December 'On the Road' with Stephen Rapundalo
Thursday, December 18, 2014
I spent the entire week after Thanksgiving attending the Council of State Bioscience Associations retreat. This annual event, hosted by the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) and held in New Orleans, brought executives and senior staff from all the state bioscience associations, as well as representatives from the major pharmaceutical/biotechnology companies and an assortment of purchasing program vendors like VWR, Linde, ShareVault, Office Depot nd others. Over a hundred participants discussed the latest in legislative policy issues affecting the bio-industry, and more importantly, shared best practices in bioscience association programming and operations. Many good ideas were presented for MichBio to contemplate as we develop our 2015 strategic operational goals.
Once back in Michigan, Peter Pellerito, Senior Consultant on Economic Development and University Relations for BIO and I met with Tom Lewand, Director of Economic Development for the City of Detroit, and then with Joan Dunbar, PhD (VP of Technology Commercialization) and Ken Massey, PhD (Director of Venture Development) of Wayne State University. In both meetings we discussed opportunities for collaboration and support for their respective missions. Later that same day I attended the annual University of Michigan Holiday Reception hosted by the Office of the VP for Research. The event, held at the U-M Museum of Art, was a great opportunity to network with senior leadership and members of the university’s research community.
Mid-week found me in Lansing at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) for the quarterly meeting of the state’s SmartZones™, incubators, and entrepreneurial service providers. The regular gathering includes updates on the latest in programming, initiatives and services being offered by the various stakeholders. The MEDC instituted the meeting to better integrate providers and services around the state.
Then I attended the annual "Meet the Xconomists” Reception at the U-M North Campus Research Complex. This event brings together a cross-section of entrepreneurs, innovators, investors, tech transfer professionals, and others to celebrate the accomplishments in Michigan’s high-tech sector. The MEDC, Ann Arbor SPARK and U-M Office of Technology Transfer were the gracious hosts. The week ended with my stopping by the Holiday Open House at MC3 where I caught up on the latest in the company’s growth plans – stay tuned for an announcement in early 2015. MC3 assists companies in advancing early-stage medical devices mostly in the electromechanical and extracorporeal technology space.
This past week began by holding a half-day strategic planning meeting with the Michigan-based sales team for VWR. We reviewed strategic goals for the coming year and developed plans for providing even greater value and savings to companies who take advantage of MichBio’s Preferred Purchasing Program.
On Tuesday, I traveled to Midland and presented retiring U.S. Rep. Dave Camp with a Legislator of the Year award. MichBio announced the honor at the MichBio 2014 Expo & Conference but neither the Congressman nor his staff was able to accept it at the time. So we managed to squeeze the photo opportunity in right before the end of his distinguished tenure. Rep. Camp has been a great champion for the bio-industry and most recently led the effort for comprehensive tax reform, especially repeal of the awful medical device tax. His leadership, expertise and influence will be greatly missed in Congress.
Speaking of policy-related matters…the Michigan State Legislature has kept me busy the last couple of months, but most notably this week. MichBio, along with a number of medtech company representatives worked feverishly to mitigate some unintended consequences of PA 280 or the Michigan Pharmacy Compounding Law. The measure was designed to regulate compounding pharmacies and hold accountable any party that provided adulterated products and caused harm to patients (you probably heard about the criminal indictments related to the 2012 meningitis outbreak). Unfortunately, the law included medical device manufacturers/wholesalers/distributors alongside pharmaceutical manufacturers and compounding pharmacies. It requires those companies to hire a licensed “pharmacist-in-charge” to oversee the product supply chain and be responsible for its integrity. Obviously, medical device companies do not provide products on prescription nor would a pharmacist be trained or knowledgeable about such products. Thus, we’ve been working with legislators, as well as the State of Michigan’s Licensing and Regulatory Agency (LARA) and the Attorney General’s office, to amend the law and exempt medical device companies from the its requirements. The last couple of days were spent nursing the amendment language through the legislative process only to see it unattended as the Legislature wrestled with road funding and other high profile matters. Watch for our upcoming Advocacy & Regulatory Alert that will provide update information on the matter’s resolution.
In between my visits to the State Capitol I did have time to meet yesterday with Rose Carmichael, President and CEO of BONWRx Inc. She moved to Michigan earlier this summer and built a manufacturing facility in Lansing. The company markets proprietary biomaterial products for the orthopedic and neurological markets.
So that brings 2014 to a close. It’s been a busy year for MichBio as we launched the MichBio U webinar series, featured FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, M.D. at our annual Expo & Conference, hosted several successful BioConnections partnering events, and launched a new website with more features and resources to benefit the Michigan’s bio-industry. And we were excited for our Marketing Director, Katie Trevathan and her husband, who became the proud first-time parents of a baby boy, Ethan – a hearty congrats to them.
Staff and I are most grateful to our members, sponsors and vendors for all their continued support. We appreciate your commitment as MichBio works with you to grow the bio-industry here in Michigan. Best wishes for the holiday season and a prosperous New Year. See you in 2015!