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Amended Biosecure Act sets new timeline to move away from Chinese outsourcing firms

The bill, which aims to protect US national security, has received support from a leading biotech organization

by Aayushi Pratap
May 15, 2024 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 102, Issue 15


Capitol Hill with the DNA molecule in the background.
Credit: Madeline Monroe/C&EN/Shutterstock

Lawmakers in the US House of Representatives have updated the draft of the Biosecure Act, setting 2032 as the deadline for US drug and biotech companies to break ties with a handful of Chinese “biotechnology companies of concern.”

The bill, introduced in January, seeks to stop firms that receive federal funds from using select Chinese service companies: the genomics firms BGI, MGI, and Complete Genomics; and WuXi AppTec, a contract drug manufacturer with clients such as Eli Lilly and Company. The bill’s latest iteration also adds WuXi AppTec’s sister company, WuXi Biologics.

The update came after the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), a trade group, released a survey that highlights the strong dependence of US drug and biotech companies on Chinese contract drug developers and manufacturers and cautions about breaking ties too soon.

The survey found that 79% of 124 US companies had at least one contract or product agreement with a China-based or -owned manufacturer. Millions of patients depend on Chinese contract development and manufacturing organizations, the report says.

BIO CEO John Crowley says the phase-out date proposed in the amended draft provides companies time to cut their reliance on China-based manufacturing. “It ensures during this transition that important biomedical research will not be slowed and that patients will have unimpeded access to life-saving medicines,” he says in a statement.

The first draft of the bill alleges connections between the WuXi firms and the Chinese Communist Party. For instance, it says WuXi AppTec has sponsored “military-civil fusion” events in China and received investments from a military-civil integration investment fund. The bill also says WuXi Biologics CEO Chris Chen was previously an adjunct professor at the People’s Liberation Army Academy of Military Medical Sciences.

Both WuXi companies have denied the allegations, calling them misleading. WuXi AppTec and BIO parted ways in March after BIO supported the bill. WuXi Biologics recently said it will no longer participate in BIO’s 2024 convention, set for next month in San Diego.



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