The Global Biomedical Industry: Preserving U.S. Leadership

Sep 22, 2011
Publisher: Milken Institute

The United States is still the global leader in the biomedical industry, but countries across Europe and Asia are pursuing aggressive plans to close the gap and take the high-value jobs and capital this sector creates.

The stakes are high: The biomedical sector directly and indirectly accounts for some 5 million U.S. jobs (including 1.2 million high-wage private-sector jobs in pharmaceuticals, biotech, medical devices, research and testing).

Multiple factors leave the U.S. vulnerable to growing international competition: increasing complexity and uncertainty in the FDA's approval processes, especially as these relate to medical devices; government funding cuts; and federal tax policies that are not globally competitive.

European and Asian nations are investing heavily in research as well as improving access to capital for biotech start-ups. They are also taking a page from the U.S. playbook as they standardize their regulatory regimes and offer better incentives for innovation.

Beyond the established biopharmaceutical leaders in Europe and Japan, China, India and Singapore are making impressive strides in building their capacity for research, clinical testing and manufacturing. The world's best scientific talent traditionally flocked to the U.S., but today these highly prized knowledge workers are finding new job opportunities at home.

U.S. policymakers must take these seven decisive steps for the nation to retain its lead in biomedical innovation:

  • Increase R&D tax incentives and make them permanent
  • Cut corporate tax rates to match the OECD average
  • Enhance support for emerging fields
  • Provide adequate resources for the FDA and the NIH
  • Leverage existing strengths in medical devices
  • Build human capital
  • Promote and expand the role of universities

"The Global Biomedical Industry: Preserving U.S. Leadership" was funded in part by a grant from the Council for American Medical Innovation. The views expressed in the report are solely those of the Milken Institute.