: Biden signs executive order targeting biotech as he talks up ‘cancer moonshot’


President Joe Biden on Monday signed an executive order that aims to boost the U.S. biotechnology industry, with the move coming as he gave a speech in Boston on a “cancer moonshot.”

The new order is intended to launch a national biotech and biomanufacturing initiative that will drive federal investments in areas that will define U.S. biotech leadership, according to a senior administration official.

Another senior official said other countries, especially China, are aggressively investing in biotech, and that poses risk to U.S. competitiveness.

But officials didn’t give a dollar amount for any potential funding requests tied to the new executive order, saying a figure would come on Wednesday when the Biden White House is slated to host a summit on biotech and manufacturing.

The president’s remarks about a “cancer moonshot” came on the 60th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s speech about putting a man on the moon, with Biden delivering them at JFK’s presidential library and museum.

“On the 60th anniversary of his clarion call, we face another inflection point,” Biden said in his speech, referring to Kennedy’s address.

“I believe we can usher in the same unwillingness to postpone, the same national purpose that will serve to organize … the best of our energies and skills to end cancer as we know it — and even cure cancers once and for all.”

A number of U.S. presidential administrations have talked about a cancer moonshot or “war on cancer,” including Nixon’s, Clinton’s, George W. Bush’s and Obama’s, as a Stat News report has noted. Scientists have been skeptical, saying, for example, that calls for one big breakthrough are inappropriate given cancer isn’t one disease but many, according to the report.

Biden said his plan is “completely doable.”

“The goal is to cut cancer death rates by at least 50% in the next 25 years, to turn more cancers from some death sentences into chronic diseases people can live with, to create more supportive experiences for patients and families,” he said.

Biden spoke earlier on Monday at Boston’s Logan International Airport, where he talked up last year’s bipartisan infrastructure law, and he is scheduled to take part in a Democratic National Committee reception at 6 p.m. before returning to Washington, D.C.

Biotech stocks, as tracked by the iShares Biotechnology ETF IBB, +0.18%, have lost 16% this year, while the broad S&P 500 equity index SPX, +1.06% has shed 14%.

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