Biopharma and the life sciences fared relatively well in the 2017 Connecticut General Assembly session.
Soon after the session began in January, a series of unhelpful bills were filed, essentially reacting to the furor over the pricing practices of Turing Pharmaceuticals for their product Daraprim, and Mylan for the EpiPen.
These egregious cases did not represent the industry as a whole and accounted for only a tiny fraction of the approximately 2,500 medicines on pharmacy shelves.
All of these bills died in committee or were not taken up in both houses of the General Assembly.
Perhaps the most consequential and favorable legislation for the future of Connecticut bioscience are HB 5583, which expands the scope of technology companies eligible for the angel investors tax credit, and SB 1056, which aims to make Connecticut a leader in microbiome research.
A set of bills will help bring greater focus to life science economic development efforts.
- SB 959 will help build an inventory and assessment of state life sciences education programs.
- SB 962 and SB 966 require better data collection and assessment of state investments in bioscience programs and companies, including the overall effect on state economic growth and job creation.
- SB 968 charges the Commission on Economic Competitiveness to study economic initiatives aimed at growing precision medicine and personalized health in Connecticut.
Several biopharma-related bills passed in the final days of the legislative session that will positively affect patients and consumers.
- HB 5077 establishes a regulatory framework for pharmacies to accept and dispose of unused prescription medicines.
- HB 7052 deals with a range of issues concerning opioid abuse, including better monitoring of prescriptions and disclosure of opioid risks to patients.
- SB 445 provides greater transparency for consumers about medicine pricing and gives the Attorney General improved anti-trust powers as to medicine pricing.
The greatest disappointment of the 2017 session was the state Senate's failure to take up HB 7118 despite the House having passed the biosimilars bill in a 148-5 vote.
This legislation would have brought biosimilars to Connecticut.
These medicines are analogous to generics and would create substantial savings for patients and our healthcare system.
Also disappointing was the General Assembly's unwillingness to consider SB 1055, which would have allowed companies to use earned but "stranded" R&D tax credits for infrastructure projects and job creation.
There is some hope that both the biosimilars and stranded tax credits bills, because of their potential positive effect on the state budget, will be included in the biennial budget, which will be the focus of a pending special session.