For policymakers and candidates willing to embrace public policies that help support the development of new treatments and cures, a unique proposition exists: Colorado voters will reward those who make medical discovery a key part of their platform.
In the past few decades, innovators have achieved unprecedented breakthroughs across medicine and the biosciences. Researchers are making significant strides against diseases like cancer, diabetes, hypertension and many others, with new treatments directly contributing to patients living longer. For instance, by 2024, there will be an estimated 19 million cancer survivors. This is just one of many examples that demonstrate why this new era of discoveries and cures is so unique.
More good news: Voters see the potential. A recent Galen Institute-Center Forward poll finds that voters in Colorado are nearly unanimous in recognizing the importance of American medical discovery. Ninety-six percent of those polled understand the benefits that medical discoveries provide both for patients and the country. At the same time, 73 percent of Colorado voters believe Members of Congress and candidates for elected office should support pro-medical discovery policies. For the more than 190 million Americans living with chronic disease, this is monumental.
Nearly six out of 10 voters think the next president should prioritize medical discovery during his or her first 100 days in office. From a policy standpoint, significant support exists for ongoing access to new treatments and cures through Medicare and other health plans, as well as modernizing the FDA and facilitating innovative public-private partnerships.
For Democrats and Republicans, the message could not be clearer: we need policies that put the needs of patients first. Voters expect policymakers to embrace a proactive agenda with scientific advancement at the forefront. In doing so, we will only be stronger in our shared fight against disease.
The poll also finds that more than half (52 percent) of Colorado voters identify private sector companies, including biopharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, as investing the most in new discoveries. Innovative, new medicines will help reduce the nearly $2.2 trillion that the United States spends per year on chronic disease costs. We need to boost productivity and ultimately recognize that, in health care, disease is our number one adversary to combat the $3.1 trillion dollars lost by the U.S. economy each year.
Every community in health care plays a unique role in this regard. For example, as of 2016, the biopharmaceutical sector has more than 130 medicines currently in its development pipeline to help patients experiencing mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety or schizophrenia. Achieving progress will depend on the public and private sectors working together towards new treatments and cures.
With nearly 150,000 jobs supported by Colorado’s bioscience sector, the state has set a unique example when it comes to advancing medical discovery, such as engineering the first newborn screening program for cystic fibrosis and pioneering pediatric AIDS research. In Colorado and nationwide, the potential for new breakthroughs has never been timelier. There’s much to be gained by continuing to invest in innovation including quality of life enhancement and economic progress. It’s now clear that voters feel the same way.
April Giles is president and CEO of the Colorado Bioscience Association, which promotes the interests of over 600 bioscience companies and their 27,000 employees through advocacy, resources and advancement of opportunities for collaboration.