The Media and I: American Biotechnology

By Henry I. Miller, MS, MD — Jul 11, 2024
Lars Larson and I discuss the future of American biotechnology.
Image by Michi S from Pixabay

Lars began by emphasizing the urgency of advancing biotechnology safely. I reassured him that this is possible, highlighting two key factors: aggressive private sector investment, federally funded basic research, and science-based regulation. But the proof is in the pudding: The first biopharmaceutical was approved for marketing in 1982 (I headed the FDA team that evaluated it), and it and those that followed have been a remarkable success story in every way.  In terms of revenue, seven of the top ten drugs in 2023 were biopharmaceuticals.

Unfortunately, regulatory agencies like the FDA, EPA, and the Department of Agriculture often created obstacles rather than facilitated progress, e.g., the FDA’s decision to regulate all genetically engineered animals as new animal drugs was a significant misstep, and EPA has done nothing right for almost four decades.

Lars then brought up lab-grown meat, expressing concern that it might eliminate traditional animal husbandry. I assured him that is was unlikely that lab-grown meat would ever be competitive in price or taste and that consumer choice would prevail if the market remained free from undue government interference. 

We also touched on biotechnology’s impact on human life. Lars raised concerns about moral misjudgments. While we can't entirely prevent moral lapses, I emphasized that biotechnology promises significant advances in aging research, cancer treatment, and the management of degenerative diseases.

You can hear the entire conversation here.

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Henry I. Miller, MS, MD

Henry I. Miller, MS, MD, is the Glenn Swogger Distinguished Fellow at the American Council on Science and Health. His research focuses on public policy toward science, technology, and medicine, encompassing a number of areas, including pharmaceutical development, genetic engineering, models for regulatory reform, precision medicine, and the emergence of new viral diseases. Dr. Miller served for fifteen years at the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in a number of posts, including as the founding director of the Office of Biotechnology.

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