April 27, 2007
Over the past 30 years, biotechnology has come to represent an American success story, says James C. Mullen, president and CEO of Biogen Idec, Inc. and chairman of the Biotechnology Industry Organization.
- With 1,400 public and private companies employing tens of thousands of people, the United States is universally considered to be the global biotech leader.
- America can brag that its biotechnology companies capture about 75 percent of the global revenue, have a highly educated, well-paid work force, conduct most of their research, development and manufacturing here at home, and are a net exporter in foreign trade.
- In fact, in the pursuit of scientific excellence, several of the larger European pharmaceutical companies have chosen to "outsource" biotech-related R&D operations to the United States.
But perhaps the most important metric for America's biotechnology industry is the impact on the lives of real patients. Simply put, the industry has helped transform science into real cures -- which has meant less death and disability for patients, says Mullen.
Yet while we have seen great progress, the unmet need is considerable:
- About 1,500 people die every day in this country from cancer;
- An estimated 4.5 million Americans have Alzheimer's disease. This number has doubled since 1980.
- There are approximately 400,000 MS patients in the United States every week, about 200 more patients are diagnosed.
- Thousands of patients today suffer from rare genetic disorders. Many of us have never even heard of these diseases -- but they traumatize patients, and leave behind a trail of broken, frustrated families.
What Congress does and does not do over the next two years may well impact the future of biotechnology -- and all of us -- for decades to come, says Mullen.
Source: James C. Mullen, "Gene Therapy," Wall Street Journal, April 27, 2007.
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