The US is doing more in the COVID-19 space than anywhere in the world due to the strength of its innovative ecosystem, says Michelle McMurry-Heath, president & CEO of life sciences advocacy group Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO). But such innovation is under threat due to “reckless” orders coming out of the White House.
As part of an exclusive interview filmed for Xconomy’s Xcelerate’s Keynote Series at Biotech Week Boston next week, McMurry-Heath (pictured above) criticized an executive order issued by President Trump on Sunday intended on lowering drug pricing.
“The executive orders that were issued this week by President Trump are reckless,” she told Xconomy, adding that it is “really a short sighted and ill-conceived approach to try to unilaterally change prices without fundamentally thinking about how we get to a system that both supports the generation of innovation and delivers those innovation to patients.”
The so-called “most-favored nations” policy highlighted in the order claims Americans are “effectively subsidizing innovation and lower-cost drugs for the rest of the world” and hopes to rectify this by forcing Medicare’s drug prices to match those offered in other developed countries.
However, said McMurry-Heath, “if we look at what these types of price controls have produced in countries like the UK and in other countries around the world, we see them really struggling to have the same innovation ecosystem that we enjoy here in the US.”
Taking the industry’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic as an example, she said of the 728 development program underway more than 50 percent are in the US.
“The US is doing more in this very critical space than the entire rest of the world combined, and that’s because of the strength of our innovative ecosystem… Anything that cuts our developers off at the knees just as they’re in the final lap of trying to fight COVID is really, really ill-timed and does not serve the nation overall.”
Noting that the biopharma industry “wouldn’t be the first industry to say that sometimes conversations with the current administration have been one-sided,” she lambasted Trump’s reckless attempt to fix what he sees as a trade imbalance.
“Our industry is the only industry where the US government tries to fix an imbalance in trade by crippling a US industry. What really should be happening is speaking very forcefully and proactively with partner countries around the world about how we can rebalance that trade equation, rather than cutting off our industry and destroying this great engine of innovation that we’ve created over the years.”
The full interview covering other pertinent issues within the life sciences space—with a focus on innovative approaches to pandemic challenges and the race for a COVID-19 vaccine—will be available on Monday, Sept. 21 as part of Xconomy’s Xcelerate’s Keynote Series at Biotech Week Boston. The online event places a spotlight on life science leaders who are breaking new ground with methods and solutions in R&D, planning, and production that are improving patient outcomes.
Other speakers include:
—Jeff Baker, Deputy Director, Office of Biotechnology Products, FDA
—Tal Zaks, Chief Medical Officer, Moderna
—John Maraganore, CEO, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals
—Andrew Plump, President, Research & Development, Takeda Pharmaceutical
—Lotus Mallbris, Vice President & Global Head of Immunology Product Development, Eli Lilly
—Dhavalkumar Patel, Executive Vice President & Chief Scientific Officer, UCB
—Dave Reese, Executive Vice President, Research and Development, Amgen
—Access to the event networking app to view and message all attendees and pre-schedule meetings
—Five keynote sessions with solo and panel presentations, a fireside chat, and Q&A
—Admission to the BioProcess International Conference virtual exhibit hall