Engagement of the medical-technology sector with society

A publication written by David Williams, Elazer R. Edelman, Milica Radisic, Cato Laurencin and Darrel Untereker in Science Translational Medicine, 12 Apr 2017.

The medical-technology sector must educate society in an unbiased rational way about the successes and benefits of biotechnology innovation.

There is a tension in the United States between medical-technology innovators and the public. The former clamors for more funding to support research and health care, whereas the latter does not feel that it receives an adequate return on investment in medical-technology innovation. We clinicians and scientists have not made our case to the people, and we are responsible for closing this communication gap.

Data support the public’s perception. U.S. health expenditure is 17.1% of the gross domestic product—far higher than the 6 to 11% range in other developed countries. And although more than 65% of top medical device companies are based in the United States and 70% of medical-device patents granted in the United States are filed by U.S. organizations, a life expectancy of 79 years places the United States 29th in the world and 2 to 5 years lower than that in other developed countries. Further, U.S. infant mortality is 4 per 1000 live births, whereas most other developed countries have fewer than 3 per 1000.

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