Contentious Legislative Season Underway in Sacramento
With the deadline for bills with a fiscal impact to clear policy committees in their introduced house, BayBio has been busy lobbying several bills that would negatively impact biomedical research and innovation in the Golden State, as well as patient access to quality and affordable healthcare. The association has taken an active position on more than 30 bills this year, making 2013 among the busiest in our 22 year history. Major themes in the legislation have emerged, with several bills addressing extended producer responsibility, prescribing practices (including biosimilars and therapeutic substitution) and tax incentives for research, development, and manufacturing. BayBio’s bill list, with short, plain English descriptions, links to our letters of support and opposition, and legislative tracking information can now all be accessed online.
Obama Budget Takes Aim at Biosimilars and MediCare Drug Programs
President Obama unveiled his budget proposal last week, which contained several disappointing provisions for the life sciences industry. In what has become a nearly perennial exercise since the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010, the President has included a provision that would reduce the data exclusivity for biologics from twelve years to seven years. BayBio and other industry leaders fought hard for twelve years of data exclusivity to overlap the twelve years of patent protection for biologics in the creation of a pathway for biosimilars, which was ultimately subsumed as a provision within the ACA. Before that happened, the legislation carried by Rep. Anna Eshoo (D – CA), Jay Inslee (D – WA), and Jay Barton (R – TX) had strong bi-partisan support, with 86 Democratic and 63 Republican co-sponsors. The White House argues that the truncated data exclusivity could save $2.34 billion over the course of ten years, while the industry has maintained that the shortened data exclusivity would call into question whether innovator companies could recoup their investment costs, and thus would have a chilling effect on venture investments in biotech startups.
President Obama announces BRAIN initiative
Last Tuesday, President Obama announced a public-private brain mapping partnership. The Brain Research through Application of Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) initiative, would receive just over $100 million annually under the President’s proposed budget, including $50m from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), $40m from the NIH, and $20m from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Private sector partners identified thus far include the Allen Institute for Brain Research, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Kavli Foundation, and the Salk Institute of Biological Studies. The 15-member working group will release an interim report later this year detailing goals, milestones, plans, and timelines, with a full report due in 2014. Several Bay Area scientists are involved in the initiative- including co-chairman of the working group Dr. William Newsome, a Stanford neurobiologist.
BayBio Urges full NIH funding
BayBio is encouraging members of the Northern California House delegation to sign on to a letter organized by Representatives Ed Markey (D-MA) and David McKinley (R-WV) calling for full funding of the NIH in FY 2014. This annual letter highlights the NIH’s role in improving treatments, finding cures, and gaining understanding of the complex causes of diseases. In addition to bettering the lives of millions, NIH funding supports many of BayBio’s youngest, most innovative biotech companies through programs like the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant program. As of this week, fourteen Members from Northern California have signed onto the letter – Reps. Bera, Capps, Eshoo, Farr, Garamendi, Honda, Huffman, Lee, Lofgren, Matsui, McNerney, George Miller, Speier, and Swalwell.
BayBio in the Community
BayBio attended the open house for the district office of State Senator Jerry Hill and State Assembly Member Kevin Mullin, both Democrats from San Mateo. Hill and Mullin share office space in San Mateo, and welcomed constituents and friends earlier this month to visit their collaborative space in San Mateo. BayBio Director of Communications Travis Blaschek-Miller and Policy Associate Mallori Merandino were on hand to speak with the legislators and meet their staff.
BayBioPAC co-sponsored an extremely successful fundraiser for Dr. Richard Pan, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Health, in Sacramento on April 8th at the home of Donna Kaylor, Pfizer’s point person for state government relations in California. Dr. Pan has organized a committee to run for the Senate in 2014.