BIO and 2009 – the Year of Change




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Video title: BIO and 2009 – the Year of Change
Released on: June 30, 2009. © PharmaVentures Ltd
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At the international BIO convention 2009, Jim Greenwood, CEO of BIO, joined Fintan Walton to discuss the many different factors that have come together over the past year to challenge the biotech industry. With the Obama administration in the White House and healthcare reform on the table, BIO has become essential for its members giving them the representation they need to ensure that policy changes work in their favour. The result, Jim Greenwood hopes, is that the industry will be supported by government as they come to understand the importance of biotechnology in the modern world.
2009: The Year of profound changes.
Fintan Walton:
Hello and welcome. We are here at Bio 2009 at the annual convention here in Atlanta. We are here to record a series of programs with leading pharmaceutical and bio technology companies to talk about their both vision and what they are doing to build their organizations in tough economic times. Hello and welcome to PharmaVentures business review here at Bio in Atlanta. On this show we are privileged to have the CEO of BIOJim Greenwood. Welcome.
James C. Greenwood:
Similarly with you.
Fintan Walton:
James C. Greenwood here in 2009 it's interesting times for the bio technology industry. As the CEO of BIO what's your view?
James C. Greenwood:
Well it's been a year of profound changes. The stock market if you look a year ago when we where, had this meeting in San Diego stock market was well above 12000, it dropped by half, of course in the, it really accelerated the difference between the haves and have not's of biologies biotechnologies. So if you are if you are large company with product if you are and Genentech, Amgen extra you did pretty well far better than the than the dubbed average as a whole and that's largely because this the spending on healthcare is not that discussionary you know people are still going to get sick, they are still going to need products for diabetes and for Multiple sclerosis for cancer but if you are the small companies and you don't have if you are one of the small companies and you don't have a product for sale yet on the market and you are you know the unique thing about, about drug discovery which is you know you invent a mouse trap and you patent the mouse trap you can begin to sell the mouse trap the next day and start to generate revenues. You patented a molecule now you are off on the twelve year venture and through research and development, the clinical trials and FDA approval and for all of that time you are entirely reliant on investor capital and because of this worldwide economic recession there is not a lot of investment going on. So it's a very tougher time. It's been a year of political "
Fintan Walton:
Change.
James C. Greenwood:
Relatively as well and had this huge elections, elected the first African American in the white house, great sense of optimism and change and we have seen some change. We saw the expansion of health programs for children that president Bush had vetoed president Obama signed. That's good for kids and happens to be also be good for companies who sell healthcare products and this market is wider. The president reversed president Bush's limitation on Embryonic stem cell research and so that's a good sign. But we have ahead of us what is the president going to do on follow on biologics or bio similars what is the president going to do on healthcare and these can be great opportunities for us. These can be very challenges and threats to us. And then I say or just say on the Research side our progress has been steady but still slow. Still a little disappointingly slow and it is sort of or we there yet feel like can we get more products approved.
Biotechnology area greatly influenced by political decisions
Fintan Walton:
Right. I suppose the whole area of bio technology is greatly influenced by political decision making?
James C. Greenwood:
Yeah.
Fintan Walton:
Whether that's at the FDA level where drugs are gonna be approved or whether it's the sort of stimulus package that the president is gonna to put into the economy during times like we have in 2009 that really means that an organization like yours becomes increasingly important to the biotechnology industry?
James C. Greenwood:
That's exactly right. As I put it for the thirty years of our history it's really been the science and the financing that has determined the pace of advancement. We are at point now where policy is going to be ever more important in part because we are in this economic downturn and policies that can help companies endure that matters a lot but as I just mentioned you look at the bio stimulus legislation we are for it we want to see it happen it can be done right and If it is done well patient safety can be protected, competition can be engendered, innovation can be inspired and we can continue to attract investments into biologics. If it's done poorly patient safety would be at risk and incentives for innovation can be destroyed. And on the broad issue of healthcare reform we all want everyone to have access to healthcare every man, woman and child in America. You can't just do that you can't do that simply by saying ok let's pay less for everything. As I tell members of congress and I am having been doing this myself as a member of congress when congress sees the baby boomers heading towards Medicare they see this dragons coming over the horizon and they think that it sits on the dragons chest, hospital cost, doctors cost, drug cost and they feel that they must slay those dragons before the dragons consume the entire federal budget. So as those dragons are getting nearer getting to see that what it really says is cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes and it is the biotechnology that can slay those dragons if we haven't been slain ourselves first.
Fintan Walton:
Right.
James C. Greenwood:
And so getting the policy right enables us to really reduce the incidents of chronic disease as opposed to having our reimbursements so diminished that there is no more investment.
