Voting in the 2020 election (AP Images)

The right to vote is fun­da­men­tal — a let­ter from biotech­nol­o­gy in­dus­try lead­ers

Biotech Voices is a collection of exclusive opinion editorials from some of the leading voices in biopharma on the biggest industry questions today. Think you have a voice that should be heard? Reach out to senior editors Kyle Blankenship and Amber Tong.

We op­pose all at­tempts to in­tro­duce laws that re­duce the rights of US cit­i­zens to vote or that re­strict them from ex­er­cis­ing that right. The right to vote is fun­da­men­tal to democ­ra­cy. States that have en­act­ed, or are propos­ing to en­act, leg­is­la­tion to re­strict vot­ing are un­der­min­ing our democ­ra­cy and pos­ing a threat to our na­tion. As lead­ers of the life sci­ences in­dus­try, we stand for what we be­lieve is right for our coun­try, our en­ter­pris­es, our em­ploy­ees and those who ben­e­fit from our work. We join the first groups of busi­ness lead­ers who have chal­lenged these laws and will con­tin­ue to make our col­lec­tive voic­es heard on this mat­ter.

In some cas­es, in­sti­ga­tors of such laws may be sin­cere in be­liev­ing they are “en­sur­ing in­tegri­ty of the vot­ing process.” Such be­liefs are based on the con­tention that the 2020 elec­tion was “fraud­u­lent.” The US courts, the De­part­ment of Jus­tice, var­i­ous state gov­ern­ment of­fices and in­de­pen­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tions all have de­bunked this myth. In oth­er cas­es, pro­po­nents of such laws co­or­di­nate ef­forts and de­lib­er­ate­ly seek to dis­en­fran­chise and dis­crim­i­nate against par­tic­u­lar vot­ers.

Through­out its his­to­ry, Amer­i­ca has been called on re­peat­ed­ly to re­new and ad­vance its com­mit­ment to its found­ing ideals. Core among these is that all Amer­i­cans are en­ti­tled to equal op­por­tu­ni­ty and to be treat­ed equal­ly un­der the law. There is noth­ing more in­im­i­cal to these ideals than to un­der­mine our right to vote in free and fair elec­tions.

Amer­i­cans have en­dured a ter­ri­ble Civ­il War and have fought for gen­er­a­tions to over­come the evils of slav­ery, seg­re­ga­tion and Jim Crow. To­day we are fac­ing an­oth­er im­por­tant chap­ter in this fight. The cur­rent ef­forts in sev­er­al states to change vot­ing laws ef­fec­tive­ly mar­gin­al­ize and sup­press par­tic­u­lar class­es of vot­ers. Such out­comes fur­ther di­vide our so­ci­ety. They lead us back­ward, un­rav­el­ing many of the hard-won vic­to­ries — for which Amer­i­cans fought, and of­ten died — crit­i­cal to our na­tion’s democ­ra­cy and the free­dom of fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.

The biotech­nol­o­gy in­dus­try is dri­ving a rev­o­lu­tion to cure pa­tients, pro­tect our cli­mate, and nour­ish hu­man­i­ty. Our in­dus­try im­pacts the lives of bil­lions, em­ploys and in­vests in every state in our na­tion, and leads the de­vel­op­ment of vac­cines and med­i­cines that will de­feat the glob­al Covid pan­dem­ic and many oth­er dis­eases.

The US leads the world in biotech­nol­o­gy in large part be­cause the sci­ence un­der­pin­ning our in­dus­try thrives in a free so­ci­ety. Peo­ple of tal­ent are drawn to our in­dus­try re­gard­less of their per­son­al iden­ti­fiers or na­tion­al­i­ty. They feel that they will in­deed have equal op­por­tu­ni­ty to con­tribute and suc­ceed. They be­lieve they will be treat­ed equal­ly by the law and that ef­forts to con­tribute to the biotech­nol­o­gy rev­o­lu­tion are fos­tered by the so­ci­ety we live in. When the 2 free­doms foun­da­tion­al to our so­ci­ety are abridged, we lose this ad­van­tage, and will cede the field and our in­no­va­tions to com­pet­ing coun­tries.

