Brin: Regulatory Burden Discourages Health Entrepreneurs

(p. A13) Earlier this month, at a private conference for the CEOs of his portfolio companies, venture capitalist Vinod Khosla interviewed Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, asking them if the company might jump into health care. “It’s just a painful business to be in,” Mr. Brin replied, later noting that “the regulatory burden in the U.S. is so high that I think it would dissuade a lot of entrepreneurs.”
Mr. Brin is right. As a neurosurgeon-scientist and entrepreneur who co-founded a bioelectronic medicine company that deploys implantable technology to supplant drugs, I wish he were wrong.
. . .
. . . entrepreneurs should be allowed to carve out their own turf and let patients choose their own level of risk.
Consider the case of Goran Ostovich, a burly, 47-year-old truck driver from Mostar, Bosnia. Mr. Ostovich has suffered from long-standing rheumatoid arthritis and needed near-permanent bed rest. With his hands and wrists swollen and aching, he could no longer hold on to a wheel or even play with his small children. He tried a variety of medications. None worked.
When I met Goran at his doctor’s office in 2012, however, he didn’t seem at all afflicted with the disease. That’s because, one year earlier, he had been offered the opportunity to be the first participant in a clinical trial of a new therapy based on my invention. He received a bioelectronic implant and rapidly improved.
. . .
Since news of this clinical trial’s success became public, people from all over the U.S. stricken with rheumatoid arthritis have emailed, called and sent letters pressing for their shot at potentially effective–but not yet FDA-approved–treatments.
. . .
Some patients are very willing to take a calculated risk, . . .

For the full commentary, see:
KEVIN J. TRACEY. “Let Patients Decide How Much Risk They’ll Take; Take a tip from Sergey Brin: The health-care regulatory burden stops entrepreneurs from getting into the game.” The Wall Street Journal (Mon., July 28, 2014): A13.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date July 27, 2014, and has the title “Let Patients Decide How Much Risk They’ll Take; Take a tip from Sergey Brin: The health-care regulatory burden stops entrepreneurs from getting into the game.”)

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