October 11, 2013 - Four decades ago, a research team led by the University of California and Stanford University developed a technique known as recombinant DNA, which allows scientists to bring together genetic material from multiple sources. Their research captured the attention of investors and led to the launch of a new business—Genentech, Inc.
Genentech formed a partnership with Eli Lilly and through hard work and intensive research, they developed the first human recombinant insulin using this revolutionary new technique.
From that medical breakthrough a dynamic biotechnology product sector was born offering nearly unlimited promise for mankind’s future.
In just over 40 years, worldwide sales of biotechnology products (biologics and bioengineered vaccines) have grown to more than $153 billion.
Over the years, thousands of new biotechnology innovations have followed. These innovations are built on a foundation of brilliant scientific discoveries. They have enhanced and accelerated our ability to develop practical products and technologies that help us live longer and healthier lives, have a more abundant and sustainable food supply, and create cleaner and more sustainable fuels and green chemicals.
The biotechnology industry has come a long way in a short time. It has helped to revolutionize the medical standard-of-care for devastating and previously untreatable diseases. The promise of biotechnology for patients is exemplified by the more than 200 approved biomedicines and the more than 900 new biologics in development for conditions that target more than 100 diseases. Biologic medicines in development include more than 300 treatments for cancer and related conditions; more than 170 for infectious diseases; more than 70 for autoimmune diseases; and nearly 60 medicines for cardiovascular diseases.
BIOLOGIC MEDICINES CURRENTLY IN DEVELOPMENT
In the U.S., the bioscience industry accounts for over 1.6 million jobs and an additional five million jobs are created as a result of the industry’s economic multiplier effect. And bioscience jobs on average pay about 79 percent more than other private sector jobs.
The goal now is to build on this momentum and to make sure the U.S. remains a leader in innovative drug discovery. That means having the right public policy and regulatory environment in place, removing bureaucratic hurdles that can slow efforts to bring new drugs and therapies to patients and developing Federal and state policies that encourage innovation and investment.
The good news is the future of biotechnology is strong. We envision a day when breakthrough drugs lead to a world without cancer, or AIDS or Alzheimer’s. And there is a scientist at a university lab or biotech start-up somewhere today who is putting on her lab coat or a researcher combing through his data who will be the one that helps make this possible.
Our goal as a nation must be to support our innovators as they apply their creativity, their ingenuity and their intellect to solve these historic challenges.
Bringing a drug to market, so it may be used to treat and help patients, is quite different from developing a new mobile application or creating a new social media tool for use on a smart phone or computer. It requires policies and programs that reflect the significant time and investment required to bring lifesaving drugs to the marketplace.
But if we get this right, in addition to helping to ease and prevent human suffering, we will create a more durable, more resilient 21st century American economy - one that’s built on innovation, on cutting-edge science and on good-paying bio-based jobs that help fuel local economies and communities.