Creating Jobs, Saving Lives

Medical research not only creates jobs — it saves lives. But critical research — on cancer prevention, on new prescription drugs, and on cures for deadly diseases — is often left unfunded. In fact, nine out of 11 research grants go unfunded.

The National Institutes of Health, or NIH, represents the cornerstone of medical advancement in the United States. It is our nation’s largest funder of life sciences research and has a presence — both direct and indirect — in every state and nearly every congressional district.

Because of this investment — along with advances in worker safety, clean water, and infrastructure, among others — Americans are living three decades longer than they were in 1900, with a quality of life that continues to improve.

And the NIH not only helps us lead healthier lives — it helps to create thousands of jobs at universities, institutions, local governments, private businesses, non-profits, and collaborations all across the state.

I am proud that Ohio is a top-ten leader in economic activity created through NIH funding. Last year alone, Ohio received more than $670 million in NIH funding, and in 2013, the NIH awarded grants and contracts that directly supported more than 14,200 jobs in Ohio.

But NIH funding is declining.

As a percentage of the total federal budget, we now spend two-thirds less on research and development than we did in 1965, and the percentage of research grants receiving National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding has declined almost every year of the past decade. This leaves important – and even lifesaving– research on the cutting room floor.

We know that federal funding is vital to research — more than 60 percent of priority review drugs directly cite government research in their patent applications.

That is why I helped introduce two bills that would help direct additional funds to NIH and other federally-supported research institutions.

The Medical Innovation Act would generate funding for the NIH by redirecting into NIH research a small portion of funds from the settlement agreements big pharmaceutical companies that have broken the law make with the government.

This would support drug companies’ efforts to develop new cures, while making it difficult for corporations to profit from breaking the law and defrauding taxpayers. If this policy had been in place over the past five years, it would have generated an additional $6 billion more each year for the NIH.

The American Cures Act would increase funding across the board for the NIH, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Defense Health Program and the Veterans Medical & Prosthetics Research Program, at the rate of inflation plus five percent.

This would guarantee a steady, long-term investment in one of our most important industries.

Both of these bills would create jobs in Ohio, and ensure we are investing in the technology that will allow us to continue to lead the world when it comes to research and innovation.