Mass. Voters Strongly Support New Medications, Oppose Barriers to Biotech Innovation & Growth

May 14, 2009
Massachusetts voters value the biotechnology industry, strongly support the development of new medications, and don't want innovation or growth impeded by government, insurers or labor unions, according to a new poll commissioned by the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council.

"People get it. They know we are developing the therapies that are going to save or improve their lives and their loved ones some day, and they want it to continue," said MBC President & CEO Robert K. Coughlin. "Not only are Massachusetts companies working tirelessly to develop innovative treatments for people living with multiple sclerosis, cancer and rare genetic disorders, but they are also contributing valuable jobs and economic investment at a critical time in the Commonwealth. It is important that state and federal leaders continue to provide an environment that allows biotech companies to deliver on its mission of saving lives and creating jobs."

The survey of 400 likely Massachusetts voters was conducted April 23-27 by KRC/Communications. It has a margin of error +/-4.8 percent.

Noting the industry's positive/negative ratio of nearly 6 to 1, KRC/Communications President Gerry Chervinsky said that a candidate for elective office would be a "shoo-in" with a similar rating. "Any candidate running for office in Massachusetts would do well to stake out positions that are supportive of the biotech industry because clearly a candidate who opposes biotech, especially in the current economic climate, does so at the candidate's peril," Chervinsky added.

Specifically, the poll found that:
  • 89 percent of Massachusetts voters believe that creating medications to treat or potentially cure serious diseases like cancer, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis is more important than other priorities facing society. Sixty-eight (68) percent support providing the elderly and poor with full access to new treatments.
  • 78 percent believe that biotech companies undergoing expansion projects in Massachusetts should be "cost-conscious" and hire union companies only if they win competitive bids. Some labor unions have called on biotech companies to guarantee that they will only use union contractors.
  • 77 percent of voters believe that so-called biosimilars should have to undergo human testing before being approved by the Food and Drug Administration. That number climbs to 83 percent when voters are asked whether human testing should be done on a drug that would be prescribed for them personally. Biosimilars are the complex, biotech equivalent of generic drugs. 73 percent agree that biotech companies should be able to protect sensitive medical and scientific information for a period of time so as to encourage innovation. Congress is expected to take up the issue this year, although no poll respondents rated the issue a priority.
  • 54 percent of voters say dissemination of prescriber data should be encouraged because it allows drug companies to monitor the safety and efficacy of medications.
  • 91 percent oppose the use of financial incentives by insurance companies to get doctors to switch prescriptions, 87 percent oppose allowing them to override physicians' decisions, and 81 percent oppose allowing them to limit access to medications based on cost or the severity of a patient's condition. Seventy-nine (79) percent support creation of a health insurer code of conduct by the American Medical Association, and 62 percent even support enforcement of the code by the federal government.
  • 74 percent of Massachusetts voters support Governor Patrick's Life Sciences Intiative.
  • 77 percent support President Obama's decision to overturn former President Bush's ban on federal funding for stem cell research.
You can find the Executive Summary of the poll results online here.
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