CNN Food and Health

Cancer Research Can Benefit From Investment Credits

Aired Nov. 14, 1995
1:13 p.m. EST (1813 GMT)

Abstract : The National Cancer Summit is being held today to reaffirm the war on cancer declared by President Nixon. Among the participants is an investment adviser who discusses tax incentives for research investments.

Full Text:

LOU WATERS, Anchor: Death rates from cancer are beginning to decline in the United States, but are we really winning the war against cancer? For those fighting the disease today, the promises of a breakthrough tomorrow may not matter. In Washington, leading doctors, researchers and others are gathered today re-declaring the so-called war on cancer. CNN Medical Correspondent Andrew Holtz is at the National Cancer Summit. He joins us now with more on all of this. Andrew.

ANDREW HOLTZ, Medical News Correspondent: Lou, the summit was supposed to take place at the Senate Office Building, the Dirksen Senate Office Building, but the partial shutdown of the federal government forced patient advocates, cancer researchers and everyone else to pack up and move across town to Washington's Grand Hotel. And, there, the participants, including prostate cancer survivor and National Cancer Summit co-sponsor, Michael Milken [sp], noted that when President Nixon declared war on cancer in 1971, he predicted victory within a decade. Almost a quarter of a century has passed with some progress, yet the conquest of cancer remains elusive.

Many participants called for more money, of course, for cancer research, but not just from the U.S., also from other nations where patients also benefit from discoveries made here. And several speakers said health insurance should pick up more of the tab for tests of experimental treatments. There are also representatives from the private sector, from biotech companies, pharmaceutical companies, here, talking in terms of regulatory reforms and other things to help them get discoveries from the laboratory into clinics and to the patients.

Joining me now is Alexander Barkas, who is a moderator of one of the panels with private sector representatives.

[interviewing] You're also involved in attracting money - investment money - for biotech medical research companies. What would attract more money to cancer research?

ALEXANDER BARKAS, Investment Adviser: I think one of the things that we believe would be a big help would be to have additional incentives for capital to flow into this industry and some of the things that we are thinking about are things like targeted capital gains relief, even beyond the current proposals to lower capital gains rates, and also some return of research and development limited partnerships as applied to medical research.

ANDREW HOLTZ: Of course, any patient who's been treated for cancer recently, or a lot of diseases, who's gotten a drug or some other treatment that comes from a biotech company may see that the bills are pretty hefty, and they might ask, `There seems to be a lot of money going to these companies, now why do they need more?'

ALEXANDER BARKAS: Well, there are two reasons. One is that the successes are few, relative to the number of programs that are supported and that fail along the way. The second reason is that the capital comes in very early and continues to come in over a long period of time, up to 10 to 15 years, and the cost of that capital is quite high, relative to the returns that companies are making. So, these are not excessive profits by any means.

ANDREW HOLTZ: OK. And, now, you're not- Private industry is also developing more partnerships with academia, is that right?

ALEXANDER BARKAS: Well, we're supporting-

ANDREW HOLTZ: It's a joint project.

ALEXANDER BARKAS: We are supporting research going on in academic centers. The pharmaceutical companies are funneling money through biotech companies-

ANDREW HOLTZ: Thank you very much, Mr. Barkas.

ALEXANDER BARKAS: You're welcome.

ANDREW HOLTZ: And this afternoon there will be an action plan developed to try to revitalize the war on cancer. Lou and Bobbie?

LOU WATERS: OK. Andrew Holtz in Washington.


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