Innovation

On this page, you’ll find the Center’s analysis on how free-market policies can better balance the competing interests of medical innovation and competition. Here, you’ll find our research and commentary on such issues as patents, research and development spending, and reforms that will promote more robust competition.

The quickest way to get less of something is to regulate it. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the health sector, which suffers from a chronic shortage of physicians, particularly in primary care. And it’s about to get worse. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the United States is facing a shortfall of up to 48,000 primary care physicians by 2034, especially in rural and historically marginalized urban areas. Many states are turning a blind eye to this looming shortage...

Telehealth experiments during the pandemic confirmed the immense positive impact that virtual options provide to communities. It helps individuals in rural areas, those struggling with mental health crises, the poor, and even individuals with rare disorders. Speaking more generally, equipping young families with telehealth options also greatly helps parents. I write from experience. Not too long ago, my toddler awoke and the whole left side of her face had suddenly swollen during the night. She could hardly see out of her...

The House passed bipartisan legislation last week that could help reduce costs and ensure continued innovation for the future. While this legislation might not be covered as extensively as other issues, it nonetheless represents meaningful progress. This week, the Senate HELP Committee passed the Senate version, the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Landmark Advancements (FDASLA) Act, a reauthorization of Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA), the Biosimilars User Fee Act (BsUFA), and the Generic Drug User Fee Amendments (GDUFA). These...

Earlier this month, a group of 17 House Republicans released several ideas for modernizing the healthcare system, improving access to care, and lowering costs. One of the proposals — safeguarding expanded access to telehealth — could help achieve all three of those goals. Lawmakers would do well to relax permanently the telehealth restrictions that were temporarily waived during the pandemic. Those waivers have eliminated onerous barriers to virtual care. For example, Medicare beneficiaries no longer have to travel to a designated healthcare facility just to...

Last week, both New York and Kansas granted nurse practitioners the freedom to practice independently, without the supervision of a physician. The Empire State and the Sunflower State are now the 25th and 26th states to roll back "scope-of-practice" restrictions on NPs. This trend is worth celebrating. The shortage of primary care doctors in the United States is already at crisis levels, particularly in rural areas. Empowering NPs, physician assistants, and pharmacists to treat people independently could expand the supply of health care virtually overnight — at...

Nearly 84 million Americans live in “primary-care health professional shortage areas” — places that don’t have enough primary-care physicians to meet patient need. That includes over 7.8 million patients living here in California. Even in the face of this shortage, only 25 states grant the right of “full practice” to nurse practitioners, or NPs, who could immediately address this problem. In the remaining states, “scope-of-practice” laws prevent NPs from evaluating patients, ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests and managing treatments. States with such...

“That morning I squeezed every orange and it felt like a wet sponge – I knew I lost the whole crop,” said Natalia Derevianko, a small farmer in the tiny Florida town of Archer, somewhere in the void between Orlando and Tallahassee.   Florida’s peninsular climate offers farmers an opportunity to grow high-value fruit crops in the winter months when much of the rest of the country is blanketed in snow. On Jan. 30, this season’s valuable crop of citrus, peaches, and avocados was...

By Henry Miller and Kathleen Hefferon Much of the world is preoccupied with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but there are other global challenges, including climate change, food security, and degradation of the environment. Interestingly, and perhaps ironically, there is some good news regarding the latter three from a recent breakthrough in microbiology.   Plants depend upon beneficial interactions between roots and root-associated microorganisms for growth promotion, disease suppression, and nutrient availability. Crops require nitrogen to grow, and although there is an abundance of...

Gene editing, which allows precise edits to the genome, has been widely used for a variety of applications in laboratories worldwide since its discovery a decade ago. It has tremendous potential: Researchers hope to use it to alter human genes to eliminate diseases; improve the characteristics of plants; resist pathogens; and more. The two scientists who discovered the iconic gene editing technology, the CRISPR-Cas9 system, were awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. In spite of the fact that gene editing is...

