Monthly Archives: June, 2012

A Weekly Advocacy Message from Mary Woolley: A likely topic of discussion over the next few days; how research relates

Dear Research Advocate,

Today, the Supreme Court surprised many in upholding most aspects of the Affordable Care Act. As the pundits and the blogosphere stoke continuing debate, candidates will stake out positions and policy makers will consider next steps. And everyone will have a point of view. As you express yours, I urge you to use a communication “bridge” to talk about the future of health and health care not only as an outcome of a court or legislative action, but as an outcome of research. Because of research, we live longer lives, death rates from heart disease have declined by 65% over the past 30 years, we don’t consider childhood cancer or HIV/AIDS a death sentence, and we confidently aspire to such challenges as defeating Alzheimer’s and autism, preventing strokes, and putting diabetes in the history books. We must stress that the end goals of health reform and health research are the same – to enable longer, healthier, more productive lives in a nation that efficiently and affordably discovers and delivers safe and effective health care and prevention of disease and disability.

Earlier this week the House and Senate cleared the FDA Safety and Innovation Act, formerly known as “PDUFA,” which the president is expected to sign shortly. As FDA Commissioner Peggy Hamburg noted at a Brookings Institution forum, the FDA is committed to regulatory flexibility. For instance, in response to advances in personalized medicine, FDA is open to approving a drug that works for a clearly identifiable subset of patients with a given disease, even if that drug is not effective for all patients.  Hamburg called the passage of the law “a landmark moment.” Read our press statement on this critical piece of legislation, passed in a bipartisan manner – an accomplishment in itself and an indication that more bipartisan agreement can take place.

Another way to think about the safe and effective use of drugs and devices involves the concept of “repurposing,” such as when a molecule/compound or drug itself has been put aside as ineffective for its stated target. Through innovative public-private partnerships including those initiated by NIH’s new National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), there is a push to look at more of those previously shelved products to examine new uses. History tells us that this has happened before, and science tells us it can happen again. Everyone, worldwide, can benefit from such American ingenuity. We have launched a series of print and Washington, D.C., Metro station ads that highlight examples of repurposing and other unanticipated benefits of investing in research to improve health. Check out our “Nice Save” ads.

In view of the holiday week ahead, I am keeping this letter short. Count on us in early July to hone in on what you can do as an advocate to make the case for research to the voting public (we have great examples to call out), to stop sequestration, and to make it clear that patients and all of us who are stakeholders in research for health are not satisfied with the status quo. We all aspire to better health and well-being, and we are all committed to research as an essential pathway toward achieving that goal.

Have a safe and happy Fourth of July.

Mary Woolley

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Report: NY a Successful Bioscience State, but More Work Remains

By any measure, New York is one of the country’s top states for medical research and development: In FY11, the state attracted more than $2 billion across 4,606 awards from the National Institutes of Health. Only California and Massachusetts were better in either category. With robust academic research (not to mention a significant presence of independent research institutes, like Research!America members Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and Masonic Medical Research Laboratory) and NYC-based pharmaceutical giants Bristol-Myers Squibb and Pfizer, bioscience pays off for New York and its residents: According to a new report, the industry directly and indirectly supported 250,000 jobs across the state and generated $309 million in state taxes and more than $5.63 billion in personal wages.

But that report — “Cultivating the Next Generation of Discoveries and Development in New York Bioscience,” by The Public Policy Institute of New York State — also notes that New York can do more to support the industry. And where it draws inspiration from is no surprise: California and Massachusetts.

The report cites the efforts of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Initiative; Governor Deval Patrick (D) not only funded the initiative with $1 billion over 10 years, but also provided a five-point guidance plan. The report says New York would stand to benefit from such guidance. There’s also a comparison chart that shows how each state helps science companies from startup through maturity.

California is known for its entrepreneurial spirit, and the report states that the New York would benefit from more formally bringing together scientists and entrepreneurs.

In all, the report includes three policy and program initiatives to ensure continued success of New York’s bioscience sector:

  • Establish a “Governor’s Council” to help facilitate communication between the state and industry and to market the state’s life sciences capabilities to audiences far and wide;
  • Designate state funding specifically for bioscience companies; the report offers matching funds for Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants and enacting legislation to create a Biosciences Commercialization Fund;
  • Aiding startups and young companies by increasing the amount of affordable incubator and lab space.

The report was produced in May and released earlier in the week.

Research!America President and CEO Mary Woolley Hails Senate Passage of FDA User Fee Legislation

The following is a statement from Research!America President and CEO Mary Woolley on the Senate’s passage of FDA user fee legislation:

“Senate approval of the FDA Safety and Innovation Act demonstrates the willingness of lawmakers to prioritize the health and safety of patients. The bipartisanship displayed in crafting and moving the bill through Congress underscores the strong support for bringing lifesaving treatments to patients in a safe, efficient and speedy manner.  The additional funding for review of prescription drugs and medical devices, along with key policy changes, will accelerate the approval process and address issues that have for too long disrupted the flow of innovative new therapies into the health care system.  We urge the President to quickly sign the bill into law.”

Research!America’s Latest Advocacy Tool

Research!America has come out with a four-part ad series titled: “Nice Save – American Ingenuity Saves Lives.” The ads began running in Politico last week and continue this week; if you live in the D.C. region and ride Metro, you’ll also see these ads appearing on the red line, starting July 9. This global health R&D awareness campaign highlights the success and (sometimes unexpected) payoffs of investing in health and global health research. Please view the ad series and learn how you can make a difference here.

Research!America’s Blog has a New Home!

Thanks for stopping by, and welcome to our humble new abode!

After years of hosting a blog on our domain, we felt it was time to give our blog a fresh coat of paint and some new appliances. The end result is what you see here, and this will be the home of Research!America’s blog moving forward.

Our old blog home will still live on as an archive, as we believe there is plenty of timeless and valuable information there. But we will no longer be adding new posts there.

So please, take a look around and help us test the blinds. If you see something that’s not working as it should, please let us know by dropping an email to editor@researchamerica.org.

Again, thank you and welcome!