Public Policy Plays a Critical Role in Biohealth Industry Success
BioForward works actively to:
- Shape state and federal policy through education and engaging with policymakers
- Collaborate with legislators, industry, and research institutions on critical biohealth issues and initiatives
- Monitor and inform members of legislation that will impact our industry
- Educate members on how they can be engaged in public policy
- Provide essential data to decision-makers on the economic benefit of Wisconsin’s biohealth industry
- State Legislative Activities
- Federal Legislative Activities
- Wisconsin's Biohealth Industry Economic Impact
Wisconsin’s 2020 legislative recap started with the legislature effectively adjourning mid-March 2020, when the pandemic abruptly ended the 2020 legislative session. The Assembly had finished its regular business, but the Senate, which was scheduled to finish its actions the last week of March, never returned to act on regular session business. As such, our advocacy efforts during most of 2020 were focused on our companies’ ability to continue to operate during Safer-at-Home and proactive preparation related to vaccines and prescription drug pricing. As expected, these issues immediately were addressed with the start of the 2021 session.
Current Legislative Actions BioForward is Tracking
Wisconsin PBM Legislation (Senate Bill 3, now Wisconsin Act 9)
A reintroduction of the PBM bill from the last session moved along quickly. This bill, authored by a large group of bipartisan legislators, generally requires pharmacy benefit managers to be licensed with the commissioner of insurance or to have an employee benefit plan administrator license under current law. The bill also established certain requirements on pharmacy benefit managers and certain health plans regarding their interactions with pharmacies and pharmacists.
Governor Evers signed the bill on March 26, 2021.
Legislation to Allow Pharmacy Students to Administer Vaccines Proceeds (2021 AB 4 / 2021 SB 60)
Assembly Health Committee Chairman, Rep. Joe Sanfelippo and Sen. Dale Kooyenga, introduced AB 4 / SB 60, legislation that would allow pharmacy students and pharmacy technicians to administer vaccines. The companion bills both had hearings and were recommended for passage. A number of organizations — including Walgreens, the Pharmacy Society of Wisconsin and the Medical College of Wisconsin — backed it, saying it would dramatically expand the number of vaccinators in the state. BioForward registered in support of this legislation.
Governor Evers signed the bill on February 19, 2021
Support for Liability Protection from COVID-19 Lawsuits for Wisconsin Businesses and Universities
In the fall of 2020, Wisconsin legislators introduced legislation that would provide safe harbor protection for businesses, homeowners, and government entities such as schools or universities from COVID-19 litigation.
Supported and signed by Governor Evers.
Support Co-pay Accumulator Legislation (2021 SB 215 / AB 184)
Senator Andre Jacque (R-DePere) and Representative Paul Tittl (R-Manitowoc) have introduced 2021 Senate Bill 215 and Assembly Bill 184, known as “co-pay accumulator legislation.” This legislation which would require health insurance policies that offer prescription drug benefits, self-insured health plans, and pharmacy benefit managers, to apply amounts paid for prescription drugs by or on behalf of a person covered under the policy/plan to any calculation of an out-of-pocket maximum or to any cost-sharing requirement of the policy or plan.
These bills have been introduced and are waiting for legislative review and action.
BioForward Promotes Investments Into Biohealth Economic Infrastructure as a Part of the 2021-23 Biennial Budget Bill
BioForward is urging the State Legislature and Governor Evers to support Wisconsin’s biohealth economic infrastructure in the 2021-23 biennial budget bill through additional support for UW-Madison, expansion of UW-System funding and borrowing authority, and expansion of R&D tax credits and workforce development issues. Further, BioForward has requested that the initiatives related to pharmaceutical pricing and transparency be removed from the biennial budget debate.
Legislature and Administration Updates
Andrea Palm Joins Biden Administration – Karen Timberlake is New DHS Secretary-Designee
On January 18, 2021, it was announced that Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary-designee Andrea Palm has been nominated to be Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in the Biden Administration. She will depart DHS to undertake this opportunity on January 20, 2021.
Gov. Evers also announced that Karen Timberlake, DHS secretary under former Gov. Jim Doyle during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic virus response, will serve as DHS interim secretary. Timberlake will officially start at the DHS on January 25, 2021. Timberlake has most recently been working for Michael Best Strategies, a contract lobby firm, in Madison.
Legislative Leadership in 2021-22
All of the legislative caucuses have met and elected the following leadership for next session.
Assembly Republican Leadership 2021-22
- Speaker – Robin Vos
- Speaker Pro Tempore – Tyler August
- Majority Leader – Jim Steineke
- Assistant Majority Leader – Kevin Petersen
- Caucus Chair – Tyler Vorpagel
- Assistant Caucus Chair – Cindi Duchow
- Caucus Secretary – Jessie Rodriguez
- Caucus Sergeant at Arms – Sam Kerkman
Assembly Democratic Leadership 2021-22
- Minority Leader – Gordon Hintz
- Assistant Minority Leader – Dianne Hesselbein
- Caucus Chair – Mark Spreitzer
- Assistant Caucus Chair – Lisa Subeck
- Caucus Secretary – Beth Meyers
- Caucus Sergeant at Arms – Kaylan Haywood
Senate Republican Leadership 2021-22
- Senate Majority Leader – Devin LeMahieu
- Senate President – Chris Kapenga
- Senate President Pro Tempore – Patrick Testin
- Senate Assistant Majority Leader – Dan Feyen
- Senate Caucus Chair – Van Wanggaard
- Senate Caucus Vice Chair – Kathy Bernier
Senate Democratic Leadership 2021-22
- Minority Leader – Janet Bewley
- Assistant Minority Leader – Janis Ringhand
- Caucus Chair – Jeff Smith
- Assistant Caucus Chair – Melissa Sargent
We are fortunate to be living in a time when most major diseases can be prevented by effective and safe vaccines. According to CDC and every medical professional organization, the United States has the safest vaccine supply in history. The stage is set for success, but it is our responsibility to take advantage of the scientific advances that have already been made by getting vaccinated now for those diseases that can be controlled. It is important to get as many people vaccinated for COVID-19 as possible so that we can get past this pandemic. We do this for ourselves and for each other.
- Vaccination of biohealth companies’ employees: the following is a sequence of events related to the COVID-19 vaccine distribution-
- December 8, 2020: BioForward proactively requested that Wisconsin’s biohealth industry be eligible for Phase 1b vaccinations since many of our companies should be designated as frontline workers in the fight against this pandemic due to our critical products and services related to the treatment, prevention and testing of COVID-19.
- January 14, 2021: BioForward responded to the State Disaster Medical Advisory Committee’s (SDMAC) recommendations for Phase 1b COVID Vaccination, which the recommendations excluded manufacturing that encompasses the biohealth industry. BioForward sent the SDMAC a comment letter and also made our companies aware they too could comment if they felt strongly about having our industry in Phase 1b.
- January 27, 2021. BioForward reached out to member companies after Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services finalized Phase 1b COVID vaccinations. The following category would apply to many Wisconsin biohealth companies:
- Health care critical supply chain functions, including the production, manufacturing, and distribution of vaccine
- Companies located in Dane County were able to register through this site: https://publichealthmdc.com/coronavirus/covid-19-vaccine
Biohealth Companies Allowed to Operate Under Wisconsin’s Safer at Home Order
The BioForward state advocacy program proactively engaged Governor Evers in order to support the needs of Wisconsin biohealth companies throughout the COVID-19 public health emergency. In mid-March, BioForward requested that Wisconsin biohealth companies be allowed to continue to work under any forthcoming stay-at-home order. On March 25, Wisconsin’s original “Safer-at-Home” order was released and it preserved Wisconsin biohealth, biotechnology, pharmaceutical, medical device, healthcare IT and related supply chain entities as “Healthcare and Public Health Operations,” allowing them to remain open during the term of the order.
BioForward Engaged in Proactive Vaccine Education of Wisconsin State Legislators
Throughout the summer and fall of 2020, BioForward and our members, Pfizer and Flugen, hosted video conference meetings with numerous state legislators in leadership roles to provide them with background on vaccine development and specific updates on the development of COVID-19 vaccine. These meetings were very well-received and have strengthened the understanding of vaccine science within the Capitol.