Earlier this month, the Biden administration bought 10 million courses of Pfizer's new COVID-19 pill, Paxlovid. Thanks to the Food and Drug Administration, however, it may be months before anyone can take it, as the agency hasn't yet offered up a timetable for approving it. Its inaction will almost certainly result in scores of preventable deaths. In clinical trials, Paxlovid proved nearly 90% effective at preventing hospitalization and death. The results were so promising, Pfizer ended its trial of the drug early. It would have been...

Millions of Americans may soon be able to hear a bit easier. The Food and Drug Administration just announced a new rule that would permit over-the-counter sales of hearing aids. Regulators are soliciting comments from the public. This move to liberalize the market for hearing aids is an unmitigated piece of good news. It recognizes that patients should have greater control over the care they receive, and it promises to increase competition in the market for hearing aids, saving consumers money...

Dr. Henry Miller talks to the nationally-syndicated Lars Larson Show based out of Oregon about innovations in artificially constructed organs and tissue that could be used to make up for the shortage of organ transplants. Miller also talks about the use of genetically-engineered animals, and the regulatory issues with the FDA, to develop organs for transplant into humans. Lars Larson National Podcast · Lars Larson National Podcast 09-28-21...

Modern medicine has produced many kinds of high-tech miracles, among them gene therapy to correct malfunctioning genes, electrical stimulation devices to restore significant function after traumatic spinal cord injury, and surgery performed by robots. Another medical area that desperately needs breakthroughs is transplantation of solid organs. We are making progress but are not quite there. Currently, donor organs — from a living donor or cadaver — must match the recipient's tissue type and size, and often, they are not perfect. By one estimate, approximately half of...

The study of genetics has always been an attempt to understand our biologically determined fate. Many of us know of families with a predisposition to maladies like heart disease or breast cancer. There are many kinds of interventions that can modulate the effects of our genetic endowment, whether directly (as in highly sophisticated gene therapy for genetic diseases) or pharmaceutical treatments, such as human growth hormone for growth hormone deficiency. But even when such targeted interventions aren't possible, we can modulate...

It’s time for your annual physical. You make an appointment with your doctor and mark the date on your calendar. But when the day arrives, you don’t set aside two to three hours or wait for a nurse to call your name in a sterile doctor’s office. You log onto your laptop from the comfort of your living room. The process takes less than 30 minutes. For many Americans, this was a reality amid the pandemic, when lots of care was delivered...

Reforms to the U.S. drug pricing environment are required, but to improve patients’ health outcomes, reforms must be grounded in a comprehensive understanding of the current drug pricing system. Otherwise, policymakers will make things worse, not better. Unfortunately, a March 2021 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) fails to live up to this goal. The title of the report, U.S. Prices for Selected Brand Drugs Were Higher on Average than Prices in Australia, Canada, and France, appears to confirm the narrative that U.S. patients...

On April 13th, citing "an abundance of caution," after the appearance of a few rare blood clots in the brain (cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, or CVST) following administration of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, the FDA announced a "pause" in its administration. Regulators reversed course just ten days later, after confirming that the incidence of that adverse reaction was, indeed, extremely low, and that the benefits of receiving the vaccine overwhelmingly outweighed the risks. The decision to pause was precipitated...

This week, lawmakers in the House and Senate introduced bills that could preserve access to telehealth for Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries beyond the pandemic. The House measure would allow Medicare beneficiaries to continue receiving “audio-only” remote care — that is, by phone. The Senate bill would direct the federal government to come up with a list of telehealth services that state Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program should cover. This sustained enthusiasm for telehealth is great for patients. State and federal officials relaxed...

[vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_column_text css=".vc_custom_1621192674245{padding-right: 40px !important;}"]DOWNLOAD THE PDF In October 2019, the Center for Medical Economics and Innovation at the Pacific Research Institute released its second study documenting the savings potential enabled by biosimilars. Biosimilars are medicines manufactured in, or derived from, biological sources that are developed to be similar to FDA-approved reference products. Biosimilars are approved to compete in nine biologic drug classes in the U.S., and are available in seven of these drug...