U.S. Healthcare Reform and the Patent Cliff: Stimulus for Innovation, or the Status Quo?

Business journalists lately have been writing of the demise of the U.S. pharma sector, with some describing it as going the way of the Big Three U.S automakers, and others seeing it as "despairing its future."

What will be the long-term, macro impacts of the wrenching changes now going on in pharma? Not just on the industry, but on local businesses and communities across the U.S.? What will happen to small towns like Pearl River? How great will the impact be? Pharmaceutical Executive posed this question last year, citing the example of Pfizer’s retreat from New London, Connecticut. Earlier, a piece in New Jersey Monthly had asked whether biotech could make up for pharma losses.

A careers article in Science last year emphasized the importance of industry innovation. If innovation is key, can pharma take any solace from, of all places, U.S. automotive? Will Obama’s plans to revive innovation in the U.S. automotive sector via new mileage and antipollution standards stimulate onshore business? 

And if so, will the combined impact of the "patent cliff" and healthcare reform be a similar stimulus for innovation in U.S. pharma?  We've been hearing, for years, that it will provide just the environment needed for change--and the adoption of more scientific approaches to R&D and manufacturing. 

Or will it simply be a recipe for the status quo on steroids, with a mandate to churn out more, faster, however and wherever . . . 

We don’t want to be knee-jerk quoters of Lou Dobbs. But studies of factory closings and their impact on local communities show definite negative long-term effects. For a study of such changes in the U.K, click here. A recent visit to the Motown area had me blue about the demise of U.S. manufacturing in general and the potential impact on pharma. (For a modern keening, watch and listen, especially you who are rap haters, with an open mind, to at least some of this clip.)

But then consider this question posed by authors from the University of Chicago: Can economic turbulence eventually lead to good things for workers and communities? (excerpt here).

This editorial was written, not in Pollyannaish spirit, but  in search of silver linings. But what do you, who are in the forefront of all this change, see as the key to keeping U.S. pharma alive, as the global pharma economy reshapes? Please write in with your thoughts (if the comment function on this blog isn't working, to ashanley@putman.net_

AMS

 

 

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