Barbara Mikulski

Over the past few weeks and months I have been out and about in the state listening to Marylanders who are developing new drugs and manufacturing lifesaving medical devices.

They are also creating jobs. In Maryland, biotech means jobs, jobs, jobs. Biotech supports nearly 90,000 Maryland jobs, keeping our innovation economy rolling.

This month, the Senate HELP Committee will meet to discuss and markup legislation, the Medical Device User Fee Act and the Prescription Drug User Fee Act to ensure the safety and availability of new drugs, medical devices and treatments. As a senior member of the committee and a member of the Drug Shortage Working Group, I want to hear how government is helping, how it's hurting and when it needs to get out of the way.

On my bio-tech listening tour, I've held roundtables in Baltimore County, Montgomery County, Frederick County and Howard County. I've heard from Maryland pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, doctors, nurses and patients about the need for safe and effective treatments that are both readily available and affordable.

What they told me is that you cannot do biotech or pharmaceutical products without a Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It's the gold-standard for approving drugs and medical devices. When the FDA gives a product it's safety seal of approval, it opens every market in the world. When the FDA approves a new medical device or a new drug, you can make it in America, sell it in America and sell it around the world.

For Maryland's biotechs to succeed, the FDA needs to succeed. We need an FDA that is a responsive partner with companies to keep development on the right track to get new treatments on the fast-track to doctors and families. We need the right regulation without strangulation, so we ensure new drugs, devices and treatments are safe and effective without impeding the private sector.

I'm proud to support research and innovation jobs in Maryland's biotech industry keeping our state competitive in the global economy. Washington doesn't have all the answers. That's why I'll take what I've heard from Marylanders back to the Senate so that we can continue to come together to save and improve lives. By working to develop safe and effective treatments, we can make sure our nation's health care providers have the tools they need to keep families healthy."

Fast Facts: Biotechnology in Maryland

  • Maryland is home to more than 400 core bioscience companies
  • Biopharmaceutical companies support nearly 90,000 jobs
  • 1,000 Maryland biotech firms employ up to 20 people each

Drug Shortages Cost Lives

At a recent round table discussion at the University of Maryland Medical Center, I met with Maryland families and medical professionals to discuss the impact of prescription drug shortages.

Drug shortages are a serious problem with serious consequences. It is bad enough when a parent finds out that their child is sick. But for a parent to then find out that the drug needed to help their child get better is unavailable – not because it hasn't been developed, not because the sciences isn't advanced enough – but because of a manufacturing problem or because a company stopped making a drug when it was no longer profitable enough, well that is inexcusable.

As a member of the bipartisan Drug Shortage Working Group, I will continue to work to ensure that we have the right legislative framework with the right enforcement teeth in place to ensure that our nation's patients and health care providers are able to access the prescription drugs they depend upon.

Visit Sen. Mikulski's Website for more information