CLSA State Advocacy in Action

Last month CLSA held its 7th annual Life Sciences Academy (LSA), with 16 state legislators in attendance, engaging panel discussions, and some great opportunities for our membership to mix and mingle with other attendees.

So often, “advocacy” is just an opportunity to help educate policy makers and staff about issues affecting a particular sector, industry, or cause.  The LSA aims to create an environment that fosters open dialogue and an exchange of ideas regarding the challenges, opportunities and nuances of the life sciences sector in California.

The panel discussions included a wide range of topics, taking a deeper look into the regulatory environment for new drug and device approvals, gene and cell therapies, diabetes care and the role our sector plays in the public health space, as well as the current rebating and pricing system.

One of the more novel panel discussions this year was “New Frontiers in the Life Sciences and the Regulatory Challenges They Bring”, which took an extensive look at the numerous and sometimes conflicting regulatory frameworks between state and federal governments, or even within the same state.  These pose serious challenges for industry and the patients who rely on life sciences therapies. Today, such conflicts are perhaps most prominent for therapies and other products derived from cannabis plants.

DEEPER DIVE – read CLSA member King & Spalding’s analysis on the recent January 15, 2020, House Energy & Commerce Committee, Subcommittee on Health hearing entitled “Cannabis Policies for the New Decade.”

Perhaps the biggest hit was a panel on STEM education and workforce development with Assemblymember Luz Rivas (a female engineer elected to the legislature, with a degree in electrical engineering from MIT and a huge proponent of women in STEM).  That panel alone opened the door to some more private/public partnership opportunities and had the other legislators in the room on the edge of their seats and excited about how they could get involved.  The panel was moderated by Lori Lindburg, CEO of our institute (CLSI), whose mission is to cultivate life science innovation by providing entrepreneurial services and partnering opportunities to small and emerging companies.