• 14 June 2007
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Not Terrorism, but Finding Cures Is the Top National Issue

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Not Terrorism, but Finding Cures Is the Top National Issue

Say American voters in a survey conducted by nationally recognized Republican and Democratic strategy firms-Public Opinion Strategies and Peter D Hart Research Associates

The Americans rate the importance of finding cures to diseases as top national issue, much ahead of popularly known issues like fighting terrorism or dealing with illegal immigration according to the surveys conducted by Public Opinion Strategies and Peter D Hart Research Associates in the US on the outlook of the biotechnology, which was announced during the opening day of 2007 BIO International Convention in Boston.

Key Highlights of the Surveys

Industry Leader's Outlook on the Biotechnology Industry

  • Industry leaders are strongly optimistic about the future of the biotech industry and will continue to develop new therapeutics and products (79%).

  • The pace of discovery in the next 5-10 years will be faster in the next decade than that is today (56%)

  • Industry leaders perceive "regulatory burdens" and "political interference" as the most difficult challenges facing them in the next 5-10 years.

  • Say the federal government has had a negative impact on the biotechnology industry (56%).

  • Industry leaders believe avoiding price controls is the most helpful action the government could take (71%)

Public's Outlook on the Biotechnology Industry

  • The image of the biotech companies is strong and stable (86%)

  • Patient access for new biotech treatment in public healthcare is a overwhelmingly viewed as positive development (80%)

  • Almost three-quarters of voters agree the growth of alternative fuels is a positive development (73%).

  • By a margin of two-to-one, voters believe embryonic stem cell research is a positive development (63%).

  • Voters were split on how they perceived the development of GM crops

Biotech Goals

Industry leaders and voters were asked to review seven goals the biotech industry is trying to reach in the next 10-15 years. Industry leaders were asked to rate each on how likely the biotech industry would accomplish the goal and voters were asked to prioritize the importance of each goal. Industry leaders and voters agree on the likelihood and importance of three of these goals.

Finding cures to the serious diseases

Clean technologies to reduce pollution

Green drug factories

This is the most important revelation that bestows a higher level of expectation from the consumers, policy makers and the industry alike. Further, the Americans expressed majority support for full patient access to new biotech treatments, development of alternative fuels, and embryonic stem cell research as positive developments in the biotech industry. The surveys were conducted during the third and fourth week of April this year. The surveys not only took into account the opinion of the industry leaders but also the general public. Further, the two surveys were conducted jointly by the nationally recognized Republican and Democratic strategy firms Public Opinion Strategies and Peter D Hart Research Associates, which compared the views of nationwide voters and senior-level biotechnology industry executives on a number of issues, including health care, the environment, alternative fuels and stem cell research. While a national telephone survey of 800 registered voters was conducted during April 17-19, 2007 to seek the responses from the voters, a national Internet survey of 252 biotechnology industry leaders was conducted during April 11-24, 2007 to get the feedback from the industry leaders.

Commenting on the findings of the surveys, Jim Greenwood, president and CEO, BIO, said, "There is a lot for all of us to learn. I am heartened by the enormous public support for the current direction of the biotechnology industry. The results of this poll show strong public support for our industry and provide a helpful context as we work throughout the year to ensure a positive policy environment and a familiarity among the general public that allows us to continue to move towards our vision of a better future."

Top 10 Issues for the American Voters

1. Finding cures to help patients suffering from serious diseases (78%)

2. Improving the quality of public education (78%)

3. Improving the economy and creating good paying jobs (77%)

4. Combating terrorism in the US and overseas (71%)

5. Developing alternative energy (71%)

6. Securing borders and addressing illegal immigration (68%)

7. Protecting the environment from pollution and global warming (61%)

8. Reducing taxes (51%)

9. Increasing food production and enhancing nutritional value (48%)

10. Improving the nation's roads and highways (37%)

Note: Figures in brackets are percentage of voters

The survey findings clearly demonstrate that the voters and the biotechnology industry share a similar optimistic vision of the future--a vision of a world with cures and treatments for the most devastating diseases, a green, renewable supply of alternative fuels, and a cleaner environment. The groups of respondents-industry and general public--were optimistic that cures to major diseases will be found within the next 10-15 years. According to the survey results, industry leaders and voters share high levels of optimism about the potential for finding cures for serious diseases and have similar perspectives on the likelihood and importance of finding cures, developing clean technologies to reduce pollution, and creating "green drug factories." In fact the voters are more optimistic on the energy independence deliverables than the industry itself.

Only 47 percent of the voters thought GM crops are a "positive development" because they have dramatically increased food production and enhanced its nutritional value, alleviating the problem of hunger and malnutrition in the poorest countries of the world and these crops have reduced the reliance on chemical pesticides. Almost 43 percent of the voters felt GM crops are a "troubling development" as there have not been enough tests to confirm the risks and overall safety.

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