Science & Technology

Would Proposed Federal Legislation Sicken the Biopharmaceutical Sector?

While New Jersey biopharmaceutical companies continue to yield innovative medicines, the entire American sector nonetheless faces “frightening legislative proposals” that “endanger the future of innovation and threaten patient safety,” BioNJ President & CEO Debbie Hart said at last night’s BioNJ Annual Dinner Meeting & Innovation Celebration, held at the Hilton East Brunswick.

The overall crux is that although genetic- and technology-related medical advances are at times highly specialized, for many unrelated and related reasons, the general cost of healthcare is rising in a complex equation. Legislative proposals such as importation, international pricing and H.R.3 are sometimes viewed as potential kryptonite for a biopharmaceutical sector that invests billions in research and development in order to make exponentially innovative medical progress.

Hart told the audience, “We need to look at the entire healthcare system, identify where the costs are, and then bring all the parties together to tackle the challenge. Why? Because innovation works.”

Underscoring her stance on innovation’s efficacy, Hart added, “The American Cancer Society just released a report showing that the cancer death rate for 2017 posted the largest single drop, ever. That’s medical innovation at work.  And a recent study showed that in 2016, for every dollar spent on innovative medicines for pancreatic cancer, there was a reduction in non-medicine spending of $9. Now, that’s medical innovation at work.”

The year 2019 moreover was another banner year for biopharmaceutical company innovations, with some 54 novel medicines approved by the FDA on a national basis – and more than 50 percent of those stemming from companies with a New Jersey presence.

Kenneth C. Frazier

Merck’s Chairman and CEO Kenneth C. Frazier was last night honored with the Dr. Sol J. Barer Award for Vision, Innovation and Leadership.  Although Frazier’s remarks largely focused on exploring the terms “vision,” “innovation,” and “leadership,” he also said of the overall healthcare landscape: “… many patients are experiencing unaffordable out-of-pocket expenses, so we recognize that research opportunities have to be born in the crucible of an increasingly challenging healthcare arena. The public is outraged by excessive price increases, especially for non-innovative drugs.

“Valuable new specialty medicines are necessarily expensive, but contribute to growing alarm over rising healthcare costs, and politicians propose unreasonable solutions which threaten our sustainability.”

Frazier added that innovation includes “not only inventing new medicines and devices, but increasing access to affordable care, getting products into hard-to-reach places” and working with partners to provide payment models, or a “solution we have yet to dream of.”

The Heart of BioNJ Awards

The Heart of BioNJ Awards meanwhile were presented to Mary Frances Harmon, senior vice president, corporate relations, PTC Therapeutics, and posthumously to Bob Tufts, founder of “My Life Is Worth It.”

A keynote speech by motivational speaker Sean Swarner showcased his path of transcending multiple cancers and subsequently engaging in mountain climbing, philanthropic endeavors and other pursuits.

Innovator Companies

BioNJ additionally honored the following “Innovator Companies” for their drug development efforts and approvals: 

  • ADMA Biologics
  • Amarin
  • Allergan
  • Amgen
  • Bayer Healthcare
  • Beigene
  • Bristol-Myers Squibb
  • Daiichi Sankyo
  • Eisai
  • Eli Lilly
  • Galderma
  • Janssen
  • Jazz Pharmaceuticals
  • Kyowa Kirin
  • Merck
  • Novartis
  • Novo Nordisk
  • Pfizer
  • Sanofi
  • Shionogi
  • SK Life Science

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