Written Vaccine Educational Communication. This fall, BioForward worked with UW Health, Children’s, Marshfield Children’s Hospital, WI Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Wisconsin Hospital Association to send written vaccine educational communications to every legislative office in September and October 2020. These memos are intended to build on trusted resource relationships within the Capitol in anticipation of vaccine distribution and access discussions that will inevitably take place in 2021, as COVID-19 vaccine becomes available. See 2021 COVID-19 Vaccines & Updates
Governor Ever’s Vaccine Proclamation
Governor Evers Task Force on Prescription Drug Pricing Concluded Work
The Governor’s Task Force on Reducing Prescription Drug Prices began its work in November 2019 and concluded its work at the end of August 2020. For most of 2020, the Task Force met virtually to develop a set of legislative recommendations aimed at reducing prescription drug prices in Wisconsin. These policy recommendations were sent to the 2021 legislature and some may be included in the Governor’s 2021-23 biennial budget bill.
We monitored each task force meeting, have reviewed the final report, and will advocate either in support or in opposition to these recommendations depending on how they are drafted. In 2021, the BioForward GA Committee will be reviewing any legislation based on these recommendations very carefully. The Task Force recommendations included:
- Capping the copay amount an insurer can charge for insulin;
- Increasing transparency in the pharmaceutical supply chain to help identify excessive profits and eliminate waste that harms consumers;
- Strengthening consumer protections and anti-trust enforcement of pharmaceutical companies;
- Advocating for federal action to end anti-competitive practices that drive prescription drug unaffordability;
- Creating a prescription drug purchasing entity to leverage the purchasing power of public sector employers in order to drive down the price of prescription drugs;
- Establishing a statewide repository for unused or discontinued prescription drugs to help provide needed medications for uninsured or under-insured Wisconsinites; and
- Ensuring that critical safety net providers and community health centers can continue benefitting from discounted drug programs to support patient wellness and community care activities.
Ensuring Safe and Efficient Transportation, Distribution and Administration of COVID-19 Vaccine in Wisconsin
Wisconsin developed a state vaccine priority distribution plan for the COVID-19 vaccines. BioForward worked with our Wisconsin providers to identify any legislative barriers to the safe and efficient distribution of vaccine within the State. This included reviewing whether statutory changes were needed to allow pharmacists and/or pharmacy students to administer the vaccine; ensuring that the vaccine is included on the State Immunization Registry; and ensuring that there are penalties in place for any deliberate interference or disruption of vaccine delivery. We will work with the legislature, as needed, to seek any changes that are required to support the delivery and administration of COVID-19 vaccine in Wisconsin.
Support for Liability Protection for Wisconsin Businesses and Universities
In the fall of 2020, Wisconsin legislators introduced legislation that would provide safe harbor protection for businesses, homeowners, and government entities such as schools or universities from COVID-19 litigation. LRB 6434/2, the legislation authored by Senator Kapenga and Representative Born, would create a safe harbor against lawsuits for those who are acting in good faith and working to protect against COVID-19 exposure at their locations – so long as they follow public health orders and take reasonable precautions to protect the public. This liability exemption does not protect bad actors who knowingly violate public health orders or act in a manner that is reckless, willful, or wanton. BioForward supports this legislation and expects it to be introduced early in the 2021 legislative session.
2020 November Election Summary
All 99 seats in the Wisconsin State Assembly were up for election on November 3rd. Going into election night, Assembly Republicans held a 63-34 majority (2 vacant seats) and sought a veto-proof super-majority. The Assembly Republicans retained the majority easily in Wisconsin, but the Assembly Democrats picked up two seats in the 13th and the 23rd, both Milwaukee suburbs. Democratic challenger Sara Rodriguez (D-Brookfield) defeated incumbent Republican Rep. Rob Hutton (R-Brookfield) in the 13th and Democratic challenger Deb Andraca (D-Whitefish Bay) beat incumbent Jim Ott (R- Mequon) in the 23rd. The Assembly Republicans will return in 2021 with a majority of 61-38.
