Posted by: Audrey Erbes | April 23, 2017

Trump Makes Another Attempt to Pass Revised Trumpcare

Trump Presses To Deliver Healthcare Revision Again

Here we go again! Trumpcare revisited as the President worries about the approach of his first 100 days in office without delivering the repeal and replacement of Obamacare.  Two Republican lawmakers, Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina and Chair of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, and Rep. Tom MacArthur of New Jersey, a co-Chair of the moderate Tuesday Group are supposedly working on changes for ObamaCare replacement bill.

“According to a summary of the amendment obtained by Politico and confirmed to The Hill by MacArthur’s office, states would have the option to apply for waivers to opt out of some of ObamaCare’s core requirements. One of the limited waivers would allow insurers to charge higher premiums for people with pre-existing conditions as long as the state also offered high-risk pool coverage. The measure would also allow states to repeal ObamaCare’s essential health benefits, which define the minimum benefits a plan can offer, including mental healthcare and prescription drugs.”

The change that might deliver more conservatives to approve Trumpcare would likely reduce support of moderate Republicans. Many in the Republican conference wanted to maintain ObamaCare’s protection for people with pre-existing conditions and many moderates also pledged to protect that provision at town halls over the recess. (Source “Moderate, conservative GOP leaders say they are nearing healthcare deal, by Peter Sullivan, The Hill, April 20, 2017 at

Republicans have their hands full with preventing government shutdown next week so are not likely to want to undertake another potential defeat of health care legislation. Meanwhile the President is also promising tax reform in a hurry while legislators predict end of the year timeframe. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says tax bill will be done by year end. (Source: “Mnuchin Says Tax Overhaul Will Happen by Year’s End,” by Lynnley Browning and Saleha Mohsin, April 20, 2017, Bloomberg, at

The President obviously doesn’t have a clue about the hard work of getting laws written, revised and passed and the time it takes. He likes laws by fiat or executive orders which he enjoys signing in front of cameras with large flourish of his marking pen.

Highlights of Bioscience Meetings Week of April 23, 2017

  • PBSS Symposium, Monday, April 24, 2017, Topic: “Mechanistic Drug Metabolism for Drug Candidate Optimization – A Mini-symposium for Medicinal Chemists and DMPK Scientists,” Organizers: Cyrus Khojasteh and Donglu Zhang (Genentech)
  • Bio2Device Group, Tuesday Morning, April 25, 2017, Topic: “A Clinical Trial Roadmap: Who, What, When, and How – Practices, Perspectives and Personal Insights,” Speaker: David Larwood, CEO,Valley Fever Solutions
  • BioScience Forum, Wednesday Evening, April 26, 2017. Topic: “The Right Medicine for the Right Patient – Challenges and Opportunities of Precision Medicine,” Speaker: Dietmar Berger, M.D., Ph.D., Senior Vice President, Global Head of Clinical Development for Hematology/Oncology Product Development, Roche/Genentech
  • WIB, Thursday Evening, April 27, 2017, Topic: “Hot Trends in Personalized Medicine,” Panel: Moderator, Amy Swanson, Illumina; Jackie Benson, J&J Innovations; Tara Maddala, Grail;Kristin McDonald Gibson, Invitae; Pam Garzone, Pfizer

You can download the details for the upcoming events this week and those through June 2017 with Audreys Picks April 23, 2017 FIN. You can download Jobs That Crossed My Desk Through April 23, 2017as well.


Posted by: Audrey Erbes | April 10, 2017

Revised Trumpcare Doesn’t Gain Traction

Revised Trump Care Doesn’t  Gain Traction

For a brief time last week, Paul Ryan tried to resuscitate effort to pass revised version of Trumpcare. The even more unsatisfactory bill died quickly.

