2015 GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS PRIORITIES
Click here to download BioFlorida's 2015 Legislative Priorities.
Click here to download BioFlorida's 2015 Legislative Talking Points.
POLICY AND ADMINISTRATIVE PRIORITIES
- Support Efficiencies in State Contracting in the Life Sciences Arena – Agency outreach and communication to support streamlining metrics and deliverables on state contracts for research funding. BioFlorida advocates a standard for deliverables and accountability that makes sense for research. BioFlorida will create a workgroup to explore this issue and communicate findings to relevant government officials and staff. Strategic introductions provided dialogue between agencies and BioFlorida members, presentation by Department of Financial Services and the Department of Health at BioFlorida day.
- Promote Florida as a Destination for Clinical Trials – Develop and implement strategy to encourage clinical trials in Florida including education and incentives. Clinical trials improve research and treatments, benefit patients, and contribute to the economy. Florida has already acknowledged its support of clinical trials through the collaboration agreement between the state and health insurers for insurers to provide routine coverage and cover patient costs associated with Phase I through IV cancer clinical trials. Additionally, in 2014, the state allocated $50 million to support research that involves clinical trials at Florida Cancer Centers. Enterprise Florida was allocated $10 million in the budget to market Florida’s business brand.
- Advocate for Continued Legislative Support of Public-Private Partnerships – Support statutory changes to allow state universities and other research institutions to take advantage of public-private partnerships. Explore additional measures that will promote Florida’s growing and emerging life science industries. The 2015-16 budget provides approximately $203.1 million for Florida’s economic development public-private partnerships. In the signing of his budget transmittal letter, Governor Rick Scott highlighted his support for research that is done in conjunction with education institutions in the state.
- Promote State Biotechnology Competitiveness – In order to make Florida more competitive with other states, BioFlorida supports the infusion of funds and creation of tax incentives to attract more life sciences 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. Enterprise Florida was allocated $10 million in the budget to market Florida’s business brand.
- 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. Program funding continued for 2015-16.
- Support Legislation Regarding Alzheimer’s Research and Care: Encourage increased funding for the Ed & Ethel Moore Alzheimer’s Disease Research Program within the Florida Department of Health to make Florida a leader in Alzheimer’s research and care. Level-funded at $3 million for 2015-16.
- 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. The $400 million tax incentive package included tax credits for companies that engage in research and development in Florida as well as rate reductions on the state communications services tax. Additionally, the cap on applicants was removed so credits will be distributed on a pro rata basis rather than in the order the applications were received.
- Support Patient Access to Medicine: Support measures that increase access for Florida patients to prescription medications, including breakthrough medications, and support transparency in payor’s formulary process. The “Right Medicine, Right Time” act gained traction in the Senate with a strong grassroots involvement and improved messaging. However, the bill was never heard in the House, and did not pass. HB 269, the “Right to Try Act” passed and was signed into law. This bill establishes a framework in which a manufacturer may provide a post-phase 1 investigational drug, biological product, or device to an eligible patient with a terminal condition. Also, initial conversation with the Surgeon General regarding statewide clinical trials policy.
- Encourage investor funds in the life sciences: support measures that incentivize angel and venture capital funding. Enterprise Florida was allocated $10 million dollars to promote Florida’s business brand.
- Support marketing of Florida’s research and development: increase interaction and exposure of advances made in the state, and support continued economic development efforts centered on life sciences. The total amount of research and development tax incentives were increased from $9 million in 2015 to $23 million for 2016.
- 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. BioFlorida 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:
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.
- 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.
- 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 was appropriated $5.5 million to continue operations.
- 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 Cancer Research Program. In 2014, the Legislature appropriated approximately $93 million for biomedical research related trust funds and institutes. BioFlorida members request that the State of Florida make a goal to direct no less than 10% of the $900 million Cigarette Sales Surcharge to biomedical research. These funds will be used for competitive grants, such as the Florida Translational Research Program, administered by the Florida Department of Health for biomedical and cancer research programs. Additionally, these funds help support research and development at several Florida institutions, including: Moffitt Cancer Center, Shands, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Mayo Clinic.
Over $60 million was appropriated to several institutions to support cancer research and treatment.
- 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, VGTI Florida, SRI and Sanford-Burnham are all recipients of state funding, either specifically through the Innovation Incentive Fund or some similar funding method. In 2014, 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. The state’s economic development “toolkit” was funded at $43 million, including the Innovation Incentive Fund and other economic development programs.