Policy and Innovation

Published on: 
BioPharm International, BioPharm International-06-01-2011, Volume 24, Issue 6
Pages: 40–45

BIO's president and CEO provides insight leading up to the 2011 convention.

Leadership, partnerships, and breakthroughs will converge at the Biotechnology Industry Organization's (BIO) International Convention this month in Washington, DC. Leaders from 65 countries across the globe, representing all fields of biotechnology, will come together to share their insights and forge new partnerships.

Jim Greenwood

It is significant that the convention will be in Washington, DC, this year because the time has come to take our advocacy in the nation's capital to a higher and more aggressive level. Biotechnology is crucial for developing new medical therapies, but at the same time, the industry is facing increasing uncertainty in rewards, thus reducing its appeal for sustained investments. The public and policymakers need to better understand and appreciate these challenges.


Our industry is facing struggles that cannot be modified by any single approach. Instead, we must find ways to reduce regulatory risk and uncertainly, enhance reward, and reinforce the position of the industry as a major contributor to resolving society's most pressing needs.

Thankfully, policymakers who recognize the value of biotechnology also recognize that the right policy environment can help the industry thrive. The ability of members of BIO to heal, fuel, and feed the world requires an economic and public-policy environment that supports their work. For instance, a balanced pathway to biosimilars will give biotech investors greater confidence in taking the financial risks of funding the research of biotech startups.

Other BIO policy priorities include ensuring that the National Institutes of Health has sufficient funding to sustain the public-private collaboration that is transforming biomedical discoveries into innovative treatments for patients. Congress must also provide FDA with the resources it needs to keep pace with rapidly evolving biomedical science and fulfill its vital health and safety mission. Strengthening FDA's review process is a focus of our ongoing discussions with policymakers about the next renewal of the Prescription Drug User-Fee Act. Working closely with our members, BIO also will remain engaged as the US Department of Health and Human Services moves to implement the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The Therapeutic Discovery Project (TDP) program, enacted in 2010, is an example of the type of policies necessary to spur continued medical innovation, while at the same time protecting and growing high-paying US jobs. The TDP program provided $1 billion in research grants and credits for small biotech companies pursuing new therapies for diseases, such as Alzheimer's, HIV/AIDs, Parkinson's, and Multiple Sclerosis. BIO is calling on Congress and the Obama administration to work together to extend and expand TDP to support continued American innovation and further accelerate the development of life-saving cures.

Meanwhile, along with our state affiliates, we will continue to work with state governments seeking to grow their biotech sectors as part of their economic development and job-creation strategies. BIO looks forward to engaging with leaders in Washington to ensure that policies support an economic environment that encourages innovation. BIO will continue to champion the policies that enable our members to saves lives and transform our world.

Jim Greenwood is president and CEO of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO).