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BIO to restructure, lay off staff in shakeup of lobbying group

The Biotechnology Innovation Organization is restructuring after conducting a “thorough evaluation” of its operations and priorities, in a move that will see 30 employees depart the lobbying group, known as BIO for short.

“[W]e have developed a strategic plan for the association that is designed to bring stronger focus and greater impact in everything we do,” said BIO CEO John Crowley, in a statement emailed to BioPharma Dive.

“As our priorities come into sharper focus and our organization evolves, we have made the difficult decision to re-align our teams and redefine roles,” Crowley added.

Stat News first reported BIO’s reorganization. According to Stat, the group’s Chief Science Officer Cartier Esham, Chief Public Affairs and Marketing Officer Rich Masters and Chief Policy Officer John Murphy are among the staff departing the group.

The changes come during a turbulent period for BIO. It has had to navigate political scrutiny of the biotech industry’s ties to companies in China, manifested in legislation that would bar the U.S. government from signing contracts with drugmakers that do business with certain Chinese companies. Among them is WuXi Apptec, a former BIO member with whom the group broke ties in a policy reversal supporting the legislation, called the Biosecure Act.

Leading that shift is Crowley, who in early March replaced interim CEO Rachel King as the organization’s head. King had filled in for 14 months after Michelle McMurry-Heath stepped down from running BIO in late 2022 amid reported disagreements over the group’s role.

Under King, BIO had opposed Biosecure, calling it a “serious hazard” to the industry.

The leadership turmoil has also coincided with legislative defeats that have put BIO as well as PhRMA, the powerful lobbying group representing the pharmaceutical industry, on the back foot.

Both organizations lobbied hard against drug-related provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act, which for the first time gave Medicare power to negotiate the prices of certain medicines. The first round of discussions between the agency and drugmakers is underway, with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services expected to publish the maximum prices it will set for 10 top-selling products on Sept. 1.

In recent months, Pfizer, Takeda Pharmaceuticals and UCB all left BIO, while others, including AbbVie and AstraZeneca, previously withdrew from PhRMA.

BIO announced the restructuring two weeks ahead of its annual meeting, which regularly draws tens of thousands of attendees from the biotech and pharma industries.