DC Influencer: Steve Ubl, CEO, AdvaMed

Steve Ubl, CEO of AdvaMed, talks to Jaimy Lee about communicating innovation and the need for certainty in the medical technology industry

AdvaMed recently launched a campaign to address innovation in the medical technology industry. What do you hope policymakers will take away?

The overriding objective is to really focus on innovation and its value. We've been a unique American success story if you look at declines in mortality across a range of diseases. It's not all attributable to medical technology, but life sciences and medical technology have driven a large portion of those gains in the past 20 years.

We want policymakers to appreciate that value proposition, but also expand the discussion to focus on other dimensions, such as our value to the economy and our continued ability to compete, which has emerged as one of the biggest concerns for US industry.

We start from a position of strength, but there are troubling trends on the horizon. Our trade surplus, for example, has been cut in half over the past 10 or 12 years. Venture capital investment is growing more quickly in Europe than here.

Would you say those are the biggest policy issues the industry will face in the next year?

If you look at the competitiveness framework, we will really focus in four or five key areas. The first is the FDA, which has been challenged. Its performance has deteriorated in recent years so it's a major focus to work with the FDA to try to improve its predictability and timeliness of decision-making and base its reviews on reasonable, risk-based standards. Nothing kills investment faster than uncertainty or unpredictability.

We've also advocated some cross-cutting policy ideas, such as having the White House establish an office dedicated to promoting US innovation.

How has AdvaMed's communication about innovation changed since the recession?

We are still very focused on telling the story of how the industry improves patients' lives, as well as the quality and efficiency of healthcare.

What has changed is we are trying to broaden this dialogue beyond the typical engagement we might have had with the FDA or the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, to look at capital formation, R&D and tax policy, through to free trade agreements. 

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