Meanwhile Tom Price is in action trying to turn back healthcare in other ways to achieve budget cuts for the wealthy off backs of middle class and working class citizens. Efforts to attack women’s health care and reproductive rights and reduce Planned Parenthood services are central. These guys don’t get the value of Planned Parenthood providing trusted services for women across the country which for-profit providers don’t provide.

Highlights of This Week’s Bay Area Life Science Events

  • Bio2Device Group, Tuesday Evening, April 11, 2017, Topic: ”Integrated, Intelligent SmartDermal™ Therapeutics,” Speaker: Patrick Ruane, Ph.D., Senior VP Research and Development, Chrono Therapeutics
  • CLSA, Tuesday MidDay, April 11, 2017, Event: “Lunch & Learn – Common Stock Valuations: Myths and Reality,” Speakers: Angela Rusakova, Lead Client Service and Audit Partner; Camron Uhr, Managing Director, Deloitte Transactions and Business Analytics LLP
  • WIB, Wednesday Evening, April 12, 2017, Subject: WIB-National Webinar “Risky Business: Mitigating Risk in the Life Sciences,” Speaker: Gretchen Stup, Sr. Consultant at Latham Biopham Group

You can download the details for the upcoming events this week and those through June 2017 with Audreys Picks April 10, 2017.


Republican Administration Seeks Major Cuts in Public Health Agency Budgets

The Trump administration continues to mercilessly pound agency budgets. The deadline of April 28 for approving the continuing 2017 budget resolution will likely prevent the proposed cuts for this fiscal year for health agency budget. Congress is most likely to pass a budget resolution extending the current budget for the remainder of the fiscal year.

The proposed health agency cuts proposed by the Trump administration for the balance of fiscal 2017 would slash $1.23 billion from the NIH’s budget, cut $40 million from the FDA’s budget and $50 million from the CMS and $314 million from the CDC. This effort as already noted is unlikely to pass due to time constraints to modify the bill by the deadline. But this level of cuts portends what is likely to come in the 2018 budget.

“Trump Calls For NIH, FDA Cuts In Fy17,” by Steve Usdin, BioCentury,

Last week the Senate took away protections to Title IX funding of family planning instituted by President Obama with the tie breaking vote cast by VP Pence. Title X is a federal program dedicated solely to family planning with more than 4 million people relying on it for preventive health care. The Senate voted Friday to overturn those protections.

The tide is shifting regarding ideology regarding the role of government. There is a moderate wing of House Republicans that recognizes their constituents see health care as a right. The moderate Republicans certainly recognize from their recent experience on the Trumpcare bill fiasco that their constituents want universal health care.

California Renews Efforts to Pass Single Payer System

A single-payer health care system is not a new idea in California. A bill was passed to that effect a decade ago but Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed the bill. While there is support for such coverage there are also hurdles to overcome. Key provisions include:

  • Inpatient, outpatient, emergency care, dental, vision, mental health and nursing home care
  • No co-pays or insurance deductibles
  • Ability to choose your own doctor from a huge list of health care providers rather than an insurer’s network

Hurdles are financial and political. Governor Jerry Brown can’t see where the money would come from. Wiithout Federal support to provide Medicare and Medicaid funding, there wouldn’t be sufficient funds. Taxpayers would have to agree to pay mandated costs in form of higher taxes in place of health insurance. Organizations that propose limited government see such a plan as a utopian socialist plan.

Health care delivery corporations who have taken over organizing delivery of care from single physicians who once were overwhelming majority of doctors delivering care. This structure in past has been replaced by doctors who are on staff of these health care delivery organizations. Their business model is that of a for profit corporation that seeks to raise rates each year to show increasing profits to their shareholders. This is a “market” based model which the USA has developed alongside mostly single payer systems in other highly developed democracies. Citizens might reject the idea of “socialist” basis which opponents have used successfully for many years.  Or be afraid of losing prompt access to physicians which single payer systems can experience waiting lists are created to accommodate insufficient services for nonemergency care.

