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ITIF Reports on Economic and Innovative Opportunities from Brain R&D

July 28, 2016
Biotechnology is healing the world and saving lives on a daily basis by curing and preventing an array of diseases. Yet, when it comes to mental and neurological illnesses, there still remain a great many mysteries waiting to be solved. According to Information Technology & Innovation Foundation’s (ITIF) report, A Trillion-Dollar Opportunity: How Brain Research Can Drive Health and Prosperity, 50 million American adults suffer each year from neurodegenerative diseases, psychiatric disorders, and other brain disorders. With 21.8 percent of our population suffering, how is it that we still do not know what causes these brain conditions, how to properly treat them, or the effect they are having? The brain is begging to be explored so we can diagnose, treat, and cure these crippling diseases and disorders. As the report explains, this is not only an unmet health need, but by supporting biopharma innovation for mental and neurological health it is also a trillion-dollar opportunity for economic gain – vastly outweighing any research costs:
Spurring biopharmaceutical innovation to understand and cure brain diseases and disorders could improve health outcomes for more than 50 million Americans while increasing GDP by up to $1.5 trillion or more. [As such], policies that both increase federal funding for research into mental conditions and enable biopharmaceutical companies to invest more in mental health-related R&D should be incorporated as key components of a national economic growth strategy.

The report goes on to examine three main “thrusts” needed to help fill this unmet need of brain research: the costs of these diseases and disorders, the potential of biopharmaceutical innovation for treating and preventing, and policies needed to support brain innovation.
First, Congress needs to expand federal funding for brain - and mental health - related research. Indeed, the federal government has a crucial role to play in funding this early-stage research.

Second, in the debate over drug prices, policymakers need to remember that price controls come at the cost of reduced research, including in brain and mental health research.

Third, policy should seek to encourage private investment in mental-health innovation, in part by making the U.S. tax code more supportive of enterprise investment in scientific research, such as by expanding R&D tax credits, introducing an “innovation box” that would apply lower tax rates to profits earned on products developed using new intellectual property, and allowing foreign profits to be repatriated at a lower corporate tax rate if the monies are invested in research on mental and neurological health conditions.

Biotechnology has proven before that it can solve the unknown - just look how far we’ve come with gains in cancer survivorship, HIV/AIDS, and Hepatitis C to name but a few disease areas. We can only hope that Congress and policymakers recognize the significance of supporting brain innovation to gain an understanding of our most powerful organ and better tackle some of the most intractable diseases facing patients today.

Read the full report here.