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MichBio Responds to Governor's Plan to Repeal Tort Reform Laws

ANN ARBOR, Mich., Jan. 30 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In a letter to Governor Jennifer Granholm today, MichBio Executive Director, Stephen Rapundalo, Ph.D., responded to the Governor's State of the State Address wherein she called for a repeal of current tort laws. MichBio is the statewide association for Michigan's life sciences industry.

"MichBio lauds your efforts, and those of the legislature, to diversify the state's economy by focusing on high technology areas like life sciences," said Rapundalo, writing on behalf of MichBio's more than 230 members. "However, a repeal of existing tort laws would be a detriment to the life sciences industry, would reverse 10 years of steady growth, neuter the economic development impact of the 21st Century Jobs Fund, and without a doubt diminish future investments in this market sector."

Rapundalo indicated that biotechnology and life science companies face many difficult challenges, a risk-averse investor climate, and lengthy and costly research and development timelines.

"Reversing current law would send a strong message that Michigan is not open for business, forcing new and existing biotech companies to look elsewhere to invest. Companies will not pursue their R&D plans with the knowledge or potential for litigation waiting for them at the end of their commercialization pathway. Repeal will result in a loss of current Michigan jobs and discourage any future biotech business investments and job creation in Michigan."

Noting that drugs and medical devices are the most regulated products around, Rapundalo said, "Less than 1/100 of a percent of potential medications investigated survives the FDA regulatory review gauntlet and become product launches. The contention that lay juries with no medical or science training, or understanding of the new drug application process, are better judges of relatively brief testimony, as opposed to the 12-18 month exhaustive review by experts in the field, is irresponsible. The tort system is simply ill-suited to reach a better conclusion than the FDA on drug or medical device safety.

"So let's leave product liability to the experts, and leave the tort system as is. Current law and process present an appropriate balance whereby the FDA is allowed to perform its regulatory duties, but allowing for punishment of companies that willfully withhold information or interfere with the drug approval process. Let's not unduly raise the risks for the many due to failures of the few, where current law and tort reform already provides for meaningful recourse to the injured. Michigan residents are already more than adequately protected."

Rapundalo said the issue of tort reform may be politically expedient, but it is not a benefit in practical terms. "We have made so much progress in Michigan, especially in the face of difficult economic times. I know the state would like to see the growth in the life sciences community continue, but changing these laws could do irreparable harm to all of the progress that we have made. The proposed repeal is simply at odds with our state's economic development strategy at a time when we can least afford further losses in the life sciences industry."

MichBio is committed to driving the growth of Michigan's life science industry and to fostering the collective impact of its members by serving as their unified voice and by providing them with education, information, connections and other services. MichBio members include life sciences companies, academic and research institutions, bioscience service providers, and related organizations.

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