Source: House bill SB562 entitled Healthy California Act was introduced by Sen. Ricardo Lara and Sen. Toni Atkins. The full text is available at

Chuck Todd provided interesting data on Meet the Press today showing that there are 24 moderate Republicans who recognize their constituents’ needs and wishes regarding the role of government are not in alignment with the Freedom Caucus members nor other house Republicans.

Other Congress people are planning to submit bills to Congress which would mean supporting the system as a nation. This seems unlikely with current control by Republicans but perhaps Bernie Sanders’ planned bill Medicare for all might shake loose interest from moderate Republicans.

When Charles Krauthammer writes in his Sunday editorial today that in the end, a single payer system will win out, I have hope that the tide has turned. Bernie Sanders’ new bill just might have a chance.

Action Items

  • Donate to Planned Parenthood to support this organization against the assaults of congressmen who don’t understand the value of Planned Parenthood in providing basic health care for millions of low income or those without health insurance. Planned Parenthood provides services efficiently and economically versus for profit health care institutions that don’t serve working class women with these services at affordable price.
  • Attend meeting about Single Payer Health Care in CA, Wednesday, April 5, 7:00 pm.

Location: Woodside Road United Methodist Church, 2000 Woodside Rd. Redwood City, Redwood City, CA 94061

Description: San Mateo County Democracy for America is proud to present Dr. Paul Song — a physician, progressive activist and member of the executive board of Physicians for a National Health Program — for updates about the new legislation for universal healthcare.Discover how California can show the rest of the country the way to provide excellent healthcare for less money and what we can do to help!Free Admission – Wheelchair Accessible
This monthly meeting is open to the public. For questions please contact Carole Dorshkind – or 650-766-2162

Details and registration at

Bay Area Life Science Events Week of April 2, 2017

  • QB3, Monday MidDay, April 3, 2017, Topic: “How Federal Politics Impact Funding for Science and Startups, Speaker: Ryan Davison, government affairs manager at the American Chemical Society in Washington, DC
  • JLABS, Thursday, April 6, 2017, Event: MedTech Innovator 2017: JLABS Pitch Event
  • Triple Ring Technologies, Thursday Evening, April 6, 2017, Topic: “The Future of Immuno-Neurology,” Speaker:Rich Casey, CEO, Neuraltus Pharmaceuticals

You can download the details for the upcoming events this week and those through June 2017 with Audreys Picks April 2 2017.


Posted by: Audrey Erbes | March 26, 2017

Trumpcare Goes Down in Defeat

Was the Defeat Of Trumpcare a Rookie Mistake or Disregard of Constituent Needs?

The American Health Care Act or Trumpcare never got to the starting line for a vote in the House. The Affordable Care Act, despite some flaws that could be mended by a nonpartisan Congress, continues in place. Trump blames the Democrats for not supporting its passage but also threatened to take down our current health care while Health agency is under the control of his appointed director Tom Price. #45’s total self-absorption makes it impossible for him to care about what is best for the American people or even understand what is at stake. His disregard for citizens along with total ignorance of governing and even knowing how legislation is brought to floor for vote were other factors in this big defeat.

President Trump doesn’t understand that his pugnacious approach to business deals doesn’t fit a democratic arena and House Speaker Ryan doesn’t understand what may be good for his Republican political career may not be effective in governing for the people. Despite his promises to deliver a vote on the American Health Care Act right up until the last moment, Trump’s threats and speaking from the bully pulprit didn’t convince the moderate Congressional Republicans to drop their concerns about facing their constituencies in 2018 nor the far right fail to move from their narrow ideology of spending money on the “other” being unacceptable. It was the cruel naiveté of the final bill—which offered to eliminate the ten essential health benefits—and unrealistic expectation that there were enough votes in the Republican party to carry it across the finish line that condemned passage of the bill.

