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Biotech leaders assemble in Sacramento for annual life sciences day

Patient access, Medi-Cal reform, preserving the R&D tax credit, academic funding billed as top priorities

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California biotechnology industry representatives converged in Sacramento recently for the industry's annual California Life Sciences Day.

Executives, venture capitalists, leading researchers and industry advocates met with lawmakers and members of Gov. Schwarzenegger's staff to press for policies that will allow the world's leading biotechnology community to continue to grow and enhance its status as the global leader in biomedical development.

"We must work closely with state government to ensure that California's life sciences industry remains in the forefront of research, development and bringing new medicines and treatments to market," said David Gollaher, president and CEO of the California Healthcare Institute (CHI). "California Life Sciences Day is an opportunity for the state's biotechnology community to have a direct dialogue with policymakers on important issues such as ensuring that all Californians benefit from our products, that our business climate is hospitable to research, development and manufacturing, and that our educational institutions receive the funding they need for continued innovation and training the biotechnology work force. This industry is eager to continue cooperating with the state in maintaining and enhancing California's status as the global leader in life sciences."

With the passage of Proposition 71 in 2004, California voters made an unprecedented decision to invest their own tax dollars in the life sciences industry. Yet despite the public mandate supporting biomedical growth in California, counterproductive economic, tax and policy threats remain.

"We are here today in Sacramento to continue a longstanding dialogue with state government," said Joseph Panetta, president and CEO of Biocom, a life sciences association that represents 450 companies in San Diego and Southern California. "California's life science community leads the world in developing innovative new therapies and products. We would like to preserve the R&D tax credit which has helped so many of our companies keep their jobs and cutting-edge research here in the Golden State. Our industry provides a valuable growth engine for our economy and we want to make sure our companies have economic incentives to stay here."

California's leadership in biomedical innovation is deeply rooted in the state's academic life sciences research institutions. In 2005, the biomedical community sees an opportunity to work with policy makers in Sacramento to ensure that California's educational and research institutions have the resources they need to continue to produce a steady flow of discovery and train tomorrow's work force.

"California's life science industry remains the most productive in the world. It attracts more investment, draws on more competitive federal research dollars, generates more life-saving products and employs more residents than any other life science community in the world," said Matthew Gardner, president, BayBio. "It is critical that policy makers understand that California leadership is not a guarantee, that in fact, we must work with one another. Only in partnership can the state be a guarantor of our life science destiny."

The 2005 California Life Sciences Day was sponsored by Abbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT), Amgen (Nasdaq: AMGN), Berlex Inc., Edwards Lifesciences (NYSE: EW), Gen-Probe Inc. (Nasdaq: GPRO), Genentech (NYSE: DNA), Ligand Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: LGND), MedImmune (Nasdaq: MEDI), Merck (NYSE: MRK), Nasdaq, Novartis (NYSE: NVS), NVCA, Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) and Roche.

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