The even-numbered half of the State Senate seats were up for reelection on November 3. The Senate Republicans held an 18-13 majority (2 vacant seats) heading into the election. The Senate Republicans maintained their majority but came one seat short of securing a super-majority of 22 seats. The Republicans picked up two seats. Eric Wimberger captured the seat of retiring Democratic Sen. Dave Hansen’s in the 30th (Green Bay) and current State Representative Rob Stafsholt (R-New Richmond) has won the 10th Senate District, currently held by Senator Patty Schachtner (D-Somerset). The Senate Republicans will start the 2021 session with a 20-12 majority. (There will be a special election for the Senate seat vacated by Scott Fitzgerald in SD-13).
2019—2021 State Biennial Budget and Legislative Priorities
Our 2019-2021 legislative agenda focused on economic development-based initiatives, workforce development, policies that promote innovation and improve patient access and outcomes, entrepreneurship, and protecting and supporting our exceptional research institutions.
STATE LEGISLATION 2019
Improving Patient Access and Outcomes
Step Therapy Protocols for Prescription Drug Coverage
Wisconsin Governor, Tony Evers, signed the 2019 Wisconsin Act 12, Wisconsin’s new Step Therapy legislation, on July 9, 2019. This legislation specifies the development and use of step therapy protocols for prescription drug coverage in Wisconsin and established parameters for exceptions to these protocols. Signed Into Law
Governor Evers’ Executive Order on Reducing Prescription Drug Prices
On August 21, 2019, Governor Evers issued Executive Order #39, creating a Task Force on Reducing Prescription Drug Prices in Wisconsin. This Task Force met monthly throughout 2020 and will present a report and recommendations for legislation to the Legislature in 2021. Ongoing Executive Action
Variety of Patient Access Bills that BioForward has been monitoring
There are several bills and proposed legislation that BioForward and its Government Affairs Committee have tracked. These range from PBM transparency to vaccine bills to reimbursement of cancer trial costs to biennial budget proposals. Pending Legislation
Repeal of Wisconsin’s Personal Property Tax
The 2017-19 biennial budget bill included a partial repeal of Wisconsin’s personal property tax for “machinery, tools, and patterns.” 2019 Assembly Bill 288 and Senate Bill 257 would provide a complete repeal of Wisconsin’s personal property tax. This small business tax reform legislation is supported by a large number of businesses from across the state. Bills Pending
Protecting & Supporting Wisconsin’s Research Institutions
More Efficient UW Research Contract Review
Governor Evers signed 2019 Wisconsin Act 36, which changes the review period for research contracts involving the University of Wisconsin System. Signed into Law
Oppose Restrictions on Biomedical Research
Over the last several state legislative session, BioForward and its partners in the Cures for Tomorrow Coalition have worked together to prevent legislation from passing that would restrict the types of cells used for research in Wisconsin. Bills Pending
Economic Development Priorities
Wisconsin Workforce and Innovation Network for Success (WWINS)
WWINS legislation would transform Wisconsin’s economic development programs by creating an Innovation Fund and Council charged with engaging the private sector with solving issues of statewide concern. Future 2021 Biennial Budget Initiative
BioForward-UW Health-UW Madison School of Medicine and Public Health-Cancer Action Network
On September 25th, the BioForward-UW Health-UW Madison School of Medicine and Public Health-Cancer Action Network hosted a special event- Research in Your Backyard: Pediatric Cancer Treatments and Emerging Therapies in Wisconsin. BioForward and our partners recognized the importance of educating our legislators and their staff on the amazing research and advanced disease treatments we have in Wisconsin.
STATE LEGISLATION 2018
Economic Development Priorities
Support Cluster-based Economic Development Legislation-The WINS Act
BioForward worked on bipartisan legislation with industries from across Wisconsin business sectors, such as water, food & beverage, energy, to develop legislation that would provide a continuing source of economic development funding. This legislation was known as the Wisconsin Workforce and Innovation Network for Success (WINS) Act, or 2017 SB 525, as amended by SSA 1. Simply stated, this legislation would:
- Create an evergreen fund by allocating 95% of the withholding taxes within Wisconsin’s industry clusters allocable to each new job created in our clusters annually. The annual contribution is capped at $50 million total and the funding ceases entirely once the fund reaches $500 million.
- Provide grants to support private sector industry groups across Wisconsin that are looking to help their member companies grow their industry cluster by providing start-up support, rapid prototyping and pilot testing of new products and services, partnering with educational institutions for industry-specific research and skills training, etc.
