Making the case for small and emerging biotechs

July 29, 2020
With so much talk in the news about “big pharma,” it’s important to remember the small companies driving innovation in our industry. So, today, we’re dedicating our issue to the small and emerging biotechs researching solutions for COVID-19 and other global challenges…

With so much talk in the news about “big pharma,” it’s important to remember the small companies driving innovation in our industry. So, today, we’re dedicating our issue to the small and emerging biotechs researching solutions for COVID-19 and other global challenges—and what the government needs to do to support them. Here are 725 words, around 3 and a half minutes.

Making the case for small and emerging biotechs

As Congress and the White House have been negotiating the next coronavirus stimulus package, BIO’s been working hard to ensure small and emerging biotech companies can continue researching and developing the science the world needs to solve our economic, health, and environmental challenges.

The biotech industry is working hard to get us out of this crisis. To date, there are 661 coronavirus-related drug programs in development—and 214 are already in human trials. (You can learn about them at BIO’s COVID-19 pipeline tracker.)

And small biotechs are critically important, with 70% of these programs being developed by small companies—with some of the most promising progress being made by pre-revenue companies that haven’t taken a drug to market (yet).

We’ve recently had some wins for small companies—such as changes to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rules temporarily exempting small public companies from a burdensome financial reporting requirement, which ultimately forced some small biotechs to choose between funding new research, or spending a lot of money to file paperwork with the SEC. 

As Congress has worked to stabilize the economy, BIO has pushed to ensure our companies, especially the small and emerging biotechs working on COVID-19, can take advantage of the Payroll Protection Program and not be precluded from critical payroll tax deferral.

We continue to stress to lawmakers the importance of proposals (like those in the recent House GOP tax package) that would allow startups to immediately utilize their net operating losses (NOLs) and R&D tax credits.   

For startups that have gone public in the last five years, the filing status as an Emerging Growth Company (EGC) provides much-needed reduced regulatory compliance and costs. We’re also urging a pause for all EGC companies set to lose this status this year, and we’re making the case on Capitol Hill.   

Watch BIO President and CEO Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath talk about this issue and why it matters:


The bottom line: Many small biopharmas with little to no revenue (yet) are working on the frontlines of the pandemic. They need every dollar they can get to fund R&D on vaccines and treatments for COVID-19—not to mention cures for other deadly diseases and solutions to heal, feed, and fuel the world.

BIO's advocacy work is always shaped by our members. And we need everyone at the table. If you are a BIO member, consider joining a policy committee. If your company is not yet a member, learn more and consider joining today.

More Health Care News: 

ACS CAN: Efforts to reduce drug prices must balance affordability with access to innovation and safety
“While we acknowledge the administration’s attempt to further examine new ways to tackle prescription drug costs, this must be done in a manner which balances affordability with access to innovation and maintaining safety,” said the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network (CAN). 

Biopharma Dive: BioNTech, Pfizer pick a surprise coronavirus vaccine, follow Moderna into late-stage test
“The two companies claim the version they chose for Phase 3 study was better tolerated than the one they advanced first, and potentially more effective in protecting older people at higher risk of COVID-19.” 

The New York Times: Long-sought blood test for Alzheimer’s in reach
“A newly developed blood test for Alzheimer’s has diagnosed the disease as accurately as methods that are far more expensive or invasive, scientists reported on Tuesday, a significant step toward a longtime goal for patients, doctors, and dementia researchers. The test has the potential to make diagnosis simpler, more affordable, and widely available.”


Agriculture and Environment News: 

CleanTechnica: Seaweed to the rescue, from renewable energy to COVID-19 treatment
“If…COVID-19 helps stimulate commercial seaweed farming beyond its current scale, the implications for biofuel could be significant.”

BIO Beltway Report

President Trump’s Wednesday: Heading to Texas to meet with supporters, then tour the Double Eagle Energy Oil Rig and give remarks on “restoring energy dominance.” Meanwhile, following what BioPharma Dive is calling Trump’s “high-stakes showdown” with the pharmaceutical industry, VP Pence is scheduled to tour NCBiotech in Research Triangle Park.

What’s Happening on Capitol Hill: The CEOs of Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook are set to testify in front of the House today. Meanwhile, we’ll be keeping an eye on a House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee hearing, Improving Access to Care: Legislation to Reauthorize Key Public Health Programs. Related, STAT News explains what we can expect from the next coronavirus aid package in terms of funding for public health initiatives, and Regulatory Focus looks at House appropriations for FDA.

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