BioFlorida advocates on behalf of its members and the industry.
2014 STATUTORY PRIORITIES:
Promote State Biotechnology Competitiveness – In order to make Florida more competitive with other states, BioFlorida supports the creation of tax incentives to attract more biotechnology companies to the state. BioFlorida supports increased funding to spur growth of Florida’s biotechnology industry and the continuation of programs already implemented in Florida like the Innovation Incentive Fund, State Economic Enhancement and Development Fund, Biomedical Research Trust Funds and the Institute for the Commercialization of Public Research. BioFlorida advocates for the continuation of these existing programs and for the expansion of the vibrant life science industry in Florida.
Maintain Current Funding from Cigarette Sales Surcharge
Support the continuation of the cigarette sales tax surcharge dollars to fund biomedical research. These funds help stimulate the growth of new companies and current institutions in our industry by providing resources available from Florida Department of Health (DOH) grant opportunities. Florida receives approximately $900 million per year from this source alone and BioFlorida advocates for the continued use of these funds to support research and development in our industries. Funding for these research programs was continued and increased by $60 million to support NCI designated facilities in Florida. This is the largest increase in funding post-recession.
Support Legislation Regarding Alzheimer’s Research and Care
HB 709 would create the Ed & Ethel Moore Alzheimer’s Disease Research Program within the Florida Department of Health. The purpose of this program is to fund new Alzheimer’s disease research and take steps to ensure proper care for Alzheimer’s patients. HB 709 would create a program to help pay for research through a peer-review process aimed at preventing or curing the disease. Additionally, the bill would require "special needs shelters” used during natural disasters are prepared to serve people with Alzheimer’s and would develop minimum performance standards for memory-disorder clinics throughout the State of Florida. HB 709 is the first step toward making Florida a leader in Alzheimer’s research and care. HB 709 successfully passed both chambers and received $3 million in funding in the 2014-2015 FY Budget. BioFlorida was also instrumental in including additional researchers to the oversight panel and supported this legislation during the entire 2014 Legislative Session.
Support State Tax Reductions
The recently announced budget surplus for the 2014-2015 FY has led Governor Scott and legislative leaders to call for a reduction of certain business taxes and state fees. BioFlorida will monitor these tax and fee reduction proposals to assess their impact on the life science industry and encourages our members to provide feedback to Governor Scott and legislative leaders on ideas for these proposals.
HB 11/SB 176 are examples of important tax reductions for the biotech and life science industries. BioFlorida supports HB 11/SB 176 providing for the incremental reduction of taxes imposed on rental fees charged for the use of commercial property. In addition, Governor Scott recently released a $100 million budget recommendation that would be used to start the tax reduction for these purposes. The savings by member-companies, both large and small, will be very important to further advance the biotech and life science industries in Florida. This legislation did not pass this year. BioFlorida continues to advocate for smart tax policy that will further spur the growth of the life sciences.
Support Voluntary Drug Take-Back Programs
Support efforts at the state level to ensure voluntary drug take-back programs. These programs protect public health and the environment and recognize partnerships with the growing bioscience industry. Prescription drugs that languish in home medicine cabinets are highly susceptible to diversion, misuse, and abuse. The rate of prescription drug abuse has become alarmingly high and these drug take-back programs provide a necessary method for individuals to properly and safely dispose of controlled substances. Since the inception of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) led voluntary drug-take back program in 2010, there have been 7 National Prescription Drug Take-Back Days with approximately 3.4 million pounds of medication being removed from circulation. BioFlorida supports any efforts to encourage Florida to provide opportunities for citizens to properly dispose of any prescription drugs that are no longer needed or are outdated. BioFlorida successfully advocated that drug take-back programs remain voluntary. These programs are important to properly dispose of outdated or unnecessary medications, but government over-regulation of this activity is unwarranted.
