BIO International 2024 to focus on partnerships amid new BIOSECURE bill

By Isabel Cameron

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images
© Getty Images

Related tags BIO biotech Biotech companies Clinical trials

As the BIO International 2024 trade show approaches, industry insiders anticipate a significant focus on partnership discussions, driven by the pressing financial needs of biotech companies rather than the new BIOSECURE act.

The event, coinciding with the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting, is expected to see robust activity in development and commercialization partnerships, particularly among oncology companies.

"BIO is primarily a partnering discussion," Ali Pashazadeh, CEO and co-founder of Treehill, told Bio Pharma Reporter. 

"With over 200 publicly listed biotech companies trading below cash value and over 300 'being stuck' ie needing significant capital to move forward, we expect BIO will be more focused on the day to day transactional needs of these companies."

The BIOSECURE Act, introduced in the House of Representatives in January 2024, aims to enhance security measures within the biotech sector. It also seeks to restrict federal government funding and partnerships with several Chinese companies that are considered threats to national security.

Limited current impact

However, its impact on the immediate discussions at BIO is expected to be minimal. "I don’t expect we will have many discussions on the BIOSECURE act," Pashazadeh noted. 

Instead, the focus will be on finding ways to sustain and enhance drug development amidst financial constraints.

Treehill itself will be attending the event in full force, aiming to engage with high-quality biotech companies. The firm's clinical development optimization model aims to save companies about 30% in drug development costs through optimal budget utilization and discipline.

"We believe our model can significantly reduce costs and help companies navigate their financial challenges," Pashazadeh added.

When asked about the challenges and opportunities the BIOSECURE act presents, Pashazadeh highlighted its current limited scope.

"The act is currently relatively narrow in terms of the purchaser. The real question arises if the act is amended to go beyond its current remit. Then, companies will need to find pathways to navigate the act," he explained.

Strong message and future implications

Despite its limited immediate impact, the BIOSECURE act has sent a strong and clear message to the industry about the importance of security.

"Almost every CEO we talk to has received the message that measures are being put in place to protect the industry. This means that when CEOs and boards choose vendors or suppliers, they will undoubtedly think twice about whom they use," Pashazadeh said. 

In terms of driving innovation in drug development and manufacturing, the Treehill CEO is skeptical about the act's potential impact.

"Innovation in biotech is currently being limited by the lack of liquidity," he noted.

Treehill aims to address this by not only fostering scientific and medical innovation but also by enhancing the robustness and cost-efficiency of clinical studies.

"I don’t think the act will have an impact on innovation, but it might push existing and new players to take on activities from manufacturers precluded from providing services," Pashazadeh added.

The effect of the BIOSECURE act on international collaboration and competition within the pharmaceutical industry also drew mixed reactions.

"Across industries, we are seeing protectionism plays, most notably in the automotive industry," Pashazadeh commented. 

However, he emphasized that the drug development industry is fundamentally different.

"Most of us have dedicated our lives to drug development and getting drugs to patients. The geographic location of the patient is not relevant when you look at it from a medical need perspective.

"Hence with albeit rose tinted glasses, I would hope that companies maintain their focus on addressing medical needs irrespective of global geopolitics. I am not naive to assume that people will not change their behaviour and make decisions based on this act and others to come."

Looking ahead, Pashazadeh advised pharmaceutical companies to familiarize themselves with the BIOSECURE act and anticipate potential amendments.

"This will be another factor in the multifactorial decision-making process current biotech CEOs are facing," he said.

While the act may not yet necessitate significant deviations from current strategies, staying informed and prepared will be crucial.

As BIO International 2024 approaches, the industry's attention will be firmly on sustaining partnerships and navigating financial challenges, with the BIOSECURE act casting a shadow of future implications.

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