down outdated administrative and procedural hurdles. We are committed to reducing the time and complexity of clinical trials so Americans have the best, most effective treatments right here at home.
In order for America to remain the leader in medical innovation, we must reduce costs, ease regulatory burdens, and increase the efficacy of producing new treatments and cures here in the U.S. Recent studies have shown that the cost of developing a new drug now exceeds $1 billion – double the cost in the early 1980s – and it can take nearly 15 years to bring a drug to market. To ensure that America remains the leader in medical innovation, we must reduce the costs of developing life-saving drugs and ensure that there are appropriate economic incentives in place to produce them.
While America has taken the lead for many decades in the field of biomedical research – especially in early discovery – our leadership role is being threatened by other countries, whose research is sustained by both public and private contributions. In fact, in 2010, more biotechnology companies were formed in China than in the U.S. While global research is crucial, the U.S. must maintain its leadership role as the world’s innovator for both medical advancement and job creation. Our 21st Century Cures initiative explores how we can best achieve that. It examines how other countries incentivize investors, how public-private partnerships improve the discovery process, and how we can streamline the approval process to bring therapies to market more quickly. And as a Congress, we will ensure – with your ideas, big and small – that we can take medical advancement into the 21st century.
This goal is not political or partisan. It is personal. Medical innovation affects everyone: the man whose Alzheimer’s Disease has robbed him of his memory, the child who gives himself insulin shots before school every morning, or the woman who goes to the doctor because she found a lump on her right breast. We owe it to them to chart this course.
With the right policies and regulations, the opportunities for American medical advancement and scientific innovation are boundless. Every day, in laboratories all across the country, new treatments are being discovered and new life-saving drugs are being developed. Let’s make sure they’re produced and approved expeditiously. Let’s make sure innovative treatments for cancer and asthma and heart disease aren’t hindered by exorbitant costs. And let’s make sure that an ineffective regulatory framework doesn’t stand in the way of saving people’s lives. So that when we accompany our aging parents to the doctor, or help those we love endure chronic diseases, or receive diagnoses we never expected, we will still be filled with hope for all the possibilities that lie ahead.
Cathy McMorris Rodgers is the U.S. Representative for Washington’s 5th congressional district. She is also the Chair of the House Republican Conference.