According to Jeanne Haggerty, director of federal relations for the Washingtonbased Biotechnology Industry Organization, the “looming” fiscal cliff is a real concern and if “a lame-duck session of Congress doesn’t act to avoid the cliff, it could cost the state of Michigan 31,000 jobs, drastically slow approval for new drugs and medical devices, and eliminate billions in research grants.” Haggerty delivered her remarks in a session titled “Federal Policy Update: What Now for Pharma?” on November 8, 2012, at the eighth annual MichBio Expo.

Apparently, Haggerty doubts that the lame-duck session and the Obama administration will be able to come to a permanent agreement before the January 2, 2013, deadline and thinks that a temporary agreement will be reached that will delay the economy falling off the cliff until spring. “What they will likely do is punt it until the end of March. They’ll agree on a sequestration bridge,” she said. “That will give time for new members of Congress to come in.”

According to a news source, the law that was passed calling for sequestration if an agreement could not be reached on tax policy and budget cuts also called for funding to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be cut by 8.2 percent each.

Haggerty said that the NIH cuts would total about $2.5 billion and eliminate 2,100 research grants, including 300 through the National Cancer Institute. These cuts would hit Michigan particularly hard. Its three major research universities, the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Wayne State University, and many of its researchers rely on NIH grants to fund their work and lab help. She also estimated that FDA would lose $320 million, resulting in 1,000 layoffs at the agency, already a target of criticism by researchers and executives at biotech startups for its slow pace in approving new drugs or devices. See, November 8, 2012.