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BIOCOM: Representing life-saving innovation in Southern California

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BIOCOM is the voice of the life sciences industry in Southern California. The companies it represents comprise one of the world's largest hubs of life-saving innovation that is a key economic engine for the region. Created 15 years ago, BIOCOM is now the world's largest regional trade association for the life sciences industry.

The organization helps attract funding and investment to the region, including the $5 million stimulus grant recently received to fund programs that BIOCOM's nonprofit BIOCOM Institute, San Diego State University and several partners have created to train, educate and place workers in the life sciences. BIOCOM was originally created so that collectively the life sciences had a voice on water issues in City Hall. The organization's advocacy efforts have since expanded to Sacramento and Washington, D.C., to ensure that laws and policy do not stifle the research saving lives around the globe.

Meanwhile, the BIOCOM Purchasing Group helps BIOCOM members save more than $28 million in a typical year through negotiated discount prices from top-tier vendors.

"BIOCOM offers the essential elements of support that life science companies need in these challenging times, from a strong presence in Washington, D.C., to informative events that help educate the work force and share best practices across member companies," said Daniel M. Bradbury, president and CEO of Amylin Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: AMLN). Bradbury is also the new chairman of BIOCOM's board of directors.

Every day more than 100,000 people in Southern California go to work and strive to change lives through innovation at one of the more than 1,800 companies that form the region's life sciences cluster. These workers are part of the most vibrant ecosystem of therapeutic, medical device, diagnostic and biofuel companies in the world. The region is home to all facets of medical technology and clean and green innovation, from research institutes and universities on Torrey Pines Mesa, to the Orange County medical device companies treating ophthalmologic and cardiac diseases, to the service providers that give the companies the tools they need to be successful.

Through BIOCOM, the organization's more than 550 member companies have a stronger, unified voice in matters of public policy, work force development, capital development and purchasing. The organization's communications efforts use social media, an electronic newsletter, a quarterly magazine and weekly news videos to keep members connected. BIOCOM also works with local, national and industry news organizations to promote and stimulate dialogue about the industry. And BIOCOM is the life science industry's premier partner in networking, hosting more than 75 events a year, from CEO receptions to the annual DeviceFest Conference.

As health care reform wound its way through Congress last year, BIOCOM staff and executives from member companies were in Washington, D.C., to meet with elected officials, their staffs and policy makers. During these trips, the life science leaders pressed for data exclusivity on biosimilars and increased and steady funding for the scientific research. BIOCOM also advocated for specific tax policies benefiting small businesses, and it showed members of Congress how a medical device tax would hurt innovation.

"As an organization, BIOCOM is unique because its members are very passionate and willing to take the time to stand side-by-side with us in Washington, D.C., and Sacramento to advocate for the industry," said BIOCOM President and CEO Joe Panetta. "Not only is the science and products important, the life sciences industry is also a crucial part of the region's economy."

According to the National Institutes of Health, which last year invested almost $1 billion in the region's life sciences through grants, each dollar of investment in the industry generates more than $2 of revenue in the local economy.

Randy Woods, CEO of Sequel Pharmaceuticals, is one of the members who have made the trip to Washington, D.C.

"It really makes a difference that BIOCOM is bringing CEOs to meet with the members of Congress, because we are telling the story we live every day," Woods said. "By partnering with other national and state industry organizations, we leverage our influence with theirs to represent BIOCOM and its members."

BIOCOM's work in Sacramento has helped legislators there grasp how the life science industry improves the lives of people with disease.

"When we had secured FDA approval for our product and were very close to launch, we encountered a bureaucratic logjam at the state," said Donna Janson, CEO of Novalar, which makes Oraverse, a drug that reverses the effects of local anesthesia used in dental procedures. "BIOCOM put me in direct contact with a state official who was able to resolve the issue within 36 hours."

Because of BIOCOM's work, member companies can concentrate on the important and time-consuming aspects of their individual businesses. "BIOCOM is an important organization in the Southern California life sciences industry because it encourages members to join forces to tackle issues and advance initiatives that will ultimately provide more highly paid jobs in the region," said Julie DeMeules, senior vice president of human resources at Santarus (Nasdaq: SNTS). "And these are jobs that involve developing, supporting and delivering products that save lives and improve quality of life for patients around the world."

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