States Poaching Biotech Companies

In the Boston Globe there have been a couple of articles and an ad that pointed out the challenges states have in promoting and keeping productive and growing companies in their states.

In today’s paper there is an article about how the Governor of Massachusetts  is going to the West Coast to “to network with executives at computer and energy companies that have large facilities here, aiming to shore up and even expand their employment and investments in Massachusetts.”  While this is presumably a very good thing for Massachusetts, it raises two thoughts:

  • When I moved to Massachusetts in 2002 people were talking about how the state had lost its lead in the computer industry in the 1970s and 80s to California
  • The article doesn’t mention biotechnology, life sciences or healthcare – industries where Massachusetts still has a leadership position

This second point is particularly important because Saturday’s Globe had an article about how state regulations scheduled to take effect July 1st requiring disclosure of industry payments to physicians may cut down on medical meetings in Boston.  While that is speculative, it could undermine one of the state’s major “industry’s,” i.e. academic medical conferences.  In addition, in today’s Globe, the New York Biotechnology Association took out a 3/4 page ad on page A5 that is clearly referencing these regulations.  The substantive text of the ad is:

Worried that government red tape is getting too much in the way of your life sciences work?

The solution is just across the border.

In New York.

In New York, you can run fundamental scientific practices without disclosing your confidential trade secrets to your competitors… or government bureaucrats. [emphasis added]

Like Massachusetts, New York has world-class hospitals, universities, research facilities and healthcare professionals.

It offers the perfect setting for advanced biomedical research.

In New York, you can conduct clinical trials where your royalty and licensing agreements are protected… and provide continuing medical education programs essential for life sciences professionals. [emphasis added]

In New York, government won’t get in your way.

It will be in your corner.

While the NY Biotech Association’s ad may be mostly saber rattling and fear mongering, healthcare, life sciences and biotechnology are very important industries for Massachusetts, and I hope that the state keeps them as priorities in their economic development agenda.  It would be too bad if just as the state is making dramatic progress toward universal insurance coverage – and hopefully taking productive steps towards containing the cost of healthcare – it looses out on maintaining its leadership in these industries which will be creating long term advancements in healthcare quality.

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