The Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) held its latest (the 26th annual) International Convention in Philadelphia on June 3-6, with more than 17,000 attendees, over 8,400 companies and more than 315 academic institutions and research centers, as well as over 1,800 exhibitors in the exhibit hall. The phrase of the week was “It Starts with One,” according to BIO. Attendees came from 65 countries and 49 of the 50 states, and there were 126 educational sessions, more than 800 speakers and over 250 company presentations, according to official statistics.
Along with many special programs (such as the Biotechnology Entrepreneurship Boot Camp) the convention provided dozens of educational tracks and panel discussions, directed to topics such as:
Biofuels and Renewable Chemicals
Business Development and Finance
Emerging Opportunities in Global Markets
Highly Prevalent Chronic Diseases*
Infectious Diseases and Vaccines
Next Generation Biotherapeutics
Opioids: Changing the Paradigm of Treating Pain and Addiction
Orphan and Rare Diseases
Personalized Medicine and Diagnostics
Value, Patient Access and Reimbursement
* new in 2019
In addition there were several “Super Sessions” on such topics as “What’s Next: the Landscape of Innovation for 2019 and Beyond,” “Falling in Love with Science: Championing Science for Everyone, Everywhere,” “Digital Health in Practice: A Conversation with Ameet Nathwani,” “Realizing the Promise of Gene Therapies for Patients Around the World,” “Biotech’s Contribution to Innovation: Current and Future Drivers of Success,” “The Art and Science of R&D Innovation and Productivity,” “Dealmakers Intentions: 2019 Market Outlook,” “The State of the Vaccine Industry: Stimulating Sustainable Growth,” and “Nature Biotechnology and Scientific American World View: Biotech Innovation in a Faster Future.”
The Intellectual Property track contained panels on many issues of current and continuing concern, including biosimilars, the BPCIA, the interplay of patent preparation and prosecution in Europe and the U.S., IP strategies for biotech companies navigating regulatory requirements, the status of the on-sale bar after Helsinn and a comparison of patent subject matter eligibility across the globe. The track kicked off with an address by Sen. Christopher Coons (D-DE) who is spearheading an effort along with Sen. Thorn Tillis (R-NC) to bring legislative clarity to patent eligibility requirements disrupted by recent Supreme Court rulings.
The tensions and challenges posed by companies having both innovator and biosimilar efforts (and products) were addressed in a panel entitled “Innovators and Biosimilars: Strategies for Having Both Under the Same Roof,” by a panel moderated by Q. Todd Dickenson and including Michael Penn (Amgen), Thomas Posche (Allergan) and Timothy Worrall (Polsinelli). Paul Golian (Bristol-Myers Squibb), Julia Pike (Sandoz), and Chandra Vira (Sterne Kessler discussed “The BPCIA Turning Ten: What’s Next for Biosimilars” on a panel moderated by Steve Maslowski (Akin Gum). “Pitfalls for U.S. Applicants when Filing Patent Applications at the EPO” was discussed by Fredrik Aslund (EPO), Robert Dempster (Scrip IP) and Ying Li (Steptoe). Pier Roo (Finnegan) moderated a panel of Django Andrews (Sarpeta Diagnostics), Charles Collin-Chase (Finnegan) and Cynthia Martin (Astrazeneca) that discussed “Ready to Launch? IP Strategies for Emerging Pharma and Biotech Companies Navigating Regulatory Approval.”
The Supreme Court’s recent decision in Helsinn v. Teva was the topic of a panel entitled “Don’t be Barred by the On-Sale Bar: Helsinn and Other Case Updates,” discussed by Cambria Alpha-Cobb (Momenta Pharmaceuticals), Andrew Bentham (J.A. Kemp) and Donna Meuth (Eisai). Finally, Alain Dong (Barnes & Thornburg), Carmela De Luca (Bereskin & Parr), David Nowak (Henry Hughes), and David Spinner (Greaves Brewster) took their audience on a legal trip around the globe, discussing “Patentable Subject Matter Around the World: Life Science Inventions in Canada, Europe, China, Australia, and New Zealand,” moderated by Eric Williams (Barnes & Thornburg).
Keynote addresses were given by author Siddhartha Mukherjee, author of The Gene and The Emperor of All Maladies and Jamie Dimon, chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase. There were also a number of “fireside chats,” more informal presentations by organizational leaders (Margaret Hamburg, M.D., AAAS), government officials (an FDA Town Hall meeting including John Maraganore, Ph.D., Alnylam; Peter Marks, M.D./Ph.D., CBER/FDA; and Janet Woodcock, M.D., CDER/FDA), patient groups (Julie Gerberding, M.D., Merck; Christopher Anselmo, MDA; Eve Bukowski, California Life Sciences Assoc.; and Emily Kramer-Golinkoff, Emily’s Entourage); industry leaders (including Christi Shaw, Eli Lilly & Co.) and Kenneth C. Frazier, Merck); and investors (Jeffrey Solomon, COWEN).
BIO continued its focus on business partnering portion of the convention, particularly its “one-on-one” partnering event; this year there were almost 50,000 meetings, which BIO said it broke the record established last year in Boston.
The next BIO International Convention will be held in San Diego from June 8-11, 2020.