Today, the biotechnology industry is enjoying more success and influence than ever before. Our industry’s innovations continue to improve the lives of people worldwide, and the advancement of these innovations is supported by the work of BIO. But these are challenging times. Our continued success is not assured, and we must neither rest on past accomplishments nor retreat from new challenges.
At last year’s BIO International Convention, I sketched a bold vision of what I believed the industry must achieve: Greater access to our innovative medicines, at lower prices. Improvements in drug safety, ultimately at lower cost. The continued advancement of the agricultural revolution. The growth of renewable energy with low or near-zero carbon footprints. And a cleaner environment.
The industry—and BIO—witnessed major strides toward achieving these lofty goals over the past year and are today on a trajectory
to make even greater advancements in the year to come. And there is still much to do. Thanks in no small part to BIO’s world-class advocacy team, major FDA legislation passed that provides resources to strengthen post-market safety. We made the case against
raising Medicaid rebates and hastily enacting poorlyreasoned comparative effectiveness legislation, and we pressed for major energy legislation that tripled the mandate for renewable biofuels.
Our tenacity on the regulatory front was rewarded by FDA’s long-awaited risk assessment fi nding that food derived from cloned animals is safe—a major step forward for this technology. The coming year will bring even more opportunities for BIO to showcase the importance of biotechnology on a number of vital issues. Lawmakers are taking up key efforts affecting our industry, such as patent reform and follow-on biologics legislation. Come next January, a new administration will take over the White House and will undoubtedly bring a new perspective and new ideas to the troubled American health care system.
Whatever happens, change is certain, and BIO will be ready for it. BIO has an outstanding record of delivering the message of biotech innovation to federal and state policymakers across the country. But now it’s time to bring that message to a much broader public and to raise and to deepen the impact of that messaging. A BIO-sponsored public opinion survey found that while 78 percent of voters considered curing diseases as a top national issue, only 45 percent had a favorable opinion of the biotechnology companies on the forefront of this effort. However, nearly twice that number—86 percent—voiced favorable opinions of biotech after being told about the industry’s pioneering approaches to treating disease, creating alternative energy sources and combating worldwide hunger and malnutrition. So, why this disconnect? And more importantly, what will BIO do about it?
The work of biotechnology companies is incredibly challenging. With such challenge, there are inevitable disappointments.
Unfortunately, we often hear more about setbacks than progress; such is the unfortunate zeitgeist of the online age, where the negative and conspiratorial more readily dominate attention than the hopeful and true. This is far more than a public relations issue. It is clear that unless we proactively and compellingly present the facts about the benefits and potentials of biotechnology, vital innovations could be held back by public misinformation.