Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Congress pushes out BIOSECURE Act deadlines to 2032, WuXi denies transfer of IP

Via Reuters (May 10), this update to the BIOSECURE Act: 

A new version of a congressional bill that would restrict U.S. business with certain Chinese biotechnology companies including WuXi AppTec and BGI would give U.S. companies until 2032 to end work with the firms, extending the amount of time to find new partners.

The latest Biosecure Act also adds WuXi Biologics, opens new tab to a list of biotech companies of concern, according to a copy seen by Reuters. The other companies on the list are BGI, MGI, Complete Genomics and WuXi AppTec. 

The companies are largely contractors that do research and manufacturing work for pharmaceutical and biotech firms around the world.

The revised bill was introduced on Friday. A U.S. House of Representatives committee is expected to decide next week whether to move it forward, according to a House Committee on Oversight and Accountability spokesperson.

The committee markup, expected Wednesday, is a procedural step where they discuss and vote on the text of the bill. A similar Senate bill was approved by a committee there in March.

I'm not surprised this happened, i.e. Congress isn't that stupid and doesn't want to be on the hook for cutting off American medicine supplies. But I am, overall, pretty surprised that this is actually seeming to march its way through Congress and onto the President's desk. We'll have to see what comes out of markup today, I suppose. 

In other news, WuXi denies that it gave information to the Chinese government (article by FiercePharma)

Of all the allegations thrown at WuXi AppTec during an ongoing U.S. biosecurity crackdown, a recent intelligence report that the company had transferred an American client’s intellectual property to Beijing without consent was one of the most damning. Facing potential sanctions, the contract research and manufacturing giant is now rebutting the claim in a new letter to the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD).

WuXi Apptec’s leadership is “not aware of, would never approve, does not condone, and has a zero-tolerance policy against any attempt to mishandle or transfer a customer’s intellectual property (IP) to any unauthorized party,” the company said in a recent letter penned by co-CEO Steve Yang and its U.S. and European president Richard Connell, Ph.D.

The WuXi executives addressed the May 3 letter to the DOD’s assistant secretary of defense for industrial base policy, Laura D. Taylor-Kale, Ph.D.

It's somewhat less than Shermanesque*, but a denial is not a studied silence either. 

This is all very fascinating, and it remains (although not much remains!) to be seen whether the BIOSECURE Act will gain Congressional approval and a presidential signature. 

*"did not and would never hand over customer intellectual property to the government of China" would be my proposal if I were the one to write it

(An obvious, though impertinent question - why hasn't WuXi simply donated several million dollars to the Trump 2024 campaign, and simply purchased their support much like a TikTok investor attempted to do? If this is really happening and it would obviously have a very large impact on future business, time to give it a shot? Time for WuXi to buy a ticket to Miami?) 

1 comment:

  1. I imagine the money they make from the US is big, but I wonder if WuXi is worried about the internal (intra-China) consequences of backing Trump - he's not going to help China, and he has stoked racism towards Asian-Americans and Asians, so while the isolation may enable the Chinese government to better sell its narratives to other countries, it may also make things harder for China and Chinese companies. Trump has little in the way of loyalty, and if you're going to risk internal political consequences, you'd like to be sure that you're getting what you pay for in supporting him. I think the potential that he could cause significant damage to American democracy may undermine their economic goals more strongly than it would help them, and the resultant unpredictability may also undermine their partners in other countries.
    While the idea of supporting both candidates (in case stuff happens) is normally reasonable, it may not work for WuXi in this case (and they have to assume that it will become public, either directly or through legal avenues if it comes up in another case). - Hap


looks like Blogger doesn't work with anonymous comments from Chrome browsers at the moment - works in Microsoft Edge, or from Chrome with a Blogger account - sorry! CJ 3/21/20