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American taxpayers pour money into basic biomedical research, supporting the development of drugs that pharmaceutical companies sell back to those same taxpayers at exorbitant price tags — and in other countries for much less.

So the argument goes, striking some as unfair to Americans. But if the United States doesn’t underwrite the research, nobody else will, said Bruce Stillman, president of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, during a visit to STAT’s offices Thursday.

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