BioTech Seeks a Bailout of its Own

December 23rd, 2008 | Sources: NY Times

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The Great Economic Crisis of 2008 has blown the doors off every sector of the economy and the government has selectively bailed out insurers, bankers and auto makers, so no one can blame industry leaders in other sectors from giving it the old college try.

Take BioTech for example. The sector has been soundly thrashed, especially the little guys.  In fact BIO, a trade group reports that 33% of the 370 publicly traded US BioTech companies have less than 6 months’ cash on hand—twice as many as last year.

Whew, so last week BioTech executives had their day with Congress.

They proposed a deal: if you give us cash now, we won’t take our tax credits when we become profitable (when and if, they should say). And there’d be a cap, say $30 million, on the cash a single firm receives.

Ahem. How in the heck is Congress going to assess all that risk, or are are these people also proposing a built-in BioTech Czar?

Actually, it may be a good deal, but Congress has to weigh it against proposals from other sectors. And for all the bluster, BioTech is small. Only 200,000 people are at risk.

In its defense, CombinatoRx chief exec Alexis Borisy told the New York Times BioTech is “one of the few places where the US is the undisputed leader of the world.”

The plan has at least one ally in Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-Penna.) who wants to include the proposal in the Big O’s stimulus package. “Innovation and technology are growth areas for American businesses and American workers and should be part of this package,” she told the Times.

Schwartz’ district is home to several BioTech and Big Pharma offices.


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