Progress, Plans and Partners

It’s that time of year.  The time when we look back at what has been done, plan for what is yet to come,   gather our partners around to say thanks, and engage in  new projects for the year ahead.


2012 here, but before we say adieu to 2011 let’s look back at  the progress we made as together we moved forward faster.

Moving Forward FASTER was our theme for 2011 as we expanded media and social media outreach with EmpowHER, launched the new and AZBio1 YouTube Channel.  Thanks to the hard work and efforts of the AZBIo events committee and our AZBio support team at KCA over 600 members of our community  gathered together at our AZBio Signature events, the AZBio Awards and Expo and the 2011 Trailblazer Awards  to celebrate award winning companies and leaders who are driving their teams forward faster and making it possible for all of us to join them.

Partnerships with the Flinn Foundation, the Arizona Commerce Authority, The Arizona Technology Council, Medtronic, ATIC and GPEC resulted in events that highlighted the progress we are making together across the state.

  • April’s Road Map Update and Legislative Meet and Greet at the Arizona Science Center
  • June’s Arizona Pavilion at the BIO International Convention in Washington, D.C.
  • July’s Partnering Conference with the Arizona Technology Council
  • September’s Medtronic Open House and ATIC/AZBio Conference on TeleHealth
  • October’s AZBio Awards and Expo
  • November’s Collaborating for Customized Care (GPEC Personalized Medicine Summit)
  • December’s Trailblazer Awards

There are hundreds of photos on Facebook – to  find yourself and your friends – click here

While all these happenings and gatherings kept us connected – there was work to be done too.  From the State Capitol to the halls of DC, AZBio worked on key issues including The Medical Device Tax, proposed changes to Medicare parts B and D, reauthorization of the SBIR/STTR and submitting comments to rules and regulations at the FDA.  You will find all the details under Advocacy on


Plans for 2012:

We moved forward faster in 2011, and were gaining momentum in 2012.  From South or the Gila to the pine crested peaks of Northern AZ and Arizona’s Central core, the Education and  Events Committee is working on the monthly regional events schedule. In addition to Beer & Bio, watch for  Member Open Houses and  topics spanning  business and science to help YOU gain momentum and stay connected.  We’re expanding the signature events also with

  • The Fore AZBio Golf Tournament – April 20, 2012
  • AZBio’s Washington DC Fly-In with BIO – April 24-25, 2012
  • AZBio Expo and online virtual AZBio Exposition– May 2012
  • Arizona Pavilion at BIO in Boston – June 18-21, 2012
  • AZBio/ATIC Conference on TeleHealth and EMR – September 20,  2012
  • AZBio Awards – September, 2012
  • 2012 Trailblazer Awards – December, 2012

On the government affairs front, our Government Affairs Committee will meet monthly to guide us on implementation of the AZBio 2012 Policy Initiatives – check out the AZBio  Events Listing for times and locations.   Regionally the  Beer & Bio’s  begin again in all three regions  (North/Central/South) beginning in January.  It’s a great way to keep in touch with friends, make new connections, and  stay engaged.

AZBio is committed to supporting the Arizona Bioindustry as it continues to gain momentum across the state.  Check out the 2012 AZBio prospectus to learn how you can help us  gain momentum and together we will all move forward faster.


It starts with membership and builds when you get involved.  To join AZBio and learn how you can partner statewide visit



We’ve made a lot of progress in 2011 – and we did not do it alone.  Thank you to all of our wonderful partners fort making it possible:

AZBio Supporters help AZBio support you.

Legacy Level: Arizona Commerce Authority  Flinn Foundation

Chairman Level: UpStream Consulting


Leadership Level: 360 VANTAGE Celgene Corporation KCA   Polsinelli Shughart   Northern Arizona University   Snell and Wilmer   VWR


Gold Level: Affordable Image  ASU SkySong BIO Drip Media  Ernst and Young  EmpowHER Media Medtronic Tempe Campus PADT Medical Provista Diagnostics   Ventana Medical Systems, Inc.


Silver Level:
City of Phoenix
  Fennemore Craig  Genentech  Lohman Company, PLLC   Pfizer  PhRMA  The CORE Institute  The Phoenix Business Journal  The University of Arizona  The Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University

One step closer on the road to SBIR Reauthorization

The SBIR/STTR program has not been reauthorized yet but we are one step closer as the December 16th deadline approaches.