- Oppose Unintended Expansion of 340B Drug Pricing Ensure that any efforts to expand 340B drug pricing at the state level are consistent with the intended goals of the program and do not inadvertently stifle innovation within the bioscience industry. In 1992, Congress created the 340B program to help uninsured indigent patients gain better access to prescription medicines. In order to achieve that goal, Congress required pharmaceutical manufacturers to provide discounts to clinics or hospitals serving high numbers of uninsured indigent patients. BioFloirida advocates that policymakers ensure the 340B program meets its stated purpose – helping uninsured indigent patients gain access to prescription medicines. In order to properly do so, we request:
- Adequate funding for the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA),
- Improved transparency to advance the program’s goals and ensure appropriate use of program resources,
- Formal notice and comment rulemaking under the Administrative Procedures Act, and a
- Clearer definition of the term "patient” following the increased coverage of prescription medicines by commercial insurance companies and coverage of uninsured persons through the Affordable Care Act and Medicare Part D.
BioFlorida successfully opposed any unnecessary or unintentional expansion of the 340B program. BioFlorida believes that the unnecessary expansion of this program will stifle research and development and inhibit discovery of new and innovative cures. BioFlorida supports the intent of the 340B program and continues to look for additional, affordable treatments and cures.
Support Patient Access to Medicine
Support HB 1001 by Rep. Jason Brodeur (R-Sanford) and SB 1354 by Sen. Denise Grimsley (R-Sebring) which allow for physicians to immediately provide treatments or medications believed to be better treatments instead of having patients needlessly suffer through ineffective treatments or "fail first/step therapy” protocols. Currently, Florida’s Medicaid program and a number of health plans force patients to try and fail on several different, cheaper, and often ineffective medications before agreeing to cover treatments that physicians may originally prescribe. HB 1001/SB 1354 will allow patients to receive the recommended courses of therapy without waiting for an override of any protocols that are currently used in Florida. HB 1001/SB 1354 would make available revolutionary medicines and scientific breakthroughs to patients and ensure timely access to care preferred by physicians. This legislation, strongly supported by the Florida Senate, was ultimately unsuccessful. Proposals, similar to HB 1001/SB 1354, advancing patient access to medicine remained a high-profile issue until the final moments of the 2014 Legislative Session. We are likely to see this legislation return.
Fund and Support the Institute for the Commercialization of Public Research (Institute) – The Institute helps investors and entrepreneurs identify new investment opportunities based on technologies developed through publicly-funded research. The Institute oversees two programs that offer funding opportunities to qualified companies. BioFlorida advocates for the continuation and expansion of the Institute’s funding programs. The Institute received $5.5 million in the 2014-2015 FY Budget. This funding, which included $1.5 million in operational funds and $4 million in SEED funds, is important to the continued growth of the Institute and helps to bolster Florida’s life science industry.
Fund Basic Research Programs – BioFlorida encourages the preservation and funding of Florida’s Centers of Excellence at our state research universities; James and Esther King Biomedical Research Program and Bill Bankhead and David Coley Biomedical Research Program. In 2013, the Legislature appropriated $49,750,000 for biomedical research related trust funds and institutes; this was an increase of more than $15 million of directed dollars to biomedical research. BioFlorida members request that the State of Florida make a goal to direct 10% of the $900 million Cigarette Sales Surcharge to biomedical research. These funds will be used for competitive grants administered by the Florida Department of Health for biomedical and cancer research programs. BioFlorida advocated on behalf of basic research programs supported by the State of Florida. These funds were increased by more than $40 million from prior year funding. The King and Coley Trust Funds were each funded at $10 million, matching state support from FY 2013-2014.
Fund the Innovation Incentive Fund – BioFlorida supports the continuation and expansion of funding for the Florida Innovation Incentive Fund, which provides opportunities for the state to grow its biotechnology industry by investing in large-scale biotechnology and life sciences projects. Scripps, Torrey Pines, Max Planck, and Sanford-Burnham are all recipients of state funding, either specifically through the Innovation Incentive Fund or some similar funding method. In 2013, the Legislature appropriated a total of $71 million for a larger fund, which included the Innovation Incentive Fund. BioFlorida asks that the Innovation Incentive Fund return to a stand-alone fund to focus on large-scale, industry-advancing initiatives. Unfortunately, the Innovation Incentive Fund was not funding as a stand-alone fund; however, the Florida Legislature again appropriated $71 million for a larger fund which includes the Innovation Incentive Fund. BioFlorida continues to work with legislators and Enterprise Florida, Inc. to advance the life sciences and discuss ways to advance Florida’s life science industry.