Whatever their size, supporters pointed out, the legislation will lead to 683,000 new jobs over the next five years. The figure includes both “direct” positions employers in the industry are expected to create and “indirect” jobs generated outside the industry but attributable to its expansion. That averages out to 136,000 jobs a year.
That forecast is a rather rosy one given the performance of recent years. Between 2001 and 2008, the year of the Wall Street meltdown from which the economy has yet to recover, the bioscience industry added 193,748 jobs, according to reports released last year by the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) and Battelle. On the bright side, the industry’s 15.8% job growth rate was 4.5 times the overall growth rate for the entire U.S. private sector (3.5%).
In addition to speaking for the coalition, Jory is president of the Washington, D.C., government relations firm Capitol Hill Consulting Group, whose lobbying clients in recent years have included two pharma giants, Eli Lilly and Novartis. Neither is among members of the coalition listed on its website, though four biopharma companies are: Celgene, Cephalon, Endo Pharmaceuticals, and Johnson & Johnson. Medical device giant Boston Scientific is a member, as are bio and pharma groups in California, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Texas.
“This policy will assist in directing funds to the thriving network of research institutions, business incubators, and private companies that contribute to the innovation environment in Pennsylvania,” said Christopher P. Molineaux, president of Pennsylvania Bio, the state’s biotech industry group, in a statement.
U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) introduced the life science measure in the House of Representatives and has won co-sponsorship backing from seven colleagues. The eight divide evenly between the two major parties and include Reps. Jason Altmire (D-PA), Charles W. Dent (R-PA), Chaka Fattah (D-PA), Jim Gerlach (R-PA), Patrick Meehan (R-PA), Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-NJ), and Allyson Y. Schwartz (D-PA).
The presence of six Pennsylvania members of Congress isn’t coincidental since biopharma is an increasingly important industry in and around the Keystone State; biotech trade group Pennsylvania Bio and pharma trade group Healthcare Institute of New Jersey are among backers. Pennsylvania is also the home state of the measure’s Senate sponsor, Sen. Robert Casey (D), who unlike Nunes had yet to attract a co-sponsor at deadline.
The Congressional political divide that has stymied many bills that affect the life sciences doesn’t bode well for this legislation either. It’s possible that Congressional Democrats may try to advance this bill as part of the larger focus on jobs that they and President Obama have promised for this fall as his re-election effort prepares for what’s appearing to be a difficult campaign.
More likely, the effort to bring new tax incentives to the biotech industry will have to wait until the dust in Washington settles. And that won’t happen until at least next November, when the presidential election ends.