Monday (December 12, 2012) word of a Senate/House compromise was announced that may lead to a positive outcome that would reauthorize the SBIR/STTR program for six years.  This would be a huge improvement over the multiple short term extensions we have seen  in recent years. Continue reading

An Opportunity to Make Difference Around the World

 It’s the season for giving, and some of the greatest gifts we can give are our time and talents.  Recently AZBio connected with Engineering World Health and learned about an opportunity where bioscience professionals and healthcare engineers can make a difference by sharing time and talent healthcare organizations in developing countries.  EWH has shared a special guest post that we are sharing with you.  It just might be your opportunity to make a difference for communities around the world. Continue reading

Making Sense of the Medical Device Tax

Estimated at $20B, the Medial Device Tax was included in the Affordable Care Act that was signed into law by President Obama in 2010. The amount is based on a 2.3% excise tax that will be levied on the total revenues of a company, regardless of whether a company generates a profit, starting in 2013.

While many industry groups including AZBio, AdvaMed, and MDMA have been sharing information on why this tax is unwise and have worked to explain the negative effects that it could have on innovation and patient care, there is always the possibility that it will not be repealed before 2013.

Ernst and Young recently published a Tax Note on the Medical Device Tax that gives a comprehensive overview of what it is, who it affects and how they will be affected.  The tax note is provided below as published by E&Y and is shared with permission.Continue reading

AZBio Viewpoint – Key Issues and Actions for 2012

Beginning in November 2011, AZBio reached out across Arizona and asked our community to rate the importance of key factors related to the growth of our bioscience industry here in Arizona as well as what areas AZBio should focus on in 2012 on a rating scale from 1 to 5 with 5 being most important.

What do AZ Bioscience companies need to thrive? Of fifteen issues, here are your top five areas based on the number of 4’s and 5’s combined.

  1. State and local policies that promote the attraction and growth of companies in the  Arizona Bioscience Industry. (80% rated this a 4 or 5) 
  2. Access to a qualified bioscience talent pool (75% rated this a 4 or 5) 
  3. Improving the quality of our Arizona educational system overall (71% rated this 4 or 5)
  4. Access to growth capital  (63% rated this a 4 or 5)  
  5. State financial support for the continued growth of Arizona’s independent research institutions and universities (61% rated this a 4 or 5)

Where can AZBio make the most impact?  Where should we focus our resources?

  1. Working with Angels, Venture Capital, and Financial Institutions to expand opportunities for Arizona Bioscience Companies to access growth capital. (78% rated this a 4 or 5)
  2. Advocating for our industry at the state and local level (75% rated this a 4 or 5)  
  3. Spreading the word about the  value created by Arizona’s Bioscience Industry (71% rated this a 4 or 5)  
  4. Working with educators to promote interest in bioscience education and for their students, interest and preparation for bioscience careers.  
  5. Advocating for our industry and state in Washington, D.C. (70% rated this a 4 or 5)

 Stay Tuned in December for a sneak peek at AZbio’s Plans for 2012.

AZBio Celebrates Trailblazers

Arizona’s bioscience community came together on December 1, 2011 to show appreciation to the leaders who have blazed the path for bioscience growth here in Arizona.  We call these individuals “Trailblazers.”

Members of community from across the  state had an opportunity to share ideas with legislators, elected officials and leaders from Arizona’s bioscience companies, universities and research institutions.  AZBio members also were updated on the latest results from the AZBio Viewpoint Survey and all attendees received the 2012 AZBio public policy initiatives as well as  a comprehensive list of policy recommendations from the Flinn Foundation and the Bioscience Road Map Steering Committee. Continue reading

AZBio writes to Congress on Medicare Part B and ASP+6

To:  The Members of the Arizona House Delegation

From: The Members of the Arizona Bioscience Industry

RE:   Proposed lowering of the ASP percentage from 6% to 4% could have dangerous side effects and information in support of the Lance/Pascrell letter that is being circulated. 

We have a lot of things that need fixing at the moment as the financial burden our country bears comes under further review and adjustments.  Many of our systems are broken, but some are working.  ASP and Medicare Part B is a case in point.

In keeping with the Arizona BioIndustry Association’s commitment to monitor key issues and to share key information on areas that affect our community, our state and our nation, the following points are offered to assist you on how best to control healthcare costs and protect jobs while serving the best interests of millions of Americans and tens of thousands of Arizonans who are touched directly or indirectly by the current ASP rates and the Medicare Part B Program.


 Biologics are used to treat some of the most serious diseases.  Many of these products are infused directly  into the patients’ blood stream and require administration in a physician’s office because of their  complexity and the need to monitor how the patient is responding.  Medicare pays for these products under Part B of the statute and pay for the product at the average sales price plus a physician add-on that covers the handling and administration of the product.  This system was created as a replacement to the old system in order to better reflect the cost of the products.  The change in the program is estimated to have saved $16 billion since the MMA was implemented in 2005.

