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Biosecure Act could reach House floor this week

Jun 10, 2024
Illustration of tow hands holding test tubes facing each other over a background of stripes and stars

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

China hawks in the House will get a chance to advance the Biosecure Act to the floor this week, when the House Rules Committee meets on Tuesday to set up debate on the annual defense authorization bill.

Why it matters: The China biotech crackdown has wide bipartisan support but needs a must-pass vehicle to hitch a ride on. Rep. Brad Wenstrup is offering it as an amendment to the NDAA.

Between the lines: The exact parameters of a final bill could still be in flux after lawmakers asked the FBI and director of national intelligence for a briefing on the biotech company GenScript to determine its ties to the Chinese Communist Party and whether it poses any risks to the U.S., as we first reported.

  • The latest version would cut off U.S. government funding to five other biotech companies — BGI, MGI, Complete Genomics, WuXi AppTec and WuXi Biologics — and require drug developers to get out of outsourcing arrangements with those companies by 2032.

Friction point: While it's portrayed as a way to safeguard Americans' genomic information and intellectual property from firms with ties to the CCP and Chinese military, the bill has already caused upheaval in the life sciences community.

  • Biotechs attending a major industry conference last week reported they are devising workarounds and striking agreements with genomics companies outside China amid concern about shortages of key ingredients and supply chains getting squeezed.

The bottom line: The legislation is widely expected to pass in some form. "We continue to believe the Biosecure Act will become law before the end of the year, TD Cowen analyst Rick Weissenstein wrote in a note.

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