Jun 16, 2017 - 12:30pm

Leading the U.S. in Medicine Through Investment and Innovation


Intern, Media and External Communications

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A scientist works inside the new lab at the GlaxoSmithKline Plc facility in Collegeville, Pennsylvania. Photographer: Eric Thayer/Bloomberg

If there’s a field over the last 100 years that technology and innovation have been instrumental in propelling forward, it’s health care. Since 1934, mortality rates have dropped roughly 60% thanks to the benefits of progress in medicine.

Wednesday morning, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce hosted “Solving The Drug-Pricing Challenge: Policy Reforms To Expand Drug Access, Accelerate Innovation, And Grow The Economy,” an event focused on affordable access to prescription drugs while also encouraging innovation in the medical industry. Former Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn, MD gave the keynote address and a panel discussion of distinguished writers and scholars followed afterward.

Dr. Coburn touched on several issues affecting American healthcare in the 21st century, namely the role of government in health care, the efficient use of resources, and policies to encourage technological innovation.

The former Senator stressed that the federal government is not always the solution: 

“Congress is not going to solve our health care dilemma, [but rather] markets will solve our health care dilemma.”

For Coburn, the American economy is an “unbeatable” force and it is what will propel the United States to the forefront of medicine. Not only does Coburn suggest that the United States should “restore personal accountability in health care,” but also “reward efficiency” and best practices. He asserted that if American resources are used efficiently, then the U.S. will remain ahead.

In addition to better use of American resources and services, Coburn expressed concern with protection of intellectual property (IP) and the continuation of innovation in medicine. He argued that investing in technology jobs should be a top priority for the industry. Coburn credits the innovations of Silicon Valley for not only creating biotech jobs, but also putting the U.S. at the cutting edge of innovation.

He does have a point. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s International Intellectual Property (IP) Index, economies with more robust IP protection hold a number of advantages over their weaker counterparts. They are more likely to contribute to biotech innovation, have 15 times more investment in the life sciences, and have access to more clinical trials on new drugs.

With encouraged innovation, Coburn believes that we will solve this dilemma. But this issue is not solely based on price. It also hinges on giving Americans access to resources that allow doctors, researchers, and scientists to find cures and move medicine forward.

Near the end of his speech, Coburn remarked, “We want to lead the world” in regard to medicine. With investment in research and development and efficient use of resources, Coburn’s dream can certainly become a reality. It depends on if we’re willing to foster a new generation of cures by investing heavily in innovation, competition, and technology.

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About the Author

About the Author

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Intern, Media and External Communications

Heather McPherson is the Media and External Communications intern at the Chamber.