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Maximize the speed and impact of medical breakthroughs by removing unnecessary obstacles that block new treatments from reaching patients and emphasizing research spending toward urgent national priorities, like brain science with its impact on Alzheimer’s, autism, Parkinson’s, mental health and other conditions that knowledge of the brain will help solve.
Americans’ vigilant defense of Creator-endowed rights, rule of law, and intellectual freedom has long drawn risk-takers, innovators and brilliant minds from all around the globe.
Today, we are on the cusp of an explosion of new science that will create new opportunities in health, agriculture, energy, and materials technology.It is no coincidence that the vast majority of the major scientific and health-related breakthroughs of the last two centuries have occurred here.
Breakthroughs in brain science, in particular, will open up enormous opportunities for cures and treatments for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, autism, mental illness and learning disabilities.
The question in the twenty-first century is whether we reform our system so we can educate, regulate, and invest in a way that allows us to continue to be at the forefront of innovation.
A key first step is to transform the Food and Drug Administration to allow these breakthroughs to proceed rapidly.
Nearly a quarter of all products Americans consume are regulated by the FDA. Every drug and medical device we use, as well as nearly 80 percent of our food supply, must pass FDA muster before heading to the market.
Americans deserve a fair and competent regulatory regime that emphasizes both consumer safety and ensures that life-saving breakthrough products get from our labs to our pharmacies and homes as efficiently as possible.
Unfortunately, the current FDA falls well short of this expectation, and its stagnant, bureaucratic and byzantine regulatory guidelines are scaring off new investment and driving innovators overseas. This is bad news for American jobs and competitiveness, and downright awful news for anyone who wants to ensure that life-saving medicines and devices can get to patients as quickly as possible.
The goal of a new 21st century FDA must be to ensure that in America knowledge moves to the market so rapidly that no other country in the world can compete with us in developing and marketing new solutions for health, food, energy, and materials technology.
Furthermore, government agencies such as the National Institutes for Heath have the opportunity to use scientific research funding today in a way that will avert massive costs and human suffering in the future.
As Americans now live longer than ever, one of the greatest fiscal threats in health is the rising cost of treating Alzheimer’s patients. The current estimate is that the combined public and private cost of Alzheimer’s between today to 2050 will be $20 trillion. That is one and a half times the current total federal debt.
But a smart emphasis on brain science and innovation today can change this projection for the better.
Brain scientists note that because Alzheimer’s is largely (but not entirely) a disease of older citizens you can have an enormous effect simply by postponing the onset of the disease by five years. The Alzheimer’s Association believes this could save between $5 and $10 trillion in the next four decades.
In addition, investments in brain science hold enormous potential to improve the lives of those who struggle with Autism, Parkinson’s, and mental health trouble. Intensified research in this area could make untold contributions to understanding learning, cognition, and other important aspects of life.
A strategy of maximizing the speed with which new science can be developed and implemented to help the patient has a greater potential to pay off in brain science than in any other area.
While this topic may initially seem unusual in a proposed 21st Century Contract with America, I look forward to laying out my case of why I believe that brain science will soon be a major part of planning for better health and longer lives with greater independence and lower costs to the federal and state governments. It will also be an area in which American leadership could lead to an enormous number of new American jobs providing services for the entire world.