Stem Cell, Public Policy & Innovation

Here’s an editorial from the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research: Stem Cells and the Truth About Medical Innovation
First few paragraphs…

Whatever one thinks of the ethics of using human embryos in medical research, the rhetoric around President Barack Obama’s decision to expand federal funding for embryonic stem-cell science reveals a widespread misconception of how medical products are created.

Many of the same political leaders who are the strongest champions for federally funded research seek to impose myriad restrictions, regulations, and economic controls on the private companies that translate public science into practical medical innovations. As a result, while Mr. Obama’s stem-cell decision only affects federal funding, and while more funding will mean more research, it’s far from certain that this will hasten the realization of new medical products.

The achievements of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are monumental. But its efforts only translate into practical benefits for patients if its scientific research can be turned into new medicines, something that’s not part of the agency’s mandate. By its own recent count, the NIH cites only 84 examples over the last 60 years where the agency–or academic institutions it supports–discovered, let alone developed, a new drug or biologic.

Making new medicines is the work of a robust private life-science industry. In the case of stem cells, there are more than 150 private companies trying to turn stem cells into new treatments. But almost all of the companies pursuing this sort of chancy science are small biotechnology companies–the kind that rely on private venture capital in order to fund their high-risk and expensive endeavors….


About Chris MacDonald

I'm a philosopher who teaches at Ryerson University's Ted Rogers School of Management in Toronto, Canada. Most of my scholarly research is on business ethics and healthcare ethics.
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