Broader policies are necessary to deliver effective healthcare.
Fintan Walton:
Yeah I suppose you are saying if I can say this that you know simple cost cutting is a very short term can be a very short time measure but to deliver effective healthcare you need to have a broader policy?
James C. Greenwood:
Yeah we could if there are policies that would enable the American consumer to pay European prices, Canadian prices for drugs and we could accomplish that and get about a 25% reduction save the healthcare system 50 to 60 billion dollars a year but what we would have is a permanent discount in the steady state of drugs but what we wouldn't have is all of the next generation of products which are going to incredibly more effective and as long as we have millions of millions of people suffering from diseases for which there are no therapeutics right now and this is hardly the time to slow down innovation.
Is biotech industry ready to adapt to changes in regulation at the FDA level?
Fintan Walton:
I suppose when we look at our own industry the biotech industry it is an industry that has always been flexible, it has always been had adapted to changes through economic challenges as well as changes in the regulation at the FDA level and so forth so do you think that the biotech industry is ready for more for change?
James C. Greenwood:
Well I don't think we have any choice. The companies that survive will be the ones who are not only innovative in their science but in innovative in their business practices. The there is little bit of dialing is going on here and that is that the companies who really have game changing innovative products are probably still going to be able to attract investment capital. If a company is just innovating on the margins, doing me too products they are probably not going to they may not they may not survive and on the business side there are they are going to have use survival tactics, they are going to have to find partners, they are going to have to look towards big pharma for investment, they are going to have to have to probably narrow their focus, they may they may hibernate for a while and become virtual companies until their investment window opens up again.
The importance of Stem cell research in the next decade
Fintan Walton:
So one of the things about our industry as well is that there is new innovations coming through and Stem cells you mentioned as there's been a change in legislation there as well. How important do you see Stem cell research in bringing the next decade of change within the bio tech industry?
James C. Greenwood:
Well, I think that Stemcell research ultimately may become the way we deal with healthcare and that's obviously a very large statement but what I mean by that is all of disease and for that matter injury occurs at the cellular level and if we can truly generate the ability to take a patient's own DNA and to produce from that DNA a new cell to replace diseased or injured cells and we are able to do it in a scalable way and there is no reason that that cannot be done scientifically. It's sort of the holy rail of healthcare so I think I think this isn't going to happen overnight. We have a Geron company one of our Bio members in menlo park has just had FDA approval for the first in human embryonic Stem cell research to be done. This would be done in severely spinal injured patients Paraplegic and Quadriplegic and if what happens in mice happens in humans they will walk again.
Is BIO equipped to deal with challenges ahead in the biotech industry?
Fintan Walton:
Right. But when we look at the biotech industry and particularly BIO your organization is that are the challenges bigger for you now and is BIO equipped and going to be equipped better to deal with these changes? as I said going right at the beginning a lot of what's gonna happen in biotechnology in it's broadest sense is at the interface of government decisions, key decisions both in the appointments of the head of the FDA but also all of all the elements of financial bailouts or whatever terms you call those stimulus packages may be way of describing it so how from your perspective CEO of BIO do you see this as the biggest challenge that you've had?
James C. Greenwood:
Well I think BIO is well positioned to help all of our companies get through this. On the policy side and it supplies the smallest companies to the largest companies. We have built a very powerful team of both policy and advocacy personal. We have following the election we reoriented our outside consultants so we have identified consultants that we think can get us access into the Obama administration and into the leadership democrat leadership of the house of senate. We think our story is compelling, we think that this science is on our side and so it's we need to it's not that we need to twist anyone arm or get them do anything they have gotten that we just need to get the opportunity to tell our tale. We are trying to change the legislation on small business and research grants SBIR grants which are more important than ever right now. So we think and we have been quite successful we had a huge battle on patent legislation and when that battle began a couple of years ago a few years ago it was the large information technology companies the DELLs and the MICROSOFTs the APPLE and so forth on one side and little old BIO on the other side we were the David against Golliath ultimately we essentially won that fight in the senate and we are doing very well on the bio stimulus legislation. We are having impact on healthcare reform and so I think we are we are well positioned to do that and then our partnering and investor conferences are more important than ever. At the international convention this year our general registration is down but the activity at the partnering business the business forum is just smoking
Fintan Walton:
Right. Indeed.
James C. Greenwood:
And it places so much need for it.
Embarking on broad communication programs about biotechnology and stem cells.
Fintan Walton:
Indeed. I suppose also when you look across the United States and the in the end BIO is delivering to the American people ultimately?
James C. Greenwood:
Yes.
Fintan Walton:
Do you think you have got the American people behind you?
