State Policy Priorities

The Voice for Pennsylvania’s Life Sciences

State Policy Priorities

As the statewide trade association for Pennsylvania’s life sciences community, Life Sciences PA is committed to ensuring that the Commonwealth is the most attractive location in the United States to establish, grow and develop a life sciences organization.

Life Sciences PA works with its State Policy Committee and various stakeholders in our diverse life sciences community to develop a shared set of recommendations and strategies that will support and enhance the entire ecosystem of the life sciences in Pennsylvania – from the lab bench to the patient’s bedside.

Advancing and Accessing Innovation

Value of Innovation

Successfully healing patients or providing them with enhanced quality of life is the passion behind innovation.  With only one in ten drugs surviving the development process a successful commercial drug can cost over two billion dollars and take 10-15 years before reaching a patient.  Life Sciences PA works to ensure elected officials in Harrisburg understand that process and that patient access to drugs through appropriate drug pricing in our market-based system are what has led the United States to produce over 50 percent of the new medicines throughout the world.

Drug pricing is the cause of much debate in capitals throughout the country and determining who pays for what medicines and at what cost is an important discussion to have.  Life Sciences PA believes all parts – prescription benefit managers (PBMs), health insurance companies, pharmacies, healthcare providers, and manufacturers – of our complex drug pricing system have a role to play in this debate.  It is incumbent upon all of us to ensure that all parts of the prescription drug supply chain are acting in good faith and working to keep costs, especially those out-of-pocket costs borne by the patient, at an accessible level.

Patients’ Voice

Patients provide critical testimony on the effect of policy and regulations in their treatment and quality of life.  Remaining focused on the voice of the patient is at the core of all innovation in the life sciences.  Especially as medicines have become more individualized, the role of the patient in researching and developing new medicines has become increasingly important.  Through Rare Disease Day and in working with our more than 40 patient advocacy group members, Life Sciences PA amplifies the voice of the ultimate beneficiary of our member company research and development.

Patient Access

The novel cures and treatments being developed by our member companies mean little if the patients they are meant to serve face barriers in accessing them.  Life Sciences PA supports policies, like co-pay caps, that improve patient access to groundbreaking medicines and devices and opposes practices like non-medical switching, step therapy, and prior authorization requirements that inhibit the physician-patient relationship.

Developing the Life Sciences

Because the path to commercialization in a life sciences company can take 10-15 years, economic development support from Pennsylvania can be a company’s life blood as they work toward completing significant milestones.  Ensuring that vital economic development programs remain funded and in place, such as the Ben Franklin Technology Partners and the Life Sciences Greenhouses, support companies as  they move through the lengthy process of developing and commercializing a new medicine or device.  Additionally, these economic development programs help attract life sciences entities from other states and other countries.  A detailing of Pennsylvania’s economic development programs can be accessed at  Pennsylvania’s Community and Economic Development – Governor’s Action Team website.

Pennsylvania’s Life Sciences Greenhouses
The Life Sciences Greenhouses capture the innovation potential of the life sciences industry and nurture that potential with critical early-stage funding and sector-specific business expertise. With locations in Pittsburgh, Harrisburg and Philadelphia, citizens from every part of Pennsylvania benefit directly as new companies are formed, jobs are created, additional capital is attracted to the Commonwealth, and life-saving technologies reach patients.  Life Sciences PA supports maintaining and increasing funding for the Greenhouses, which are funded at $3 million in the Governor’s 2019-2020 budget proposal.

R&D Tax Credits

The Research and Development Tax Credit Program is vital for innovation as this program rewards increased research and development year over year.  A business can apply for a ten percent credit equal to its increase in its three-year average of its research and development expenditures with qualified small businesses eligible for a twenty percent credit.  An especially important part of this program is that these tax credits are tradeable for those companies not yet commercial and in the life sciences industry, because the path to commercialization can be over a decade, the tax credit may be just enough for a firm to make it to the next milestone and continue on important product development.  Life Sciences PA Supports maintaining and increasing funding for the Research & Development Tax Credit, which is funded at $55 million in the Governor’s 2019-2020 budget proposal.

