What It Will Take to Cure Cancer
By Debra Miller, CSG Director of Health Policy
When President Kennedy said in 1961 that the U.S. would land a man on the moon within the next decade, it seemed an outlandish goal since the technology to do so did not even exist at the time.
The same could be said for curing cancer.
Peggy Brand, state government relations director for Celgene, a global biopharmaceutical company, said curing cancer is the focus of her company. She believes medical innovation is on track to achieve this goal.
“Medical innovation is turning knowledge about disease mechanism at the genetic and cellular level into projects that cure or prevent illness,” Brand said. “Medical innovation has contributed more to our ability to live longer, healthier and more prosperous lives than anything else.”
State policymakers can learn more about such medical innovation during The Council of State Governments 2013 National Conference Sept. 20.
Richard Bagger, a senior vice president with Celgene and a former New Jersey legislator who also spent two years as chief of staff to Gov. Chris Christie, will address the Health Public Policy Committee at the meeting in Kansas City, Mo., during the session, “Pushing the Envelope through Health Innovation.”
Bagger will explore what he believes is a critical crossroad in medical innovation today. The potential of science is greater than ever, but the outlook for investment has never been more uncertain. Good state policies can encourage greater research and development in the medical field.
The biopharmaceutical industry is a major contributor to the U.S. economy, generating high-quality jobs and powering economic output for the U.S. economy, according to a 2013 report by Battelle Technology Partnership Practice. “The U.S. biopharmaceutical sector contributes substantially to national, state, and local economies. It directly and indirectly supported approximately 3.4 million U.S. jobs in 2011, including 813,523 direct jobs.”
State policies also can address patients’ access to medicines. Brand called this “getting the right pill for the right patient at the right time.”
For example, 26 states have passed oral parity legislation that provides cancer patients the same access to oral medications as traditional chemotherapy drugs administered in a doctor’s office or a clinic setting.
Dr. Richard Jensen, director of The University of Kansas Cancer Center, will discuss with attendees at the health session the role of research institutions such as his own in the discovery and research that promotes innovations in health care.
Health innovation is not just an academic pursuit. It has real impact. Between 1960 and 1997, new therapies accounted for 45 percent of the increase in life expectancy, according to a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper authored by Frank Lichtenburg in 2012. Lichtenburg also found that from 2000 to 2009, new therapies accounted for 73 percent of the increase in life expectancy.