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Lilly Chairman & CEO Lechleiter Says Innovation Is Vital-But-Missing Plank in Health Reform Debate
Date:5/14/2009

Chamber of Commerce Speech Tackles Policy Issues, from Personalized Medicine to Biosimilars

WASHINGTON, May 14 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- In remarks before the U.S. Chamber of Commerce today, John C. Lechleiter, Ph.D., chairman and CEO of Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE: LLY) said that federal policymakers' attention to access, quality and costs in health reform should also include a focus on innovation - or the results could include "unintended side-effects." Innovation, he said, helped boost the average American's life expectancy from 47 to 78 years, a rise of 66 percent over the past century and "unprecedented in human history." In his keynote speech before a group of business, government and health care representatives, Lechleiter identified specific policy proposals and their implications for patients and for developing breakthrough treatments and cures.

"Encouraging innovation needs to be the purpose of U.S. health care reform, not its victim," Lechleiter said. "It's innovation that explains why we are the healthiest, longest-lived and wealthiest human beings ever to occupy the planet."

But, he asserted, if heath care reform does not encourage innovation, "then the important goals of expanding access, improving quality and controlling costs will prove illusory."

He cited a Columbia University study that analyzed data from 52 countries and showed that, controlling for other factors, the availability of new medicines alone accounted for 40 percent of the increase in life expectancy during the 1980s and 1990s. He said the medical advances of the past century that made life-expectancy and quality-of-life gains possible included the invention of:

  • Antibiotics to cure infections
  • Vaccines that have nearly eradicated several conditions, s
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SOURCE Eli Lilly and Company
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