Keystone Innovation Program

The Keystone Innovation Zones (KIZ) are a great option for start-up life sciences firms to establish an office location as they provide tax credits against the company’s tax liability with unused credits available for up to five years.  KIZs are in strategic locations statewide.  Life Sciences PA supports maintaining and increase funding for the KIZ Program, which is funded at $15 million in the Governor’s 2019-2020 budget proposal.

Ben Franklin Technology Partners
Ben Franklin Technology Partners (BFTP) is one of the nation’s longest-running technology-based economic development programs. Begun in 1983 and positioned strategically throughout the state with regional headquarters in the Lehigh Valley, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and State College, BFTP has provided both early-stage and established companies – including life sciences companies – with funding, business and technical expertise and access to a network of innovative, expert resources.  Life Sciences PA supports maintaining and increasing funding for the Ben Franklin Technology Partners, which is funded at $14.5 million in the Governor’s 2019-2020 budget proposal.

Other Support Economic Development Programs

  • Pennsylvania First Program

The Pennsylvania First (PA First) Program is a discretionary cash grant awarded to promote job creation and capital investment in the Commonwealth.  Though industry agnostic, this program offers support for projects with substantial economic impact for the Commonwealth as a whole, or for the locality/region in which a business will locate or expand.

  • CURE Funding
    Dispersed through the Department of Health, the CURE Program awards grants to Pennsylvania-based organizations for biomedical research, clinical investigations and health services research. Studies funded by the grants aim to improve the delivery of health care, promote health, prevent disease and injury, and translate research advances to community health care practice.

Strengthening the Commonwealth

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a destination for Americans to start and grow business, raise families, attend secondary schools and obtain post graduate degrees among many other reasons.  Keeping the Commonwealth healthy and strong for its residents is as important as innovating and finding new treatments and cures.  Beyond simply providing new treatments and cures to patients, Life Sciences Pennsylvania and its member companies are committed to:

Addressing the Opioid Crisis

The opioid epidemic is one of the worst public health crises the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and our country have faced in the past century.  Its affects are far-reaching and community agnostic.  Pennsylvania’s life sciences community is committed to doing everything in its power to curb this tragic epidemic, and as a public advocacy organization, this issue is one of our top priorities in discussions with legislators at all levels of government.  As an organization, Life Sciences PA (1) supports robust biomedical research on the biology of pain and addiction, which is still not well understood; (2) advocates for policies that encourage research to move from the lab to the patient; (3) works with entities in our complex health care system to ensure patients can obtain the medicines they require.

Additionally, Life Sciences PA has over 15 member companies that are working on innovative products, such as novel, non-opioid pain medications and abuse deterrent formulations, that will help alleviate the opioid crisis.

Creating Jobs and Growing the Economy

Pennsylvania’s Life Sciences industry is a backbone of the Commonwealth’s economy.  In 2016, total, direct Life Sciences industry employment in Pennsylvania was 112,068 at more than 2,800 life sciences establishments. Additionally, the industry was responsible indirectly for another 230,000 jobs through business purchases and household expenditures.  The average annual pay per employee in the life sciences in 2016 was $137,976, which was an increase of 13.9 percent since 2011.  All told, the industry generated a total state economic output of $88.5 billion – comprised of a direct economic impact of $48.8 billion and indirect economic impact of $39.6 billion.

One caveat to these strong numbers is that of the Commonwealth’s more than 2,800 life sciences establishments, over half of those are comprised of fewer than 10 employees.  While that is exciting, and very entrepreneurial in spirit, it is also fragile as many of these companies face long-odds to success, which is why its important to continue to support policies that encourage investment in the life sciences.

Public Health Benefits of Prevention

Though much of Life Sciences PA’s work is focused on bringing novel treatments and cures to patients, it is important to note that our Commonwealth is a robust manufacturer of vaccines, and other products that keep individuals out of the costly hospital setting and active in their communities.  Vaccines have virtually eradicated diseases like polio, whooping cough and typhoid fever.  Unfortunately, recent online movements – none of which are grounded in hard science – have led people to believe that vaccinations are unhealthy, or have alternative health consequences, hence the recent rise in cases of mumps, measles, and other easily preventable diseases.  Life Sciences Pennsylvania will continue to advocate for policies that ensure children, and adults, have access to vaccines that prevent a wide-range of debilitating, and sometimes deadly, diseases.

If you have questions related to Life Sciences PA’s State advocacy efforts, please contact Jen Young at