By Will Pedranti
Copyright © 2013, The Tulsa World. All Rights Reserved
Flossie Elizabeth Page, who lived to be 112, reportedly attributed her longevity, in part, to never taking any medicine. Although Flossie’s vitality is something to be admired, her lifestyle choice is certainly the exception rather than the rule for most Americans.
As the life expectancy of Americans increases, the body is going to suffer from more age-related conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and neurodegenerative diseases. For Americans to continue to maintain quality of life as they age, innovation in the form of drug and medical device technology will be needed to treat these conditions.
Indeed, spending on health care, including drugs and medical devices, will continue to be a large part of our country’s economy. But what government officials and consumers will demand in the future, in part as they attempt to control the rising cost of health care, is more innovation from new drug products and medical devices to treat conditions better and more efficiently.
And with ingenuity built into America’s DNA, it isn’t a question for the medical industry of whether that innovation will take; it’s a question of where that innovation will take place.
When we think of biotech, we often think of cities such as San Diego, Boston and San Francisco. Life-science companies have started in these cities not because there is something special in the drinking water, but because there is a strong commitment from government, academic institutions, private enterprise and industry associations to work together to encourage innovation and support its development.
Investments in research, infrastructure, people and companies have inspired tremendous private-sector growth in the life-science industry in these areas. And other communities have taken notice. We now see growth in Seattle, Denver, south Florida and other locations that want to take advantage of this growth in the industry.
If you attend a BIO International Convention — the largest biotech organization in the world and a conference Gov. Mary Fallin has attended in the past — you will see the presence of the many states, counties and cities that are trying to attract biotech business to their locations.
I believe a tremendous opportunity exists for Oklahoma to take advantage of this growth, develop the next generation of treatments to help patients and add quality, high-paying jobs to our communities. With the incredible research coming out of the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University, we need to continue to work to transfer this innovation into Oklahoma-based companies.
We have an excellent supporting cast with private organizations, such as the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, Presbyterian Health Foundation and the not-for-profit entity i2E Inc., as well as a commitment from the state government to grow this industry.
With the good business climate we have in Oklahoma, there is no reason we cannot keep the innovation home and attract outside companies to establish a presence here. It’s going a take continued commitment from the state and the above organizations to invest in research, infrastructure and the people who will make a difference.
If we do so, Oklahoma can become one of the great centers for the advancement of medical science to improve human lives.
Will Pedranti is an attorney in Hall Estill’s Corporate Services group. He has extensive knowledge and experience in the areas of health care and life sciences.