NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – A new bill in the US House of Representatives aims to revive and extend a temporary program that provided $1 billion for grants and tax credits to small biotech and pharmaceutical firms working on therapies and biomedical innovations.
The one-year Qualifying Therapeutic Discovery Project that was created as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act under the new bill would provide $1 billion per year between 2011 and 2017.
Introduced by Representatives Susan Davis (D – Ca.) and Allyson Schwartz (D – Pa.), the Qualifying Therapeutic Discovery Project Tax Credit Extension Act of 2011 (H.R. 1988) would enable small businesses with less than 250 employees to choose a grant over receiving a tax credit, so that firms that are not yet profitable can benefit from the program.
The credit or grant will cover up to 50 percent of the cost of biomedical research up to $5 million per firm, and they will be available for investments made in 2009 and 2010 and through 2015.
It is aimed at supporting efforts to develop technologies to prevent, detect, or treat chronic or acute diseases and conditions that will significantly advance the goal of curing cancer within 30 years and help to reduce the long-term growth of healthcare costs in the US.
These credits and grants will fund a range of research efforts beyond therapeutic development, including personalized medical innovations using genetic testing and pharmacogenomics applications.
"Smart, targeted tax credits and grants like this effort are exactly the types of investments we must make to ensure America leads in a global economy driven by innovation and forward-thinking ideas," Schwartz said in a statement Thursday.
Biotechnology Industry Organization President Jim Greenwood said that the first year of the program funded nearly 3,000 companies and added that this bill will "support continued American innovation and accelerate the development of life-saving cures for numerous prominent diseases, such as cancers, mental illnesses, heart disease, and Parkinson's disease.
"The bill provides much-needed support for biotechnology companies working on breakthrough therapies that could ultimately lower overall healthcare costs and cure these debilitating diseases within the next 30 years," Greenwood added.
The bill was introduced in the House this week and no further actions have yet been taken.
Among the firms that received grants and credits under the program last year were High Throughput Genomics, DNA Medicine, Health Discovery, Provista Life Sciences, Quanterix, the DNA Medicine Institute, On-Q-Ity, Empire Genomics, as well as a number of other 'omics companies.