Council for Entrepreneurial Development’s Biotech 2009 Conference

A few days ago, I participated in a panel discussion at Biotech 2009, a conference in Raleigh, put on by the Council for Entrepreneurial Development.

My fellow panelists included Dennis Gillings of Quintiles, Victor Dzau, of Duke, Maureen Kelley O'Connor, of Blue Cross, and Michael Baldock, of Quattro Partners. We were asked to talk about what the new Obama Administration and the Congress mean for the biotech industry and for health care in general.

I said that the Obama Administration is still likely to make a major push for health care reform, despite not having Senator Tom Daschle to lead the effort. I remain rather hopeful but the challenges got much more difficult when he dropped out.

I also said that the new FDA is likely to be much more skeptical toward the pharma and biotech industries than has been the case in recent years.

And I also talked about the push toward investment in comparative effectiveness, including more than a billion dollars in the just enacted stimulus package. I am a great believer in the importance of producing more information on what works in medical practice, and how to compare therapies. I said that this will be a major challenge to the drug industry, as it will require much more rigorous demonstration of the worthiness of new therapies.

The new landscape presents many opportunities and challenges. I very much hope we do take advantage of the new leadership in Washington to make major improvements in health care financing and delivery. It will be VERY difficult, but our current system has tremendous problems.

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