As lead­ers in the biotech­nol­o­gy in­dus­try, and as in­di­vid­u­als who care deeply about democ­ra­cy, we call on all lead­ers in our in­dus­try to act as fol­lows:

  1. When mak­ing new or ad­di­tion­al cap­i­tal in­vest­ments, ac­tive­ly con­sid­er al­ter­na­tives to in­vest­ing with­in states that have en­act­ed vot­er sup­pres­sion laws.
  2. En­cour­age or­ga­niz­ers to con­sid­er al­ter­na­tive venues for con­fer­ences and ma­jor meet­ings and re­spect the right of those who choose not to at­tend meet­ings in any State en­act­ing vot­er sup­pres­sion laws.
  3. Es­tab­lish poli­cies per­mit­ting half-day paid leave for all em­ploy­ees to vote.
  4. En­cour­age em­ploy­ees to par­tic­i­pate in ef­forts to help reg­is­ter vot­ers and phys­i­cal­ly as­sist those who are un­able to eas­i­ly vote them­selves due to age, ill­ness, dis­abil­i­ty or oth­er im­ped­i­ment

We stand to­geth­er for the rights of all Amer­i­cans to vote freely and fair­ly. To do oth­er­wise would be to ac­cede to the hol­low­ing out of our democ­ra­cy which, as Lin­coln ob­served, has made Amer­i­ca the “last, best hope on earth.” The sig­na­tures be­low rep­re­sent the views of in­di­vid­u­als and not their com­pa­nies or oth­er or­ga­ni­za­tions.

Signed,

Je­re­my Levin, DPhil, MB BChir, Chair­man and CEO, Ovid Ther­a­peu­tics

Paul Hast­ings, Pres­i­dent and CEO, Nkar­ta Ther­a­peu­tics

John Maraganore, CEO, Al­ny­lam Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals

Ted W. Love, MD, Pres­i­dent and CEO, Glob­al Blood Ther­a­peu­tics

Rachel K. King, CEO, Gly­coMimet­ics

Ron Co­hen, MD, Pres­i­dent and CEO, Acor­da Ther­a­peu­tics

Sri­ni Akkara­ju, Founder & Man­ag­ing Part­ner, Sam­sara Bio­cap­i­tal

Jeff Al­bers, CEO, Blue­print Med­i­cines

Faraz Ali, CEO, Tenaya Ther­a­peu­tics

Theodore (Ted) T. Ash­burn, MD, PhD, Pres­i­dent and CEO, On­corus

Mar­tin Babler, For­mer CEO, Prin­cip­ia

Je­re­my Ben­der, CEO, Day One Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals

Nes­san Berming­ham, PhD Founder & CEO at Triplet Ther­a­peu­tics, Founder and Ex­ec Chair at Ko­r­ro Bio, Chair at Fs­tar Ther­a­peu­tics

Hans Bish­op, CEO, Grail

Kevin Bit­ter­man, Part­ner, At­las Ven­ture

Robert I. Blum, Pres­i­dent and CEO, Cy­to­ki­net­ics, Inc.

Bruce Booth, Part­ner, At­las Ven­ture

Daniel M. Brad­bury, Ex­ec­u­tive Chair­man, Equi­l­li­um

Pablo J. Cagnoni, MD, Pres­i­dent and CEO, Ru­bius Ther­a­peu­tics

Chip Clark, Pres­i­dent and CEO, Geno­cea Bio­sciences

Scott Clarke, CEO, Am­bagon Ther­a­peu­tics

Tony Coles, MD, Chair and CEO, Cerev­el Ther­a­peu­tics

Roger Crys­tal, MD, Pres­i­dent and CEO, Opi­ant Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals

Rahul Dhan­da, Pres­i­dent and CEO, Sher­lock Bio­sciences

Doug Do­er­fler, Pres­i­dent and CEO, Max­Cyte

Di­pal Doshi, CEO, En­tra­da Ther­a­peu­tics

Er­ic Dube, CEO, Tra­vere Ther­a­peu­tics

Dou­glas Fam­brough, CEO, Dicer­na Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals

Corey Fish­man, CEO, Iterum Ther­a­peu­tics

Jean-François Formela, Part­ner, At­las Ven­ture

Jacqua­lyn A. Fouse, CEO, Agios Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals

Cedric Fran­cois, CEO, Apel­lis Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals

