LinkPad: Innovation at the Forefront

It seems as if innovation was at the forefront of many discussions this week.  Here are a few of the articles that caught my eye.

 This week the National Science Foundation released statistics focused on innovation in U.S. business.  Data from the Business R&D and Innovation Survey (BRDIS) indicated that some 9 percent of companies surveyed were product innovators between 2006 and 2008.  Lilly continues to invest in R&D. Last year, we invested almost 20 percent of our revenues, $4.3B, back into research and development activities.

A recent article in the Huffington Post can help put those numbers in perspective for the pharmaceutical industry.  Lesa Mitchell explains that innovation in the health care industry is currently being "stifled" by ballooning costs of funding breakthrough medicines.  Mitchell attributes these costs to substantial decrease in the number of FDA approvals for new drugs "from 53 in 1996 to an average of 21 per year between 2005 and 2009." The stifling that Ms. Mitchell discusses has implications for the global pharmaceutical industry. 

New York Times blogger David Barboza wrote this Wednesday on China's growing economic power and the nation's growing investment in research and development.  Barboza highlights a Reuters study projecting that by 2011 China will surpass the United States in new patent applications.  As Chinese patent applications continue to rise, this reflects a trend where the growing Chinese economy continues to make substantial investment in basic and applied research. It is hoped by many that as China increases R&D activity and patenting, its citizens and institutions will exhibit greater respect for the patent rights of foreign inventors.

The WSJ Health Blog covers an important issue when it discusses: Should Medicare Consider Effectiveness When it Sets Reimbursement Rates? This topic was actually a key and controversial part of the debate running up to passage of health care reform when comparative effectiveness research was wrongly characterized as the government takeover of health care decisions that rightfully reside between patients and their physicians. That said, caution needs to be the watchword when the government is asked to balance the value of innovation with its role as a payer of health care services. In the drive to reduce health care expenditures, there should be significant concern that overall budget worries will influence coverage decisions and trump the health outcomes experts... all to the detriment of both future innovation and to patients.

Lastly, the link between innovation and jobs was highlighted in three articles (more to come on this next week).  Check these out for a preview: