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Biomedical innovation, preserving global health
Jun 12, 2012
Publisher: Tampa Tribune

The United States leads the world in biomedical industry, but unless we protect the environment for biomedical innovation, the country may fall behind. A recent study conducted by the Milken Institute found that reducing barriers to biomedical innovation in our country will help maintain our global leadership in this industry and secure jobs while making much-needed forward progress. The study, titled "The Global Biomedical Industry: Preserving U.S. Leadership," found there are several actions at the state and national levels that would improve the environment for biomedical innovation and help us retain our leadership in this era of heightened global competition.

  • Extend support for emerging biomedical research fields by building human capital for biomedical innovation.

    Gov. Rick Scott and Florida's academic and business leaders have recognized science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education as a priority. Attracting more students to the scientific industry will help build up our work force for biomedical innovation. We must enhance our STEM education efforts across the nation.

  • Continue to promote and expand the role of universities by adopting best practices in technology transfer and commercialization to increase biomedical innovation.

    While Florida and our country have had successful university technology transfer, there is variation in the efficiency of communication from one university to the next. Fostering open transfer of data between university medical scientists, technology transfer officials, industry experts, and investors will promote the sharing of best practices and encourage innovations that will lead to life-saving treatments.

  • Increase research and development tax incentives and cut corporate tax rates to match the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average.

    In order to encourage investment in R&D, we need to increase tax incentives permanently and compete with other counties through our tax rates. Variations in tax policies from country to country are often the deciding factor for companies choosing their location. The OECD promotes policies that improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world. The United States pioneered the policy of increasing tax incentives to encourage R&D, but it has not kept up with other OECD countries in recent years. The United States now ranks 17 out of 21 OECD members in the effective rate of the R&D tax credit. Additionally, as of April 1, we now have the highest combined federal and state tax rate in the world.

  • Provide adequate resources for the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health to expedite regulatory reviews and clinical trials and leverage existing strengths in medical devices.

    Expediting regulatory reviews and clinical trials would be a step in the right direction for biomedical innovation in the U.S. The FDA and NIH need additional resources and support to improve the review system. This means Congress should consider an increase in funding for the FDA and NIH for the adoption of more flexible, effective regulatory reviews. The FDA must be encouraged to create an efficient system for medical device approvals to ensure companies are not deterred from seeking approvals in the U.S. If the NIH is given additional resources to support clinical trials and translational research, we could see an increase in efficiency throughout the scientific community.

    The biomedical sector directly and indirectly means high wage jobs in pharmaceuticals, biotech, medical devices, research and testing. Please encourage innovation by supporting less restrictions, more research, STEM education and technology transfer. Now is the time to work together to reduce barriers to biomedical advancement in the U.S.

    Ross C. DeVol is chief research officer at the Santa Monica, Calif.-based Milken Institute and lead author of "The Global Biomedical Industry: Preserving U.S. Leadership."