Outsourcing Bioscience Innovation

One of the unintended consequences of the health care reform proposals working their way through Congress could be US device and drug companies further outsourcing innovation to foreign shores. As recently pointed out by Dr. David Vequist, the Director of the Center for Medical Tourism Research at the Univeristy of the Incarnate World in San Antonio, Texas, there is a link between medical tourism and biotechnology (J Commercial Biotechnology,Oct 2009).

As countries like India, Turkey, Malaysis, Korea and Thailand place bigger and bigger bets on inbound medical tourism, their biotechnolgy and device sectors are coincidentally ramping up to provide new and unique techologies to visitors like stem cells, drugs and other treatments not available otherwise.

In addition, these countries are providing care without the regulatory and government regulations that drive up costs, something even a US Congressman, Jared Polis (R-CO), acknowledged when, it was recently reported, he made a subtantial investment in medical tourism.

Finally, pundits are suggesting that whatever the result of the US health care reform efforts, either higher costs, more regulation, decreased access or shrinking US bioscience innovation will continue to drive patients overseas for care.

Reform efforts, medical tourism and bioscience innovation are connected. The outcome might be the hub of device development shifting from Minneapolis to Mumbai.

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