Drug industry: Crown jewel or national treasure?
With U.S. automakers close to collapse and financial services companies in turmoil, drug makers are positioning themselves as a premier American industry that deserves support from policymakers.
“The pharmaceutical industry is a national treasure,” Joe Pieroni, head of U.S. commercial operations for Japanese drugmaker Daiichi Sankyo, said at the Reuters Health Summit in New York.
“We are probably at the forefront of technology in terms of numbers of jobs, numbers of innovations, numbers of patents,” he added.
Drug makers are touting their contribution to the health and economy of the nation as traditionally critical Democrats prepare a major effort to overhaul health care. The companies are expected to face pressure to lower prices often attacked as too high. Manufacturers say that could hurt their ability to invest in research for new medicines.
Pharmaceutical companies are working “to convince people in Congress that, instead of bashing the industry, try to work with the industry in establishing the U.S. as truly a foundation for this high technology workforce,” Pieroni said.
Other executives who spoke to the Reuters summit also waved the flag.
“Here is a chance for the U.S. to keep doing what it is very good at, which is to innovate,” Schering-Plough Corp Chief Executive Fred Hassan said.
With the auto and computer industries, Hassan said “unfortunately a lot of that went over to Asia a long time ago. But we are the preeminent industry around the world … and this is a crown jewel of the U.S.,” Hassan said.
The health-care sector is “a very important source of jobs and innovation and economic growth,” Pfizer Chief Executive Jeff Kindler said.