The U.S. must fund more biotech innovation – or other countries will catch up faster than you think

In the coming years, U.S. market share in biotech will decline unless the federal government makes investments to improve the quality and quantity of U.S. research, writes the author.

Photo by Eric Prouzet on Unsplash

The U.S. has approximately 58 percent of the market share in the biotech sector, followed by China with 11 percent. However, this market share is the result of several years of previous research and development (R&D) – it is a present picture of what happened in the past. In the future, this market share will decline unless the federal government makes investments to improve the quality and quantity of U.S. research in biotech.

The effectiveness of current R&D can be evaluated in a variety of ways such as monies invested and the number of patents filed. According to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, the U.S. spends approximately 2.7 percent of GDP on R&D ($476,459.0M), whereas China spends 2 percent ($346,266.3M). However, investment levels do not necessarily translate into goods that end up contributing to innovation.

Patents are a better indication of innovation. The biotech industry relies on patents to protect their investments, making patenting a key tool in the process of translating scientific discoveries that can ultimately benefit patients. In 2020, China filed 1,497,159 patents, a 6.9 percent increase in growth rate. In contrast, the U.S. filed 597,172, a 3.9 percent decline. When it comes to patents filed, China has approximately 45 percent of the world share compared to 18 percent for the U.S.

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Juan Pablo De Rivero Vaccari
Dr. de Rivero Vaccari is an Associate Professor of Neurosurgery at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and a Public Voices Fellow of The OpEd Project. His research focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms of inflammation in the central nervous system after injury and disease with the goal of identifying therapeutic targets that can be used for the development of anti-inflammatory therapies.
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