- Award challenge grants to companies that are developing new technological solutions to current problems facing the state and nation, creating innovative product development through competition
- Support expanding upon an already successful Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) matching grant program, SBIR Advance, to help further launch exciting new technologies and companies providing them with much-needed early-stage financing.
- Distribute the above grants and payments from the fund only from the fund earnings, thereby preserving an evergreen fund for continued investment.
Data Collection on Job Sector Growth for Wisconsin
During the course of the development of the WINS Legislation listed above, we discovered that the State of Wisconsin does not collect any data on which industry sectors are growing (i.e. which sectors are hiring NEW employees). While we believe that the entire WINS Act would be a valuable economic development budget initiative, at a minimum, including a provision in the 2019 biennial budget that requires the state to collect data on industry sector growth would be essential first step to identifying and capitalizing on those sectors of our state economy that are driving the most economic impact to the state.
Workforce Development Initiatives
Support New Wisconsin Worker Signing Bonus—Income Tax Exemption
We propose that the State of Wisconsin allow a one-time income tax exemption for any signing bonus provided to a new employee who moves to Wisconsin to work in the biohealth sector. This would be limited to the signing bonus only; limited to new hires only; limited to workers who move into Wisconsin for the position. Importantly, this is a tax benefit to the individual worker, not the company offering the bonus.
Improving Patient Access and Outcomes
Support Step Therapy Protocols for Prescription Drug Coverage under Health Benefit Plans
Wisconsin Governor, Tony Evers (D), signed 2019 Wisconsin Act 12 (https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2019/related/acts/12.pdf), Wisconsin’s new Step Therapy legislation, on July 9, 2019. This legislation, which went into effect on January 1, 2020, not only specifies the development and use of step therapy protocols for prescription drug coverage in Wisconsin, but it also establishes parameters for exceptions to these protocols.
Protecting and Supporting Wisconsin’s Research Institutions
Oppose Restrictions on Biomedical Research
Over the past several sessions, BioForward and our partners in the Cures for Tomorrow Coalition have battled against legislative initiatives that would restrict the types of cells and tissues that our researchers can use to conduct life-saving research in the State of Wisconsin. BioForward opposed any legislative initiatives in the 2019 biennial budget bill, or elsewhere, that would restrict biomedical research in the State of Wisconsin.
Support Legislation that Stimulates Research, Entrepreneurship and Jobs
The UW-Madison sought an amendment to Wisconsin’s restrictive self-dealing law that included an overly cumbersome and lengthy process for allowing research companies to contract with the university when a faculty or staff member had an interest in the company. In 2018, AB 758 / SB 671 authored by Rep. Dave Murphy and Senator Dan Feyen, along with Senators Risser and Rep. Berceau, promoted a more workable system within the UW for development of management plans that would identify and manage any potential conflicts of interest. This legislation was signed into effect on November 21, 2019. https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2019/proposals/reg/asm/bill/ab38
Provide Capacity Building to UW-Madison in Support of Developing a Talent Pipeline in Data Science, Nursing, Entrepreneurship and Engineering
College of Letters & Science: Computer and Data Science. BioForward supported UW-Madison’s request for $2.5 million/year for additional faculty, staff, advisors, and support services would permit another 800 to 1000 students to major in Computer and Data Sciences in the 2019-21 biennial budget bill.
School of Business. BioForward supported UW-Madison’s request for $2 million/year for additional faculty, staff, and support services that would grow enrollment by 300 students and expand entrepreneurship courses in the 2019-21 biennial budget bill.
School of Nursing. BioForward supported UW-Madison’s request for $1.2 million annually to increase number of faculty and instructional staff, and essential technological replacements to allow the School of Nursing to admit more approx. 40 additional undergraduate students in the 2019-21 biennial budget bill.
College of Engineering. BioForward supported UW-Madison’s request for $3 million/year to focus on workforce development, talent retention, and entrepreneurship and innovation.
School of Veterinary Medicine. BioForward supported UW-Madison’s 2019-21 biennial budget request for bonding authority to renovate the School of Veterinary Medicine.
A key-value we bring our members is to advocate not only on a state level but on federal issues that affect Wisconsin’s biohealth industry and research institutions. We have strategic collaborations with partners such as Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of American (PhRMA), and the Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed) who serve to advance legislative policies having the greatest impact on Wisconsin’s biohealth ecosystem.
