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News and Press: MichBio News

Good-Bye to the Past Year, and Welcome 2017!

Friday, December 30, 2016   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Stephen Rapundalo
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My, oh my, the past year passed quickly though not without its excitement, churnings, impact and challenges. Should one expect anything different from life?

 

Early in the year, MichBio released its Michigan Bio-Industry Roadmap for Success, a strategic growth plan completed in partnership with Business Leaders for Michigan and the University Research Corridor. The report culminated a year-long effort to identify priorities and actions that stakeholders could rally around if Michigan is to become a top 10 biosciences state. Following its public release at a very well received Bio-Industry Growth Summit held in Lansing, the Roadmap was used as a calling card with state decision makers. Since then, MichBio raised awareness of the bio-industry and its potential for even greater economic impact. A successful Capitol Day in mid-May that included committee testimony and meetings with almost 60 legislators, along with half-dozen town halls and briefings around the state over ensuing months, pitched the Roadmap and need for supporting the industry. One key priority, re-establishment of an Angel Investor Tax Credit, was introduced before the House Tax Policy Committee in early fall, where it was approved. However, with little support from the Executive Office and Treasury, the bill died with the lame-duck session. It will be re-introduced in early 2017, and MichBio with other statewide partners, will once again spearhead a grassroots effort towards its successful passage.

 

On another legislative front, MichBio co-led a biopharma sector effort to pass a biosimilars substitution bill that would have changed the state pharmacy laws to address this new class of drugs. The House finally passed language reflecting the industry’s key requirement, namely that an attending physician must be notified by a pharmacist upon substitution with a biosimilar drug given their greater risk for untoward effects. Regrettably, such language was stripped out when the bill moved out of the Senate Health Policy Committee. Despite much advocacy on our part, the bill didn’t move during the lame-duck session and died waiting for an amendment and floor vote. We begin anew in early 2017 and hope that Michigan can join the 30 other states who’ve already passed similar legislation to the benefit of their citizen patients.

 

In addition, MichBio worked alongside BIO, and with local partners like the University of Michigan, on enactment of an anti-patent trolling law. We were successful in ensuring that academic research institutions and their technology transfer offices, along with commercial R&D entities were exempted from the law’s requirements that defined an originator of an abusive demand letter.

 

Federally, our efforts with numerous other national and regional partners, paid off with the successful passage of two, very significant pieces of bipartisan legislation. Both were spearheaded by Michigan legislators. Sen. Stabenow was instrumental in developing a universal GMO food labeling law (versus a patchwork of fifty sets of state regulations), and Rep. Fred Upton, led the charge on passage of the 21st Century Cures law. The two laws have broad consequences for Michigan’s bio-industry, and MichBio was there through thick and thin rallying Congressional support.

 

MichBio’s operations and activities were impacted for a good portion of 2016 as we contended with staff turnover. While Kate Oesterle came up to speed as the new Director of Marketing and Communications, having joined us at the very tail end of 2015, we endured a six-month search for a new staff person to handle membership and operations. We’re excited that Elizabeth Foster joined us in November 2016 to fill that role and you’ll be seeing and hearing a lot more from her in 2017 as we enhance member relations and services.

 

Changes too occurred with the Board of Directors. With the unplanned departure of both Chair and Vice-Chair almost simultaneously in late fall, along with Director vacancies created by other voluntary partings, MichBio had a short-lived leadership vacuum. The new Board leadership, Paul Morris from AlixPartners and Chris Stein from Ferndale Pharma, as well as newly appointed Directors from across the state, acted quickly on a number fronts over the last two months to ensure strong oversight of the Association’s operations and finances, and a sound strategic path forward.

 

We were heartened by the fact that participation in our Preferred Provider Purchasing Program increased significantly in 2016. MichBio now ranks in the top five nationally with the number of companies spending their R&D dollars (and thereby realizing substantial savings) with our many preferred vendors. A successful purchasing program brings revenues back to MichBio which then can be deployed to the benefit of members and our many activities.

 

As we look to 2017, members can expect additional vendors to join our Purchasing Program, new resources and programs to support emerging companies, increases in the number and variety of networking and other events, and enhancements to member-only value and access. That means you’ll be hearing from us more, and we hope members will engage us in turn, so that we can build an even more relevant organization to meet your business interests.

 

We kick off 2017 with the Biosciences Regulatory Compliance Workshop on January 17th and the MichBio Conference & Expo on January 18th in Kalamazoo. Don’t miss these events!

In closing, on behalf of MichBio – Kate Oesterle, Elizabeth Foster, Nancy Marcotte and myself - wishing you a Happy New Year.!

 

Stephen Rapundalo, PhD

President and CEO


Creating Value
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