The new administration and Speaker Paul Ryan tried to rush through a terrible piece of legislation that the majority of Americans oppose. “Their bill would have stripped health care away from millions of Americans and ended Medicaid as we know it. It would have taken us back to the days when insurance companies could choose not to cover essential health benefits like maternity or mental health coverage.” Source: Jim Messina, Co-Chair Organizing for Action

Remember that this defeat won’t eliminate the threat of Trump seeking revenge on the Affordable Care Act through a slow death under his administration. We must fight on for an improved ACA or better still Medicare for all to bring the USA to the standard of the Western world. The response of Americans to the heartless AHCA reminds us we now have an opportunity to work on eliminating the power of the top wealthy citizens who don’t share our historic values or believe in looking after our neighbors. There is much to do but an aware populace can achieve much.

Bioscience Events in Bay Area Week of March 26, 2017

  • Bio2Device Group, Tuesday Morning, March 28, 2017, Topic: “BioNews and Open Forum Discussions,” Speaker: Harry Wachob, President & Founder of B2DG
  • JLABS, Tuesday Morning, March 28, 2017, Topic: “Meet with …MPM Capital ”Program Overview,” Speakers: Vinay Bhaskar, Ph.D., Principal with MPM Capital;Luke Evnin | Managing Director, MPM Capital
  • Biomedical Engineering Society, Wednesday, March 29, 2017, Event: 8th Annual Bay Area Biomedical Device Conference-Medical Devices in the Connected World
  • Bioscience Forum, Wednesday Evening, March 29, 2017, Topic: “Leveraging Biotech’s Novel Platforms to Tackle Global Health: A Unique Business Model to Overcome Financial Barriers,” Speaker: Eric Easom,Vice President Neglected Disease R&D, Anacor Pharmaceuticals (Acquired by Pfizer June, 2016)
  • Biomedical Engineering Society, Wednesday, March 29, 2017, Event: 8th Annual Bay Area Biomedical Device Conference-Medical Devices in the Connected World
  • PBSS Workshop, Thursday Afternoon, March 30 2017, Event: “Best CMC Practices for Successful Drug Development and Commercialization: Leveraging QbD and risk-based strategies for efficient CMC development,” Speakers: Prabu Nambiar, Edward Ciolkowski, James Bush (Syner-G Pharma Consulting)
  • AWIS NCC Workshop, Saturday, April 1, 2017, Workshop: “Leadership by Design: Using Design Thinking to transform your Career,” Workshop Leader: Christopher Ireland

You can download the details for the upcoming events this week and those through June 2017 with Audreys Picks March 26 2017and Jobs That Crossed My Desk Through March 26, 2017



Posted by: Audrey Erbes | March 19, 2017

Is Health Care a Right or Privilege?

Take Action to Stop Slick Political Propaganda to Repeal and Replace ACA

The ACLU says it well in condemning the Repeal of the Affordable Care Act with a replacement that is not affordable for majority of ever poorer Americans ( a group that gets larger every year) across the nation:

  • Millions of Americans would lose coverage
  • It would gut Medicaid to the tune of $880 billion—harming people with disabilities who rely on Medicaid for essential services
  • It would block Medicaid patients from seeking care at Planned Parenthood—restricting access to cancer screenings, breast exams and STI tests and treatments, and forcing health centers to close.
  • It would attack women’s ability to buy private insurance that covers abortion.Source: In Hands Off Our Healthcare: Don’t Repeal The ACA the ACLU states its case at

Why is the ACLU so involved in this fight to prevent the American Health Care Act from being passed? Because health care is a civil right in all advanced democratic countries with exception of U.S. under Republicans who are too cheap to spend needed money to provide quality health care plan for all Americans. Those in power continue to espouse ideology that gives more money out of the pockets of hard working taxpayers to the extremely wealthy, large corporations and market-based health care system companies that enrich themselves at the expense of quality care for all. Paul Ryan is so excited about the American Health Care Act because it fulfills his dream since his frat days—to stop supporting poor people with needed health care. ) Paul Ryan doesn’t believe health care is a universal right but rather a privilege that can be removed when the cost is too high in his mind and those of his like-minded brothers.

