Columbus - 

The following article appeared in the Columbus Dispatch on September 12, 2017:


http://www.dispatch.com/news/20170912/ohio-lawmaker-wants-to-offer-billions-for-cure-of-cancer-other-major-diseases


An Ohio lawmaker says he has a plan to offer multibillion-dollar rewards to individuals or companies who do what the world hasn’t seen for a good 50 years: cure a major disease like cancer, Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s.


With House Republican leadership at his back, Rep. Jim Butler, R-Oakwood, on Tuesday proposed having Ohio take the lead in creating a new multi-state compact that would offer billions in cash prizes to those who develop actual cures for major diseases.


States would pay for the prizes based on the money saved over five years from having the disease cured. For example, Butler said, curing Alzheimer’s could mean a prize of $12 billion to $25 billion, which states would fund through five years of savings on the disease, particularly through Medicaid.


Butler shared the pain and frustration of watching his mother and father die of cancer at ages 51 and 57. When doing research at the time, he was struck by the lack of hope in a cure, largely because of flaws in how research is funded and rewarded.


“The pharmaceutical industry, they’re not trying to cure you,” Butler said. “They’re trying to treat you, because that gives them the best return on their investment. If you have a cure, it’s over a short period of time, and it’s nearly impossible to charge enough to actual recoup the investment on research.”


The academic side isn’t much better, Butler said, because they are competing for grants to continue their research, which means showing some form of success or progress. Trying and failing to cure breast cancer, Butler said, could mean the research isn’t published and funding could dry up.


“There needs to be a very large incentive for research, so (no one) ... will every have to search in vain for a real hope for a cure,” he said.


Big prize money is needed to compete with the $1 billion per year in sales that a new blockbuster drug could create, Butler said. The idea, he said, is to make a deal too good to resist for venture capitalists or other major investors who see the potential of turning a $50 million investment into a multi-billion prize.


The multi-state compact would kick in once at least six states have joined. Once a cure is discovered and verified, the compact would pay the prize money and immediately take possession of the cure’s patent to market and distribute it worldwide.


Taxpayers, Butler said, would endure no risk because payments are made only when there is a cure, and states pay back the reward through savings from that cure.


Rep. Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati, who has worked with Butler on redrafts of the bill, called it a “big idea, with the conclusion, nothing ventured, nothing gained.”


Taking possession of the cure, “will be a big source of revenue for the compact and hopefully lead others to step forward and cure the next big thing,” Seitz said.

 
 
 
  
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