Microbiota, novel antibiotics, and of course drug pricing among BIO2016 takeaways

In In The News by Barbara Jacoby

By: Josh Bart

From: medcitynews.com

Thousands attended the BIO International Convention in San Francisco the past few days, drinking knowledge from a fire hose. Others followed virtually, checking their #BIO2016 feed, and other sources, between spreadsheets. Either way, the convention raised a lot of issues to chew on for the next few months.

As noted earlier, drug pricing was destined to be a major topic, both in conversation and at various sessions. Manufacturers and payers continue to duke it out. Payers are creating more restrictive pricing tiers and higher co-pays to manage their risk. Drug companies are trying to counter with more clinical evidence to justify costs. Lobbying and communication efforts are ongoing on both sides.

Which leads right into politics. Wednesday’s keynote panel featured former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and CNN mainstays Candy Crowley and Stephanie Cutter. As expected, they hedged their bets on who would win the presidential election, but did feel that Donald Trump might be better for biotech. They noted his strong support for patent rights and businesses generally, along with his eagerness to take on Chinese trade policy.

Another hot topic was women in the C-suite. LifeSci Advisors, who got slapped for bringing in scantily clad models to their JP Morgan party, showcased its new gender diversity efforts at BIO. A Thursday afternoon panel also weighed in on the issue.

There was no shortage of buzzworthy topics at the confab:

  • Antibiotic resistance is a huge threat to public health. How do we incentivize companies to develop next generation drugs?
  • We need to get a handle on big data to tackle population health, genomics and other issues.
  • When it comes to developing drugs and treating smaller populations, genomics is changing the game, but there is still a long way to go.
  • Microbiota may be an enormous resource for new therapeutics, but commercialization could be tricky.
  • The pros and cons of corporate venture capital.
  • New synthetic biology tools are evolving rapidly, making it easier to produce large amounts of synthetic DNA.
  • The Ebola and Zika crises may offer new opportunities to accelerate vaccine development.

So that about wraps it up BIO for 2016. Next year, the convention will stay in California, returning to San Diego, the site of the 2014 event, June 19 to 22. Biocom CEO Joe Panetta is ready to roll.

“We are looking forward to BIO returning to San Diego. Southern California has 1,100 life science companies, more than 80 research institutes and universities and is the worldwide headquarters for genomic research. BIO 2017 will be an exciting time.”