Sean George, CEO, In­vi­tae

Deb Ger­aghty, PhD, Pres­i­dent and CEO, Anokion

Michael Glad­stone, Part­ner, At­las Ven­ture

San­dra Glucks­mann, PhD, Pres­i­dent and CEO, Cedil­la Ther­a­peu­tics

Jeff Goater, Chair­man of the Board, Sur­face On­col­o­gy

David Grayzel, MD, Part­ner, At­las Ven­ture

Bar­ry Greene, CEO, Sage Ther­a­peu­tics

Adam Gri­d­ley, CEO, Al­lay Ther­a­peu­tics

David Hal­lal, Chair­man and CEO, El­e­vate­Bio

Patrick Hines, MD/PhD, CEO, Func­tion­al Flu­idics

Steven Holtz­man, Chair, Board of Di­rec­tors, Camp4

Alex Kar­nal, Co-Founder and CIO, Braid­well

Per­ry Karsen, for­mer CEO, Cel­gene Cel­lu­lar Ther­a­peu­tics

Scott Koenig, MD, PhD, Pres­i­dent and CEO, Macro­Gen­ics

Pe­ter Kolchin­sky, Man­ag­ing Part­ner, RA Cap­i­tal

Samarth Kulka­rni, CEO, CRISPR Ther­a­peu­tics

Don­na LaVoie, CEO, LaVoieHealth­Science

Pablo Legor­re­ta, Founder and CEO, Roy­al­ty Phar­ma

Mark Levin, Part­ner, TRV

Will Lewis, Chair and CEO, In­smed

Gail Maderis, Pres­i­dent and CEO, An­ti­va Bio­sciences

Tahir Mah­mood, CEO and Founder, Ap­plied Mol­e­c­u­lar Trans­port

Jef­frey D. Mar­raz­zo, CEO, Spark Ther­a­peu­tics

Alex Mar­tin, CEO, Pal­la­dio Bio­sciences

Ken Mills, Pres­i­dent and CEO, RE­GENXBIO

Ken­neth I. Moch, Se­nior Ad­vi­sor to the Chair­man, Cen­ter for Glob­al Health In­no­va­tion and the Glob­al Health Cri­sis Co­or­di­na­tion

Michael M. Mor­ris­sey, Pres­i­dent and CEO, Ex­elix­is

Amit Mun­shi, CEO, Are­na Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals

William J. Newell, CEO, Sutro Bio­phar­ma

John Or­win, Pres­i­dent and CEO, Atre­ca

Ju­lia Owens, PhD, Ex­ec­u­tive Chair­man, Mil­len­do Ther­a­peu­tics

Ste­lios Pa­padopou­los, PhD, Chair­man of the Board at Bio­gen, Ex­elix­is, Reg­u­lus Ther­a­peu­tics

An­tho­ny Quinn, MB, ChB, PhD, Pres­i­dent and CEO, Ae­glea Bio­Ther­a­peu­tics

Bill Rastet­ter, Chair­man at Neu­ro­crine Bio­sciences, Fate Ther­a­peu­tics, Daré Bio­science; San Diego Squared

Ronald C. Re­naud, Jr., CEO, Trans­late Bio

Ja­son P. Rhodes, Part­ner, At­las Ven­ture

Mar­tine A. Roth­blatt, PhD, Chair­per­son and CEO, Unit­ed Ther­a­peu­tics Cor­po­ra­tion

George Scan­gos, PhD, CEO, Vir Biotech­nol­o­gy

John A. Scar­lett, MD, Chair­man and CEO, Geron Cor­po­ra­tion

Ran­dall C. Schatz­man, PhD, Pres­i­dent and CEO, Bolt Ther­a­peu­tics

Jim Sci­bet­ta, CEO, Mav­er­ick

Paul J. Sekhri, Pres­i­dent and CEO, eGe­n­e­sis

RA Ses­sion II, Pres­i­dent, CEO, Founder, Taysha Gene Ther­a­pies

Lau­ra Shawver, CEO, Sil­ver­back Ther­a­peu­tics

Clay B. Sie­gall, PhD, Pres­i­dent and CEO, Seagen

Nan­cy Si­mon­ian, MD, CEO, Sy­ros Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals

Eri­ka R. Smith, CEO, ReNetX Bio

Jean-Pierre Som­ma­dos­si, PhD, Chair­man and CEO, Atea Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals

Robert Tep­per, Part­ner, Third Rock Ven­tures

Arthur Tzian­a­bos, PhD, Pres­i­dent and CEO, Ho­mol­o­gy Med­i­cines

Michel Vounatsos, CEO, Bio­gen

Rick E. Win­ning­ham, Chair­man and CEO, Ther­a­vance Bio­phar­ma US

Michael Yang, Pres­i­dent and CEO, Vi­a­Cyte

Brad­ford A. Za­kes, Pres­i­dent, CEO and Chair­man Cerev­ast Med­ical

Want to sign your name to this let­ter? Reach out to man­ag­ing ed­i­tor Kyle Blanken­ship at kyle@end­pointsnews.com.

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Graphic: Kathy Wong for Endpoints News

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Hal Barron (GSK via YouTube)

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Martin Shkreli (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

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