The fight against disease has been a part of every President’s service; testing the nation’s resolve, inspiring hope and forging an increasingly important relationship between government, biopharmaceutical research companies and academia.
All three partners have historically depended on one another to combat some of the deadliest diseases facing patients in the U.S. and around the world.
The government, for example, is a critical component in advancing medical innovation through the policies and programs it supports. Federal research institutions and academia conduct a lot of basic research and the biopharmaceutical industry often translates that research into the development of life-enhancing medicines.
Without public and private partnerships, it would have been nearly impossible to discover a vaccine for adults and children facing polio in the 1950s – as well as provide millions of people with access to the vaccine – and help the millions of HIV/AIDS patients in the 1990s and today live to see another day.
What would the health care landscape look like today if these partnerships hadn’t existed? One could guess that we wouldn’t have made as much progress as we have in defeating or lessening the burden and cost of disease over time.
Would the childhood cancer survival rate have increased 60 percent between 1970 and today? Would heart disease-related deaths have plummeted to historic lows? Probably not.
Over the last several decades, specific pieces of legislation such as the Orphan Drug Act, the Pediatric Research Equity Act and the recently passed Prescription Drug User Fee Act have all became law and have helped create an environment conducive to medical innovation. But real progress requires more than these actions alone.
It requires a consistent regulatory and public policy framework that supports medical innovation and recognizes the value of medicines as a source of better health outcomes and potential savings to the U.S. health care system. And importantly, it also requires continued collaboration among the public and private sectors.
As we approach President Obama’s inauguration on Monday, we must continue to reflect on the incredible innovation moments that have helped define our nation and serve as an inspiration to improve the health care landscape well into the future.
Just as presidential inaugurations serve as symbol of hope and inspiration, so too are the innovative breakthroughs that have helped millions of patients in the U.S. and around the world combat disease.