As Maine competes with other states in an effort to remake our business environment into a more attractive climate for biotech and health care companies, it is worth reminding ourselves that we have some unique opportunities to make Maine a place where innovation bears fruit in terms of sustainable jobs and state tax revenues. Now more than ever, the decisions we make, the policies we pursue, the funds we allocate all must keep the preservation and growth of innovation front and center.
A recently introduced bill, LD 719, will repeal three areas of existing Maine law. This would make our state more competitive in attracting the biotech and health care industries. These laws should be repealed as they are redundant due to federal health care legislation passed in 2010 and 2007 that mandate similar information disclosures. Consumers will be able to access information about relationships between Maine health providers and biopharmaceutical companies, and about ongoing and completed drug clinical trials on federal websites.
Repealing Maine laws that are redundant and inhibit investment in Maine sends a broad message: Maine is open for business.
Why act now? Maine has a chance to be a national leader once again. We were one of the first states to adopt a marketing disclosure law, and we remain the only state to have adopted a state-specific clinical trial disclosure law. The federal regulations concerning both the marketing disclosure and clinical trial disclosure laws should be completed later this year.
Now that the federal government has followed Maine’s lead, we can be the first state to recognize that these laws are now not necessary, and let biotech-pharmaceutical companies know that they can and should do business in Maine. Maine
should follow the recent actions of the Massachusetts House, which recently adopted language in their budget repealing the requirements for reporting on interactions between
the pharmaceutical industry and health care providers.
The Maine economy continues to struggle, with 8.5 percent unemployment. The most important thing the 125th Maine Legislature can do is adopt only laws that help the Maine economy recover. Maine has already put in a lot of work to attract biotech-pharmaceutical sector jobs, and this would be another major step forward.
These companies have a lot to offer Maine. The latest data report that the biotech industry employs nearly 12,000 residents, and Maine hosts more than 400 active clinical trials for innovative new medicines. Jobs supported by this industry are high-paying in nature — direct biopharmaceutical wages in Maine were estimated to be $119.4 million in 2008, resulting in an estimated $25.2 million in federal taxes and $4.1 million in state taxes. It is vital that this research and these jobs not only remain for our residents, but that further hires and capital investments are encouraged through our legislative leadership.
With new concern on fiscal regrowth and deficit reduction, it is worth focusing on the role that health care can play in America’s economy. It is time to use the legislative process in the state to make Maine a stronger state for its residents and retirees — use it to make the state a place for business and long-term investments in jobs and communities.
Karin A.Gregory is president of the Bioscience Association of Maine. Paul R. Pescatello is chairman of the New England Biotech Association.