Imagine for a moment that you are one of the approximately 44 million women in the U.S. affected by cardiovascular disease, or one of the 24 million with osteoarthritis. You'd want access to the most advanced and effective care. Oftentimes, your doctor would recommend a medical technology or device as an essential component of your treatment – placing a stent in a blocked artery or replacing your knee or hip with a new artificial one, for example.
Advances in the medical technology field play a major role in keeping women of all ages healthy and active. For younger women, medical technology may conjure up images of your grandfather's pacemaker or hearing aid, but it is so much more than that. Medical technology can help women become pregnant and safely give birth to healthier children. It can help detect and diagnose cancer early on, and then help treat it. Future gains in technology promise to offer us even more exciting breakthroughs that will allow us to live longer, healthier and active lives, and perhaps even treat some of today's toughest diseases, so that our children and grandchildren have a brighter future.
Unfortunately, medical innovation in the U.S. today is being stifled by a tax on medical devices, enacted by Congress in 2013. This tax takes resources away from companies that develop life-saving technology and limits their ability to invest in new research and development. That means that advances in treatment for today's life-threatening illnesses, as well as common conditions such as asthma, diabetes or sleep apnea, may be put on hold until tomorrow.
Medical technology is important for the health of all people, but women are more likely than men to be treated with medical devices throughout their lives, making this an important piece of the conversation about women's health. Further, we desperately need more R&D that focuses specifically on women. Medical products can affect men and women differently, and women's needs are often under-represented in clinical research. Anything that diverts funding away from important research and development represents a shift in the wrong direction and toward bad policy for women's health.
What's more, nearly 70 percent of caregivers in the U.S. and around the world are women, according to the Family Caregiver Alliance. We as women provide the majority of care to our children, spouses, parents and friends, and we play many roles while caregiving, including decision-maker, companion, and advocate. Medical technology and continued innovation are crucial in ensuring access to the best course of treatment for our loved ones, particularly with an increasing prevalence of chronic disease.
At Rotation Medical, we are advancing the treatment of rotator cuff injuries, which are the most common source of shoulder pain and disability, affecting more than 4 million Americans annually. Our breakthrough technology helps tendons heal by stimulating the growth of new tendon tissue. The Rotation Medical Bioinductive Implant, which is about the size of a postage stamp, is inserted through a small incision during a short, minimally invasive procedure. Because we are a small company, every dollar we pay toward the medical device tax is one less dollar we can use to reinvest funds in our efforts to expand our staff or develop new treatments.
Fortunately, right now there is support from both Republicans and Democrats to repeal the medical device tax. You have an opportunity help Congress pursue this change in course. You can help by calling your senator or member of Congress.
You can't always control your health, but you can take this simple step to ensure that we can continue to innovate new medical technologies for the many things that ail us today and the breakthroughs of tomorrow. Ask your Congresswoman or man to permanently repeal the medical device tax today.
Martha Shadan is the CEO of Rotation Medical.
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