- Support: Endless Frontier Act- A bill to establish a new Directorate for Technology in the redesignated National Science and Technology Foundation, to establish a regional technology hub program, to require a strategy and report on economic security, science, research, and innovation, and for other purposes. Congressman Gallagher (GB) co-sponsor of house bill
Investing into expansion of COVID testing, therapeutics and vaccines
- Support: President’s Biden plan to expand COVID-19 testing capabilities as outlined in his national strategy: https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/National-Strategy-for-the-COVID-19-Response-and-Pandemic-Preparedness.pdf
Protecting and Expanding Patient Access to Treatments
- Educating on precision medicine that allows doctors to find a person’s unique disease risks and treatments that will work best for each individual. Includes expanding biomarker and genetic testing, gene editing, and gene and cell therapies
- Oppose: CY22 Part D Payment Modernization Model RFA. Concerned that these policies can have significant impacts on patient access to new and novel treatments.
Protecting Intellectual Property Rights
- Support: Defending the University & Small Business Patent Proclamations Act, better known as Bayh-Dole Act: https://bayhdole40.org/about/#members
- Educating on industry’s vaccine response to the pandemic
Lowering Regulatory Burdens for Small Biotech Companies
- The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) adopted regulatory changes to provide small public companies with a temporary exemption from Sarbanes-Oxley 404(b) compliance.
Protecting and Expanding Patient Access to Treatments
- Oppose: Importing foreign price controls in Medicare would be detrimental to patients and America’s scientists and researchers who are trying to develop new cures and treatments. Foreign price controls would stifle investment and research into tomorrow’s cures and would lead to a 90% reduction in medicines developed by small U.S. biotech companies.
- Of the 74 cancer drugs launched between 2011 and 2018, 95% are available in the United States. Compare this with 74% in the United Kingdom, 49% in Japan, and 8% in Greece. o Nearly 90% of all new medicines launched since 2011 are available in the U.S., compared to just 50% in France, 48% in Switzerland, and 46% in Canada.
- Support: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) proposed rule on Medicare Coverage of Innovative Technology (MCIT) Support a more streamlined approach to Medicare coverage of innovative medical devices and diagnostics that improve health outcomes for patients with debilitating or life-threatening illnesses.
- Support: Ensuring that America’s seniors have timely access to multi-cancer early detection. Early detection and diagnosis of cancer saves lives, costs less to treat, and improves quality of life. Yet routine cancer screenings exist for only five cancers: colorectal, breast, prostate, cervical, and high-risk lung cancer. Barriers to Medicare coverage should be removed to cover multi-cancer early detection tests soon after approval by the FDA.
- Madison and Dane County Quick Links: https://publichealthmdc.com/ Learning who is eligible for vaccinations, registering companies for vaccinations, etc.
- Wisconsin Department of Health Services. Information on vaccines, testing, contact testing, COVID data, etc. https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/vaccine-about.htm
- BIO’s https://www.covidvaccinefacts.org/
Federal Policy Advocacy
Tax and Fiscal Policies
Repeal of the Medical Device Tax- 2019
A bipartisan bill was signed into law on December 20, 2019, as part of the federal spending package that eliminates the medical device tax. Major support for this repeal came from Representative Ron Kind of Wisconsin’s Third District. Medical device companies have created more than 11,500 direct jobs in Wisconsin, and this sector has a major impact on Wisconsin’s statewide supply chain. Legislation Signed into Law
Medical Excise Tax- 2018
Repealing the Medical Device Excise Tax has been one of BioForward’s top priorities. The Wisconsin delegation has been supportive of this call to action with Senator Ron Johnson and Congressmen Ron Kind, Sean Duffy, Jim Sensenbrenner, and Glenn Grothman all helping lead the effort to repeal the tax.