ASP+6%  is working well and there is no policy argument for reducing the add-on payment down to 3%.  MedPac, which makes recommendations to Congress on CMS policy, has found that the 6% is an adequate payment level.  The only reason to dial down the % is to save the government money, approximately $3 billion but is unlikely to be a true savings as these costs will reappear in other places.

Some providers, especially in rural areas, are already struggling.  Many of these providers are small businesses that provide lifesaving medical services in their communities.   Passing the cost burden to these small companies could result in curtailment of their service offerings in their communities.  As services are cut back, jobs are lost.

Dialing down the percentage has the potential to really disrupt the delivery system, creating potential access problems for patients and ultimately costing the government more as these patients end up in the hospital for either the initial treatment or complications caused by limited access to these treatments and
services that land them in the hospital with more serious problems later.

In addition, the regulatory changes that would be needed to implement this change may face significant hurdles in implementation during the Regulatory Flexibility Review.  As you know, The Regulatory Flexibility Act, which was created in 1980 and amended in 1996, requires federal agencies to assess the economic impact of proposed and existing regulations on small businesses.  Rules found to be too burdensome must be replaced with alternatives.   A government mandated profit margin that falls below the operating costs of these small businesses will effectively drive small business providers out of the market as they would not be able to sustain operations at this level or compete with large businesses that have other areas where they can shift costs to keep their operations solvent.

The 6% is not all profit for these providers.  Within that they have to deal with numerous factors critical for their business model including the prompt pay discount, bad debt, handling and administration and others. Lowering the add-on will force certain providers to no longer take Medicare patients, forcing them into the hospital setting which is more expensive and less convenient.

This sort of disruption, to a system that is working, for a cost saving estimated at $3 billion over 10 years will have dangerous side effects for little to no real benefit.  This is basically a rounding error in the larger healthcare cost and budget debate and once the unintended consequences to small businesses, jobs, and patient access are added in potentially a net increase healthcare costs and yet another hurdle for businesses of all sizes as we strive for economic recovery.

As I shared in the beginning, ASP and Medicare Part B is Working. It has allowed us to reduce healthcare costs and through the products it covers stimulate innovation and create jobs.  The current 6% level offers a slim but manageable profit margin for small business providers.  Fixing a system that is not
broken could negatively impact thousands of Arizonans and millions of Americans.   I know you have a lot on your plate in solving the financial challenges our country is facing.   Perhaps it is time to take changes to the ASP+6% Rate  and Medicare Part B off the “fix it list” and  use our scarce resources to address other challenges that can truly use the help.

On behalf of the Arizona BioIndustry and our community, I thank you for taking the time to read this letter and for doing what is best for all of us.


 Joan Koerber-Walker
President and CEO
AZBio – The Arizona BioIndustry Association
SkySong, 1475 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, AZ 85257


Want To Move Forward Faster? Activate The Collaborative Gene

clip_image002Arizona biosciences sector demonstrates how to accelerate innovation and job growth and offers insight on how Washington can keep things moving forward faster by activating its “collaborative gene.”

These days tales of economic vitality are few and far between making Arizona’s bioscience sector an inspiration to all as the nation focuses on jobs and economic recovery.

Thanks to a coordinated plan developed in 2002 and supported by leaders from Arizona’s healthcare industry, corporations, government, and universities that has been led by the Flinn Foundation with support from Battelle, Arizona is moving forward faster in economic development, job creation and bioscience research.Continue reading

2011 AZBio Awards Honorees Announced

The Arizona BioIndustry is Moving Forward Faster in 2011

The Arizona BioIndustry Association has selected finalists and honorees for its annual awards gala to be held at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass on Oct. 13.  Awards to be presented include: 2011 Michael A. Cusanovich  Educator of the Year, Fast Lane Company Awards, the Arizona Bioscience Company of the Year, the Jon W. McGarity Bioscience Leader of the Year Award, and the Arizona Bioscience Researcher of the Year Award.

Continue reading

Life Sciences in the Fast Lane

MP900438890[1]This year at the AZBio Awards and Expo our theme is all about forward motion.  Specifically, how  we move forward…faster.

From global innovations like IBM’s WATSON on Thursday night October 13, 2011 to panels of CEOs and leaders along with  nationally recognized thought leaders who will take the stage Friday October 14, 2011,  the conversations are geared up to deliver  the information and ideas  we  need to move our industry and our economy forward…faster.

A single accelerator? Continue reading