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New Health Head at BIO Focuses on Personalized Medicine

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In September, BIO announced that it named John Taylor as executive vice president of health, a position for which Taylor’s background in healthcare policy, drug development, and law seems well suited. “I’m excited about the fact that the biotech community is on the cusp of using new biomedical discoveries [for] personalized medication,” Taylor says.

His most recent post was divisional VP for federal government affairs at Abbott, and prior to that he was associate commissioner for regulatory affairs at FDA.

BIO, a trade association that represents more than 1,100 biotech companies, universities, and related organizations across the US and 31 other countries, serves the four separate sectors of healthcare, agricultural, industrial, and environmental biotechnology products. Taylor is head of the largest subsector, health, where he’ll help shape health policy on behalf of members — many of whom are small biotechnology companies that don’t yet have products on the market. “Our major goal is to continue to work to ensure there’s an environment that allows for companies to design new and effective drugs for our patients,” he says.

He sees several challenges facing BIO as genomics continues to play a larger role in healthcare policy. One is, of course, making personalized medicine a reality. “It’s a challenge for us in terms of harnessing those new technologies,” he says. “But it’s a positive challenge that we look forward to undertaking, and we want to work with FDA and others to ensure that this movement continues forward.” A second but equally pressing concern is continuing to encourage companies to innovate — the seed of both new technologies as well as more revenue all around. He sees it as “ensuring that there are protections in place that once one of our companies designs a new medicine, that patent isn’t infringed upon and the company can recoup money so that it can put it back into research and development.”

His various experiences have given him insight into both the regulatory environment of drug approval and what it takes to discover and bring a new drug to market. At his 14-year career at FDA, he held positions in the Office of Chief Counsel, Office of Commissioner, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, and Office of Regulatory Affairs, all of which exposed him to the biotechnology community, he says, and the realm of manufacturing and developing products under regulatory guidance. During his two years at Abbott, one of the biggest insights he gained was realizing the amount of work it takes to discover a new drug. “It just gave me a different perspective on how much is involved in bringing a new product to market,” he says.

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