Legislative Republicans Take Pulse of California’s Growing Biotech Industry

GOP Lawmakers Say State Restrictions/Regulations are Stalling Job Growth and Innovation in Critical Healthcare Field
Wednesday, April 20, 2011

San Diego – Several California State Republican legislators Tuesday toured Takeda Pharmaceuticals and Gen-Probe, two biomedical research and manufacturing facilities, to learn firsthand about the opportunities and challenges facing the industry. California is the global leader in the biomedical industry.  A multi-billion dollar contributor to the state’s economy, the biotech industry is coping with regulations and other obstacles that threaten to stifle funding, research and the field’s promise in providing jobs and revolutionizing healthcare.
Participating in Tuesday’s tour were Republican State Senators Joel Anderson (San Diego), Bob Huff (Diamond Bar), Tony Strickland (Thousand Oaks), Mimi Walters (Laguna Niguel) and Mark Wyland (Escondido) and Republican Assembly members Martin Garrick (Carlsbad) and Brian Jones (La Mesa).
Following the tours, the legislators also participated in a roundtable discussion with industry leaders. 
“I am pleased these Republican legislators sought out the opportunity to speak to life science industry leaders in San Diego.  I believe both parties finally realize we must keep California globally competitive, and the only way we will do that is for legislators to be willing to talk to those on the ground who face the challenges of operating businesses in California every day,” said roundtable participant, Joe Panetta, BIOCOM president and CEO.
“What we heard is that California’s life science innovation machine has stalled,” Sen. Strickland said. “For the first time in almost 20 years, statewide biomedical employment has fallen. State leaders need to step up and be innovative and figure out how to help the industry get back on track and thrive. Now.”
“The current economic, political and regulatory conditions in California threaten the ability of biotech to innovate and grow,” said Sen. Walters. “It’s vital we remove restrictions on manufacturing and streamline regulatory processes to encourage the industry to continue to invest and expand in our state.”
Although a relatively new field, the biotech industry contributes greatly to California’s economy and is considered a standard bearer in innovation, ingenuity and problem solving. Firms such as Takeda, Gen-Probe and over 2,200 other biotech firms in California provide the world with solutions to illness and disease, while also providing large numbers of Californians a meaningful, high-wage career.
“Biotech is a vital part of our state’s economy and California is home to two of three biotech industry centers in the United States,” said Sen. Huff. “Not only does the industry contribute taxes from an estimated $114 billion in annual revenue, but it employs over 267,000 Californians in high-quality jobs with average annual wages of $72,000.”
“This industry is an employment driver,” said Asm. Jones. “Why would we stand in the way of that? Particularly in this down economy we should be clearing a pathway for these companies to deliver more jobs and more scientific breakthroughs.”
Roundtable panel member Duane Roth, CEO and board member of CONNECT, a highly successful incubator in San Diego that links biomedical entrepreneurs and inventors with resources, emphasized that the legislature can facilitate growth of the industry by supporting programs providing access to life science education, mentoring and capital.
“California’s growing biotech industry provides good-paying jobs for the San Diego region,” said Asm. Garrick. “We must be fiercely competitive so that an industry defined by its contribution to saving lives remains leaders in a field that was born here.”
“The biotech and life sciences industries create thousands of jobs and drive economic growth for the San Diego region,” said Sen. Wyland. “After talking with industry leaders it is clear that these high-tech companies need a predictable tax and regulatory climate to warrant future investment. I will do everything I can to make sure these companies stay and prosper in California.”
“California is leading the charge in the biotech field due to our highly motivated, qualified work force. My colleagues and I met with biotech leaders today, because we all know we can still do better. Our state has the largest concentration of companies and products in the biopharmaceutical pipeline, but other states and countries are advancing rapidly,” Sen. Anderson noted. “Solutions that maintain California’s global leadership in this arena are important not just for our economy but for our families. We’re talking about life-saving technologies.”

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