Friday, January 23, 2015

Elizabeth Warren would use drug co. fines for NIH funds


Friday, January 23, 2015

 By Donna Goodison
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren plans to file a bill next week to help fund basic medical research by targeting drug companies accused of breaking the law, but the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council has a problem with the proposed funding mechanism.
“We appreciate Sen. Warren’s commitment to increased NIH funding, but believe the mechanism proposed ... is flawed and is not likely to provide the increase in dollars Sen. Warren is anticipating,” CEO Robert Coughlin said.
Under Warren’s bill, drug companies involved in government settlements over alleged wrongdoing would have to pay 1 percent of annual profits for their drugs that relied on taxpayer-funded government research. Those penalties, which would run for five years, would go to National Institutes of Health and Food and Drug Administration research.
“This isn’t a tax,” Warren said. “It is simply a condition of settling to avoid a trial in a major case of wrongdoing. If a company never breaks the law, it will never pay the fee.”
Budget cuts have choked off support for research that could lead to breakthrough treatments for cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and other conditions that affect millions, according to Warren.
Coughlin said the drug industry has supported a number of initiatives aimed at boosting NIH funding. “We look forward to the continued dialogue on increasing NIH funding for critical medical research and working with Sen. Warren and the entire Massachusetts delegation to find an appropriate solution,” he said.
Massachusetts organizations received $2.4 billion-plus in fiscal 2014 — 10 percent of NIH funding and second only to California.

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