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

uch as polio
  • Effective treatments for a growing number of cancers, and
  • Medications that have lessened the toll of a number of dreaded diseases, such that they are now considered chronic, manageable conditions.

  • He then observed, "The economic payback from these gains is difficult to overstate. The payback is years of productive work, economic value added, consumer spending and tax dollars paid - which together outweighs the costs of treatment overwhelmingly - even if you resist the idea of putting a number on the intrinsic value of being alive."

    Lechleiter expressed hope for similar future gains, but he pointed to major bellwethers warning that innovation is at risk:

    • The pharmaceutical industry, he said, is "in the midst of a wave of defensive consolidations that will leave the world with even fewer entities capable of taking an idea -- a discovery -- and turning it into a medicine approved for patients."
    • "Half of the smaller biotech firms in the U.S. have less than a year of [operating] cash remaining, and a third are down to their last six months"; and
    • Recent FDA new drug approvals have dropped sharply relative to the past 30 years.

    Lechleiter rounded out his speech with a closer look at several areas of public policy under which, depending on the path taken in health reform, innovation will be enhanced or curbed.

    Prefacing his policy prescriptions, he said: "When it comes to sustaining innovation, the burden remains on us -- as it should. We're not asking for a handout or a bailout. Instead, businesses that live or die by health care innovation in the U.S. ask only that we be allowed to continue doing just that: proving the value of what we've developed or failing in the marketplace."

    He urged all sta
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    SOURCE Eli Lilly and Company
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