Those opposed to universal health care have used fear-based ideology in past to deny Americans same quality of preventive and therapeutic care that other foreign nations provide their citizens as “socialist”, claim such a system would destroy choice for patients, and would place too much power in hands of governments. The propaganda that patients want to control their own choices so much that they would choose not to have mandated insurance to provide care when needed and that “access” is the most important value even if the accessible plans are unaffordable. Access is worthless if one can’t afford the price of insurance under plan that gives expensive alternative choices and eliminates the needed subsidies to pay for that more expensive policy. Just as the new proposed budget is heartless, the American Health Care Act is a cruel joke on our citizenry.  And especially so for the population in rural red states that voted forThrump, the biggest con man of them all.

“Repealing the ACA threatens our civil rights and liberties and harms millions of vulnerable people.” Tell your members of Congress to oppose the American Health Care Act and remember the need to bring relief to the suffering and least able to protect themselves from slick talking politicians.

Action Item

Go to

And follow suggestions for contacting your representatives and voice your opinion about repeal of ACA without equivalent or better health care. We have to communicate the sham nature of the propaganda in behalf of huge tax cuts to the wealthy and increased income for the middle men health care companies  that run our “market” health care.

Highlights of Bioscience Events Week of March 19, 2017

  • HBA, Monday Evening, March 20, 2017, Fireside Chat: The Future of Medicine with Former NBC Medical Journalist Dr. Nancy Snyderman, Featured speakers: Nancy Snyderman, Consulting global health professor, former otolaryngologist, former chief medical editor, Stanford University; Jennifer Lovejoy, Chief science officer, Arivale; Ramji Srinivasan, Chief executive officer, Counsyl; Darren Brown, Executive vice president, employee benefits, ABD Insurance & Financial Services
  • EPPICon 2017, Saturday, March 25, 2017. Event: 11th Annual flagship event of EPPIC Global, Keynote Speakers: Ira Mellman, PhD (Genentech) and D. J. Patil (Chief Data Scientist, White House Office of Science and Technology)
  • CABS, Saturday Afternoon, March 25, 2017, Topic: “Precision Medicine for oncology and immunology”

You can download the details for the upcoming events this week and those through June 2017 with Audreys Picks March 19 2017.




FDA Commissioner Pick Preferred to Other Potential Candidates

In “Stand Up For Science” written by Steve Usdin, Washington Editor, BioCentury this week, we learn how little the industry has done to speak up for value of science and sense. Some of the Trump Administration’s potential candidates alongside talk of totally upending the proven drug approval system were met with chagrin by many and still pose very serious risks even with the appointment of Scott Gottlieb, a past conservative high-level employee of the FDA under the George W. Bush administration and supporter of deregulation. He is expected to be approved but industry is still not out of the woods from crazy thinking by the cost slashing army of Trump and far-right anti-science politicians. The agency still faces potential budget reductions and political attacks on the wisdom and decision-making of the agency’s professionals.  Steve Usdin advises “The Risks Are That Two Decades Of Progress Toward More Efficient, Science-Based Regulation Would Stop” and be replaced with approval of drugs with only Phase I studies and market force controlled review alone.

Usdin reports that the industry abdicated its responsibility to be involved in stating the “criteria for an acceptable FDA commissioner, to commit itself to rally support for any nominee who meets those criteria and to adamantly oppose one who falls short.” Rather they remained silent and sat on the sidelines. So far we are lucky with Gottlieb who is still viewed as too close to industry due to his venture capital history but at least he is physician with agency experience. Note that his approval is not assured as Trump listens to Peter Thiel who recommended a poorly qualified candidate for the job, Jim O’Neill. (

Now Trumpcare Has Arrived, Is It Passable? 

