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Ohio Lawmaker Proposes New Incentives For Curing Diseases

Andy Chow
Statehouse News Bureau
Rep. Jim Butler (R-Oakwood) introduces bill that offers a reward in saved taxes for anyone who creates cure to major diseases.

Hope and innovation. Republican State Rep. Jim Butler says his proposed legislation will bring both.

The so-called Cure Bill, HB 345, would create a multi-state compact for a multi-billion-dollar reward to anyone who develops a cure to any major disease. Butler says his program offers a different incentive than what currently exists.

Butler says the compact would calculate how much money each state spends on Alzheimer's, Parkinson’s and various cancers over the course of five years. Butler says if someone creates a cure, they’ll get that money instead.

He says the possibility of a reward will entice investors who haven’t been willing to cash in before.

“I’ve talked to businesspeople who actually do this, venture capitalists and say absolutely venture capitalists will invest once the prize money is at a sufficient level,” Butler says.

So what makes this different from other efforts to find a cure?

Butler criticizes the pharmaceutical industry as being a business that thrives on treating a disease, not curing it. He says the publicly-funded research side, including facilities such as the National Institutes of Health, is also bogged down by red tape and grant funding.

Butler was backed by several members of the House Republican leadership, and says this puts another option on the table to encourage innovation.

“This is something that I think is unique, I think it’ll work,” he says. “And if it doesn’t work there’s still hope and we’re still trying.”

Some of the bigger groups that deal in this field, such as the American Cancer Society, did not learn about the bill until it was unveiled and were not ready to comment on the proposal.

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.