The industry watchdog in D.C.
President and CEO
Biotechnology Industry Organization
James Greenwood matters because he is the life sciences industry's watchdog, simply put. As president and CEO of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, the former Pennsylvania congressman is the biopharmaceutical industry's chief lobbyist in Washington. His experience and reputation gives him the ear of key congressmen and women as they mull legislation that could help, and hurt the industry.
Greenwood's status rose, however, because he accomplished one of the biopharmaceutical industry's biggest agenda items after it tried unsuccessfully for years--protection from biosimilars competition for 12 years. Companies are guaranteed market exclusivity for that period, in order to help recoup the money spent in the profoundly expensive process of bringing a biotechnology drug to market. And Greenwood was nothing if not persistent in getting there. In 2007, for example, the Democratic Congress hadn't even come close to what the industry wanted at that time. Greenwood spoke in clear, plain language to the Boston Globe about what was missing.
"We favor competition," he told the paper back then, "but we think that companies should be able to have 14 years of market exclusivity in order to recover their investments in R&D. If you look at the Waxman bill or the Clinton-Schumer bill, they're at zero and we're at 14 so that's a pretty big gulf."
In March 2010, the issue peaked when the U.S. House of Representatives basically signed off on a 12-year protection clause from biosimilars competition as part of the landmark health reform law, giving the industry infinitely more exclusivity than the 5-year protection supported by key Democrats like Henry Waxman or a 7-year limit favored by President Barack Obama. Greenwood framed the measure as being necessary to "speed discovery and development of the next-generation of breakthrough therapies and potential cures for the world's most debilitating diseases."
He has worked just as effectively with the current, politically-divided Congress. At the end of 2011, for example, BIO and venture groups successfully lobbied for the Small Business Innovation Research awards grant program to again allow majority-owned VC-based companies to compete for SBIR grants. Greenwood, ever the smart politician, congratulated both House and Senate Democratic and Republican leadership that helped enact the changes.