The Republican American Health Care Act known as Trumpcare was quickly put together without the care and concern needed to develop a program that would deliver on the President’s campaign promises of a better, more affordable plan for everybody. The big elephant in the room is how to finance this campaign promise from a party ideologically not committed to provide care for our poorer citizens. Trumpcare  simply stated “covers fewer Americans, increases costs for low-income and senior citizens, increases the deficit, defunds Planned Parenthood and does next to nothing to reduce overall health care costs.” The San Jose Mercury editorial of March 9th summarizes the rushed GOP health care plan as a disaster. (

California will suffer huge lost payments from the Federal government as will other states which expanded Medicaid. “By a conservative estimate, the state stands to receive $8 billion less a year from the federal government to cover its health care costs for low-income families qualifying for Medi-Cal.” The rich will stand to gain huge tax reductions and the poor will lose coverage. Tom Price doesn’t understand or, maybe does, but doesn’t care that low income folks can’t use promised tax credits to replace lost subsidies under Obamacare. The cost of health care is being shifted to the individuals and taxpayers who are least able to pay for it. Trumpcare is a path to destroying Medicaid which reached so many poorer Americians.

 Highlights of Bay Area Bioscience Events Week of March 12, 2017

  • UCSC Clinical Trials Course: March 13-17, 2017, Event: Clinical Trials Essentials: An Intensive One-Week Course, Event Dates: Monday March 13- Friday, March 17 2017
  • Bio2Device Group, Tuesday Evening, March 14, 2017, Topic: “Brink of Catastrophe: Catching Addiction Early,” Speaker: David Deacon, CEO, DxRx Inc
  • WIB, Thursday Evening, March 16, 2017, Event: WIB-San Francisco Bay Area Women’s History Month Event: Leveraging Partnerships in the Growing Immuno-Oncology Space; Moderator: Stacy Feld, VP, Consumer Venture Investments & External Innovation, J&J Innovation – JJDC; Panelists: Julie Hambleton, MD, VP and Head of US Medical, Bristol-Myers Squibb; Sylvaine Cases, PhD, VP of Oncology Scientific Innovation, Janssen R&D and J&J Innovation;Jane Grogan, PhD, Head of Adaptive Tumor Immunity and Principal Scientist, Genentech
  • CABS, Saturday Afternoon, March 18, 2017, Topic: “NGS for cancer and autoimmune diseases”

You can download the details for the upcoming events this week and those through April 2017 with Audreys Picks March 12, 2017.


Republican Efforts to Steam Roll Repeal and Replace Obamacare Hitting Obstacles

The Republican leadership, especially, Paul Ryan has been almost gleeful about their party’s positioning right now to achieve their economic programs which seek to turn the clock back on liberal social programs and other trends they want to reverse under their leadership. They may do some unfortunate things in their attempt to stop the inevitable trends in the U.S. but they aren’t expected to succeed in the end. They can’t take away health insurance from 32 million Americans without some consequences to their political viability.

Taking healthcare entitlement programs back to earlier times with far less people insured, higher prices for the least able to pay for it, poorer quality healthcare for all and higher death rates due to poor quality health care is not likely in the end. Once Americans like a program we know historically the Congress can’t take it away. “The chaos surrounding Republican efforts to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act illustrates just how difficult this rollback would be. The idea of repealing the ACA first and coming up with a replacement later died quickly, forcing Republicans to confront the fact that they cannot agree on what the new plan should be. Some want to keep the Medicaid expansion, some balk at requiring higher deductibles, some worry about reducing subsidies, and many fear political damage from throwing millions of people off health insurance. The disunity of the repeal forces is so palpable that former House Speaker John Boehner, who once led the charge to repeal the ACA, now admits that repeal is “not going to happen” and that “most of the framework of the Affordable Care Act” will remain in place.”(Source: Things look bleak for liberals now. But they’ll beat Trump in the end. He and his movement will fade, and the values and priorities of the left will eventually triumph by Ruy Teixeira, Washington Post, March 3, 2017 at

