Strengthening Private Sector R&D

Medical progress typically starts with general scientific exploration known as “basic research.” Americans have traditionally devoted about 1 percent of their health care tax dollars to finance basic research at universities, hospitals and other research institutions across the country. Using the clues uncovered by basic research, businesses develop life-saving medical advances. Patient advocacy organizations and other non-profits also invest in research, as do some state and local governments. But the private sector is by far the largest U.S. funder of medical research and development, followed by the federal government. 

Private sector medical advances take many forms, including treatments, tools, preventative measures, medical devices and more.

Industry stats:

  • America’s biopharmaceutical industry is the global leader in medical innovation, with more than 500 new medicines approved by the Food and Drug Administration since 2000. (PhRMA)
  • Biotechnology R&D provides high-wage jobs across the country for 1.66 million Americans employed directly in biosciences jobs. This industry supports an additional 7.53 million jobs, resulting in a total employment impact of more than 9.2 million jobs in the biomedical sector. (Battelle/Bio)
  • More than 854,000 people work in the biopharmaceutical industry in the United States, and the industry supports a total of nearly 4.7 million jobs across the economy. (PhRMA)
  • “The growth rate on R&D investments has slowed in 2017 as the overall slowing global economy is being reflected in the amount of monies that are now available for R&D endeavors.” (2017 Global R&D Funding Forecast, Industrial Research Institute)
  • “By 2022, if current growth rates hold, China’s funding will surpass that of the United States.” – Dr. Francis Collins, Director of NIH (JAMA, 2015)

Examples of private sector advocacy topics:

  • clinical trials,
  • intellectual property,
  • technology transfer,
  • tax reform – particularly repealing the medical device tax and making the R&D tax credit permanent,
  • broad patient access to safe and effective medicines,
  • healthcare-related regulatory and reimbursement climate,
  • and a free flow of information to patients.

Policy Contacts

You can change the image of things to come. But you can’t do it sitting on your hands … The science community should reach out to Congress and build bridges.
The Honorable John E. Porter