Following Barack Obama’s televised speech to a joint session of Congress on health care, drugmakers have given their backing to the president’s proposed reforms so long as they are carried out in “a smart way”.

Chief executive of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, Billy Tauzin, said that “we agree with President Obama: every American should have access to high-quality, affordable health care coverage and services”. He added that “in life, we get precious few opportunities to fundamentally improve the lives of people [and] this is one of those times”, saying that “we commend the President for his vision and willingness to be open to new and different ideas”.

Mr Tauzin went on to say that millions of Americans lack insurance coverage or have excessive co-pays that force them to pass on needed medical treatments. “This not only has a detrimental effect on patient health, it also impacts job stability and economic growth”.

However he noted that “saving money is only part of the solution” and any health reform package “must foster continued medical progress and innovation”. Mr Tauzin added that “achieving bipartisan, comprehensive health care reform this year should be a national priority” and “we will continue to be a constructive partner to help meet this goal.”

In his speech, President Obama began by saying “I am not the first president to take up this cause, but I am determined to be the last”, adding that “our collective failure to meet this challenge year after year, decade after decade, has led us to the breaking point”.