Highlights of Bay Area Life Science Events for Week of March 5, 2017

  • JLABS, Tuesday Morning, March 7, 2017, Topic: “Value of Biotechnology Business,” Speaker: John Selig | Managing Partner, Mavericks Capital
  • BMES and B2Device Group, Tuesday Evening, March 7, 2017, Event: BMES and B2DG for a Happy Hour

You can download the details for the upcoming events this week and those through May 2017 with audreys-picks-march-5-2017.


Posted by: Audrey Erbes | February 25, 2017

Healthcare in Tumultuous Times

Healthcare in Tumultuous Times

It seems that Republican Congresspersons are recognizing that their constituents mostly want Obamacare and certainly don’t want it repealed without replacement with program of equal or greater quality. The local constituent and Indivisible-inspired voter protests this past week while Congressmen and Congresswomen are home for break has aroused strong complaints about representatives not doing their job, not standing up to Trump and in some cases having disappeared and/or refusing to meet with their constituents or hold town hall meetings. The Trump Administration has declared these protests as Democratic inspired or not representing constituents but rather being paid protestors. Constituents haven’t agreed with this characterization of their attempts to speak with representatives and get their questions answered.

The Paul Ryan plan for Obamacare and Medicaid is not what constituents want. “It’s a cobbled-together mess that slashes Medicaid expansion funding, relies on mysterious tax credits to finance health care for a lucky few and does NOTHING to protect people with pre-existing conditions.” (Karli Wallace Thompson, Campaign Manager Democracy for America email Feb. 23. 2017


Highlights of Bay Area Life Science Events Week of Feb. 26, 2017

  • Bio2Device Group, Tuesday Morning, Feb. 28, 2017, Topic: “Machine Learning as the Backbone for Predictive Failure Analytics of Devices,” Speaker: Ramki Pitchuiyer , Founder and CEO, eKryp
  • HBA Webinar, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017, Webinar – Creating a Feedback-Rich Culture, Featured speakers: Juliana Wood, Assoc. director online learning resources, Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association; Deborah Riegel, Principal and director of learning, The Boda Group; Priya Nalkur-Pai, Leadership coach,The Boda Group
  • Palo Alto AWIS, Tuesday Evening, Feb. 28, 2017, Topic: “Inside the World of Engineering and Scientific Consulting ,” Speakers: Meredith Sellers, PhD, is a Managing Engineer, Farzana Ansari, PhD, is an Associate and Jenny Irwin is a University Recruiting Manager in Human Resources
  • GGPF, Wednesday Evening, March 1, 2017, Topic: “Blocky Functionalization of Thermo-Reversible sPS and PEEK Gels,” Speaker: Prof. Robert B. Moore, Dept. of Chemistry, Virginia Tech

You can download the details for the upcoming events this week and those through April 2017 with audreys-picks-feb-26-2017.


Posted by: Audrey Erbes | February 19, 2017

Congress  Expected Act on Healthcare Policy Changes Soon

Understanding Republican Ideas on Healthcare Programs

Tom Price has been approved as head of Health and Human Services so we can expect that agency’s activities affecting life science and healthcare soon. Paul Ryan has already talked about movements against Obamacare coming this next week. We know Tom Price has larger plans beyond Obamacare replacement including changing Medicare from current status to one with vouchers. Remember the Republican background strategy is to wring out large sums of money from entitlement programs to fund their other initiatives. McConnell just spoke about liking Trump’s position on cutting taxes—that’s code for we are using his popularity to provide major tax cuts to higher income Americans and corporations. Company taxes are to be cut from 35% to 20% while Trump wants a lower number of 15%.