James C. Greenwood:
Well it's an excellent question. The short answer is no because and we have done surveys so we know most people don't know what biotechnology is they think they may think about the stem cells but they don't know what it is. Like rocket science it's very complicated but people know what it looks like when the shuttle takes off. People don't know what it looks when a monoclonal antibody goes into a patient and treats itself .
Fintan Walton:
Unless they have got evaluate has got breast cancer yeah.
James C. Greenwood:
Yes but it's yeah microscopic and can't really see it so what we are we have embarked on a pretty a broad communications program. We are we are starting like any campaign we are starting with our base like a political campaign and our base is the men and women who work in bio technology companies. So I am doing town meetings. Going after company after company and speaking with their employees getting them up to speed on what the policy issues are. We have created some new websites IMBIOTA IMBIOTEC.ORG which is designed for the people in the field so that they can have a social networking place that they can go, exchange stories, learn about the advocacy issues the policy issues and hopefully become engaged communicating with their own members of congress. So we are doing that doing a number of other things we are doing all the face book and twitter kind of things we do these days. We are also I do a number of satellite media tours. We will take a hook like national breast cancer month sit in the studio with a breast cancer survivor who has survived because of let's say Herceptin from Genentech and we will do a media tour this go you know by the miracle of satellites from city to city to city and tell our story on traditional medium as well.
BIO's cooperations with other organizations
Fintan Walton:
Amazing, so how close did you work with other organizations? Obviously there is a smaller bio tech association's like BayBIO in San Francisco but also equally you have got the pharmaceutical manufacturers association here in the US. Is there cooperation, coordination there?
James C. Greenwood:
Yes so we have affiliates in almost every state and there is a very nice two way street. If there is an issue that's bubbling up at the state level and our state affiliate needs our expertise we will send people out, we will acquire experts consultants and so forth. Similarly our members of congress are primarily interested in hearing from constituents who have a vote and so the we use our affiliates to communicate with our federal legislators, ask them to take certain positions of co sponsor bills then we have a fly in where we bring 250 people into from all the states into Washington to sort of swarm the hill and talk to their members of congress. So that's one aspect. The other aspect is that it helps to build coalitions in Washington. so take an issue like patent reform you have trade associations for the big information technology companies on one side of the line so we partner with pharma we partner with AdvaMed medical device organizations and ultimately the university researchers have big stake in the outcome and ultimately our trade unions because we were able to persuade trade unions that that weakening intellectual property leads to outsourcing and depletion of jobs in America.
Fintan Walton:
And increase in generics they claim by that?
James C. Greenwood:
Yes.
Fintan Walton:
Jim Greenwood thank you very much indeed for coming on the show and telling us all about BIO.
James C. Greenwood:
My pleasure. Thank you.
James C. Greenwood
President and Chief Executive Officer
James C. Greenwood is President and CEO of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) in Washington, D.C., which represents more than 1,200 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United States and in more than 30 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of innovative healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products. BIO also produces the annual BIOInternational Convention, the world's largest gathering of the biotechnology industry, along with industry-leading investor and partnering meetings held around the world. Since his appointment in January of 2005, he has markedly enhanced the trade association's capacity increasing both it's staff and budget by nearly fifty percent. BIO is now a world class advocacy organization playing a leading role in shaping public policy on a variety of fronts critical to the success of the biotechnology industry at the state and national levels as well as internationally. Mr. James C. Greenwood represented Pennsylvania's Eighth District in the U.S. House of Representatives from January 1993 through January 2005. A senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, he was widely viewed as a leader on health care and the environment. From 2001 to 2004, Mr. James C. Greenwood served as Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation with oversight authority over issues in the full Committee's vast jurisdiction. He led hard-hitting investigations into corporate governance at Enron, Global Crossing and WorldCom; terrorist threats to our nation's infrastructure; and waste and fraud in federal government agencies. Prior to his election to Congress, Mr. James C. Greenwood served six years in the Pennsylvania General Assembly (1980-86) and six years in the Pennsylvania Senate (1986-1993). Mr. James C. Greenwood graduated from Dickinson College in 1973 with a BA in Sociology. From 1977 until 1980, he worked as a caseworker with abused and neglected children at the Bucks County Children and Youth Social Service Agency.
BIO
BIO, is the world's largest biotechnology organization, providing advocacy, business development and communications services for more than 1,200 members worldwide. Our mission is to be the champion of biotechnology and the advocate for our member organizations"both large and small. BIO members are involved in the research and development of innovative healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology technologies. Corporate members range from entrepreneurial companies developing a first product to Fortune 100 multinationals. They also represent state and regional biotech associations, service providers to the industry and academic centers.