Gene Editing/Gene Therapy- Human Gene Editing- 2019
Human genome editing is a process by which a DNA sequence is modified to elicit a desired outcome within a living cell. Though DNA modification techniques have existed for decades, recent advances in genome editing technology have provided scientists and researchers with far more precise and efficient genome editing tools. Wisconsin has several biohealth companies focused in this area, as well as our major research institutions. As scientific developments progress, we support continued discussion with key stakeholders to define regulations and which conditions that the status quo should be changed. No pending legislation
Stronger Patents Act- 2019
The STRONGER Patents Act will bring important fixes to the patent system that prevent abuse, protect legitimate patent rights, and improve our patent examination process. Investment in innovation requires stronger patent rights. Pending bi-partisan legislation
Intellectual Property- 2018
BioForward commends the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) rule change that went into effect late 2018 that significantly improved the fairness of post-issuance patent challenge proceedings, such as Inter Partes Review (IPR), for patent owner. The action by the PTO will help ensure that patent claims are construed consistently, whether they are reviewed by the PTO, a federal court, or the International Trade Commission. In its final rule, the PTO decided to apply the rule change only prospectively to all patents filed after November 13, 2018.
Strengthening Healthcare System
Maintaining Patient Access to Therapies- 2019
BioForward supports our national partners, the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) and Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), in urging federal policymakers to adopt responsible solutions that would make prescription drugs more affordable for American’s patients. We oppose legislation such as H.R. 3 Drug Price Negotiation Bill that has many aspects to the legislation that would have disastrous effects on small and emerging biotech companies, and patients would have fewer cures in the future.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is responsible for research in the study of human health, diagnostics, and treatments and helps to maintain the U.S. stronghold as a national leader in the development of biomedical research. As the cost of medical product development process continues to increase, the funding for this research through the NIH must increase to ensure there isn’t a lag between research development and product development. BioForward continues to advocate for increased funding of the NIH, which will help advance biomedical innovation and ultimately improve patient care.
- We are opposed to any efforts to reduce funding for science and medical research
- We are opposed to restrictions that would further impede the use of federal funding for fetal tissue research
Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Grant Funding: As venture capital monies decreased through the recession and moved to support later-stage technologies, these grants have helped to spur new research and discovery at its earliest stages. BioForward advocates for increased funding for the Small Business Administration to support the SBIR and STTR grant program to encourage new medical innovations.
BioForward is proud to share the results of the Wisconsin Biohealth: Industry Landscape and Economic Impact Report which highlights the statewide biohealth industry as a leading economic growth and innovation driver for Wisconsin.
Wisconsin’s biohealth industry represents a leading economic growth and innovation driver for the state, generating significant economic impacts and outperforming most major state industries in terms of job growth and wages.
According to the report, prepared by TEConomy Partners, LLC, a global leader in research, analysis, and strategy for innovation-based economic development, Wisconsin’s biohealth industry is outperforming most major state industries in terms of job growth and wages. Among the highlights within the third-party report are:
Economic Impact: The total state economic impact contribution by the biohealth industry is $28.8 billion in direct, indirect, and induced sources, as well as $1 billion in state and local taxes.
Jobs: Wisconsin’s biohealth research organizations, manufacturers, digital health, and distribution companies directly employ more than 46,000 individuals and have seen 8% job growth since 2015, outpacing the state’s overall job growth of 3%. This employment supports more than 72,000 additional jobs, leading to the full biohealth job impact reaching nearly 119,000 jobs throughout the State of Wisconsin.
Wages: The high-quality jobs generated across the biohealth industry pay more than $87,000 on average (79% above the overall industry average in Wisconsin) reflecting the high value-adding activities and skilled workforce deployed across scientific research and development, manufacturing, sales, distribution, and other key roles.
Funding: Wisconsin-based institutions and organizations received almost $500 million in National Institutes of Health funding in 2019 (an increase of 22% since 2015). Additionally, venture capital and angel investments in Wisconsin’s biohealth industries totaled $517 million during the 2015-19 period, which was invested into 104 state companies. Also, Wisconsin biohealth companies received a combined 131 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) awards totaling $71 million between 2015-2019.
Emerging Growth Companies
- Qualified New Business Venture Certification-Investor tax credit program
- Technology Development Loan Program
- SBIR/STTR Matching Grant Program
- Multiple tax credit, loan, and certified sites programs:
Find Your Legislators & Legislative Committees
BioForward periodically sends out legislative alerts asking members to contact their senators or representatives on issues of importance to the biohealth industry. You can find them on the map or via these links.