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Minnesota Doesn't Have the Horsepower

to Keep Medical Technology Leadership Forum
From Going Hoosier...


"A good day ain't got no rain.
A bad day's when I lie in bed
and think of things that might have been."

-Paul Simon, Slip Slidin' Away

A friend called this very interesting story to my attention.

Something about this doesn't make a lot of sense. The organization being discussed was originally located in Minnesota and is moving to Indiana. One of the founders is a former Minnesota Senator and the other is a U of M faculty member.

With all the big talk at the U about about medical devices and world-class biomedical research, this development is hard to understand. As recently as July 9 in the Daily, OurLeader was talking epicenter:"Our goal – and the goal embraced by the legislature and governor – is to make Minnesota the epicenter of discovery in biomedical science..."

From the Indianapolis Star:

December 7, 2008 Med-tech forum's move coup for state

Indiana landed the Medical Technology Leadership Forum last week, besting world-class competition to host the policy organization.

It wasn't really a fair fight.

Harvard and Dartmouth universities couldn't stack up to Indiana and Purdue universities. Minnesota-based medical-device maker Medtronic didn't have the horsepower of Indiana's Cook Group and Zimmer to keep the forum in Minneapolis.

The forum will have an office at the Indiana University Research and Technology Center in Downtown Indianapolis. The board is close to naming an executive director to replace Foote, who will remain on the board.

With a $400,000 annual budget, the forum won't make a big splash on the local landscape, but its presence in the health policy realm will be huge. The group, whose members include medical-device makers, academics and federal regulators, sponsors three forums to hash out important policy questions.

A meeting Monday and Tuesday here will center on the Food and Drug Administration, which has come under fire recently for being slow to approve new drugs.

The meeting will include a session with Sen. Evan Bayh, who chairs the Senate's Medical Technology Caucus. Gail Cassell, an Eli Lilly and Co. vice president and chair of the FDA's Science Advisory Board, will be part of the forum. Jane Henney, a University of Cincinnati professor and former commissioner of the FDA, will be in town, too.

"It seemed like (Indianapolis) was a place that was full of energy to invigorate an organization like this," Foote said.

There are two reasons this is important for the state. First, it centers on medical devices, which is a $17 billion industry, and device companies in Indiana represent $8 billion of that total.

Second, it adds policy formation to medical-device manufacturing and health-information management as critical areas that Indiana can exploit.

"It does not lobby," said David Johnson, president of BioCrossroads, who helped land the med-tech forum. "It will provide thought leadership from the policy-making level."

Mix it with the area's other key players -- drug makers, device makers, insurers, major pharmacies, the universities and hospitals -- and the region becomes an even bigger player.

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