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Biotech execs, NIH defend research spend

May 8, 2017
  • Meeting included VP Pence, Ivanka Trump and Reed Cordish
  • Trump had proposed cutting NIH $1.23 billion this fiscal year

Biotech executives and the head of the National Institutes of Health met on Monday at the White House with Vice President Mike Pence and other top officials to defend government-sponsored research after the president’s budget proposal sought deep cuts.

President Donald Trump’s administration proposed cutting $1.23 billion from the NIH’s budget this fiscal year and $5.8 billion next year. Most of the proposed 2017 cuts would have come from reductions in research grants. But Congress increased the NIH’s budget for this fiscal year by $2 billion in the spending bill it passed last week to fund the government through September.

The meeting, which was also attended by Ivanka Trump and Reed Cordish, assistant to the president, examined the relationship between government, universities, philanthropy and industry that make American biomedical discovery “the envy of the world,” NIH Director Francis Collins said in a statement.

“I was energized this morning by many stories of how NIH-supported science has led to new therapies for patients and their families, as well as cutting edge technologies and job growth,” Collins said. “Today’s meeting was an important step in laying out bold plans to fortify America’s role as the global leader in biomedicine.”

NIH conducts or funds much of the basic research that drugmakers rely on to create treatments for diseases.

Other attendees included the chief executives of Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc., Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Celgene Corp.; Stanford University President Marc Tessier-Lavigne; Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price; and Bill Ford, CEO of the investment firm General Atlantic.

“The United States is a global leader in bioscience thanks to a rich ecosystem where government, medical research institutions, and the private sector work together to generate incredible insights and innovations.,” Ford said in a statement. “Following today’s discussion it is clear that the White House is committed to further extending America’s leadership position in this vital industry.”

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