Biotech Must Have Predictable Regs, More Capital, More Talented Workers to Thrive

6/23/10

Last week, a group of executives and leaders from state life sciences trade associations across the country, including myself, gathered here in Seattle to discuss the policy landscape at both the federal and state levels. Part of our agenda for the meeting, which took place at Amgen’s Helix campus along Elliott Bay, was to discuss the implications of a new study conducted by Battelle and commissioned by the Council on American Medical Innovation (CAMI) outlining the policy changes necessary to maintain a thriving life sciences and biotech industry in the United States.

And as a state with a thriving life sciences industry, the study also had very specific implications for Washington.

The study, for which I was interviewed, identifies four key challenges that we must address in order to maintain our leadership: 1) lack of consistency and predictability in the review and approval of new medical products and uncertainties in reimbursement; 2) shortfalls in private investment for company formation, R&D and related manufacturing job growth; 3) gaps between research and translation of medical innovation into new treatments; and 4) limitations in the U.S. bioscience talent pool.

The most important conclusion from the study and our resulting meetings in Seattle is that we cannot take for granted the strength and growth we have witnessed in the life sciences and biotechnology sectors so far. Our leadership in these industries as a state and as a country is ours to lose. We are beginning to experience some regulatory and financial limitations that are not good signs for sectors that have been among the few bright shining areas in an otherwise dim economic picture.

A warning shot went up this week: If we don’t take steps now to relieve policy pressure on life sciences, we face the serious risk of losing our global leadership in these areas.

Many within Washington state have a stake in this leadership, and as evidenced by the nearly 60 interested community members who joined us for the event: Lee Huntsman from Life Sciences Discovery Fund, John Gardner from Washington State University, Bob Drewel from the Puget Sound Regional Council and Carolyn Busch from state Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown’s staff, to name a few.

U.S. Rep Jay Inslee, whose House district covers parts of Kitsap, Snohomish, and northern King County, continues to be a champion for innovation and the need to support the life sciences and therapeutic development, as well as education. Congressman Inslee—named Legislator of the Year by the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO)—added … Next Page »

Chris Rivera is the President of the Washington Biotechnology & Biomedical Association. Follow @

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