Sunday, January 6, 2008

Healthcare: What Are the Implications for the Life Sciences Sector of the Presidential Election?

With Saturday night’s Presidential debates now part of the historical record, the question can be raised, what are the implications for the life sciences sector of the approaching Presidential election? Personally, I don’t think that they look too good. Except for Mitt Romney’s, ‘Let’s leave the drug companies alone.’, there weren’t any strong supporters on the stage that evening.
Until the parties’ respective candidates are clearly seen, and that might be by February, uncertainty will be hanging over life sciences. And, even then, there may not necessarily be a good outcome here for them. The traditional Republican support for business and free enterprise might not be a foregone conclusion if former Governor Mike Huckerbee becomes the party’s flag bearer. What would the implications of his FairTax be on government spending? Or, here’s a scary scenario, how about former Senator John Edwards as the running mate for Senator Barack Obama? Edwards isn’t shy about touting his past experience as a very successful trial attorney that went after Corporate America. He could cause a lot of mischief while serving as Vice-president. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s views on healthcare have long been known and wouldn’t bode well for life sciences companies. Then there are Senator John McCain and former Mayor Rudy Guiliani where there may be more traditional Republican viewpoints but national security and the global war on terrorism are the primary planks in their platforms. I wouldn’t expect much immediate relief for the sector from either of them. Of course, a wild card like New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg could make a run for the Presidency as an independent and would probably be the safest free enterprise play for business although this is all merely speculation right now.
2008 may not have much relief for the life sciences sector. Each new primary event in the current campaign could be a nail bitter for life sciences executives and investors. The New Year has started with pressure on the stock markets. On those rare occasions when the media is not dissecting the Presidential campaign, they are speculating on the possibility of a recession. The price of oil and the sub-prime meltdown are still hanging over the economy. If consumer spending flags and the economy falls into recession then the life sciences sector may find itself affected as it hasn’t been in prior economic slowdowns. Especially, those with other non-life science revenue streams.

With all the uncertainty surrounding the life sciences sector the 2008 Presidential election looms large, probably than at any other period in its history. I’ll continue to update this blog on this topic as we approach the November election. I would welcome other opinions from our readers on this subject. I look forward to contributing to Larry’s blog in the New Year and hearing from you!

Contributed by Guy de Lastin

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