Be alert to the use of propaganda to push their party’s money-saving ideas with entitlement programs taking the brunt of the reductions.  Paul Ryan spoke about Republicans not wanting “government-run” healthcare but rather “patient-centered healthcare” while others refer to government-run program as socialism. “Patient-centered healthcare that gets everybody access to affordable healthcare coverage, so that they can buy whatever they want to buy,” Speaker Ryan tells Interviewer on recent 60 Minutes show. (

“Patient-centered” doesn’t mean better health care focused on patient needs but is code for there will be more of the costs passed on to the patient. Earlier attacks on a single-payer healthcare system used the American Medical Association members opposition to potentially losing their status as businessmen running single-doctor practice or multiple-doctor practice. This business model for doctors is now becoming history as more doctors today work for profit-making health care provider corporations including hospitals called “providers.”  The big profit now goes to these providers.  The majority of physicians are now employees. “The American Medical Association reported in its 2012 Practice Benchmark Survey that a slight majority (53 percent) of physicians owned their practices, down from 61 percent in 2007/2008; 42 percent of physicians were employees, and 5 percent were independent contractors.1 ….More recent data from the September 2014 Survey of America’s Physicians: Practice Patterns and Perspectives, conducted by Merritt Hawkins for The Physicians Foundation, indicate that only 35 percent of all physicians identify as independent.2 Among family medicine physicians, the rate drops to 31 percent. “

There is great variety across states with the bottom ten states ranging from 7 to 24 percent independent MDs.Source: The Physician Employment Trend,at

Obamacare was making large strides toward lowering the tax payer cost of healthcare while expanding services not lowering them as the Price plan will do.

Single-payer health care isn’t new in California. Senator Sheila Kuehl’s single-payer bills that passed the Legislature in 2006 and 2008 were vetoed by then Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The San Jose Mercury News front page story on Feb. 18, 2017 entitled “Is State Ready to Go It Alone? highlights efforts to establish a single-payer plan in California to cover 38 million Californians, including undocumented residents.  State Senators Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens and Toni Atkins, D-San Diego coauthored Healthy California Act 562 a new government health care system. The major obstacle to achieving is this whether or not California will still receive the $22 billion in federal funding provided to cover private insurance subsidies.

Suggestions for Action for this Week

1) Head to to find a town hall in your area. At

2) Use Resistance Recess to find a town hall or rally near you, along with talking points specific to fighting for health care while representatives are home on recess. At

3) If you can’t attend a meeting or make a personal visit, give your representative a call. At

 What to Ask For

1) Demand that your representatives protect Medicaid. Republicans have long been advocating to turn Medicaid into a block-grant program. Block-granting is an old idea that was already used to gut welfare and would almost certainly mean major cuts. You can read more about the tactic in a 2014 article from The Nation by Mike Konczal and Bryce Covert. At

2) Fight for a real alternative to the Affordable Care Act: Medicare For All. Representative John Conyers recently introduced HR 676, the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act, a bill that would implement a single-payer “Medicare For All” system. Tell members of the House of Representatives to co-sponsor the bill and to advocate for it publicly and loudly. For more ways to get involved, check out Medicare4All or sign up for the Campaign for Guaranteed Healthcare

3) Defend the gains of the Affordable Care Act. While nowhere near perfect, the ACA has made coverage possible for more than 20 million people and cut the uninsured rate by nearly half. Tell your representatives that we can NOT go backwards. Resistance Recess provides talking points for defending the program.

Highlights of Upcoming Bay Area Bioscience Events

  • JLABS, Tuesday Morning, Feb. 21, 2017; Topic: “The Basics of Managing the Board;” Speaker: Carol Sands | Founder and Managing Member, The Angels’ Forum
  • Bio2Device Group Morning meeting, Feb. 21, 2017 Cancelled.
  • QB3, Tuesday Afternoons, Feb. 21, 28, March 7 & 14, 2017, Program: “QB3’s Berkeley SBIR workshop: The Art, Science, and Politics of Writing a Successful SBIR Proposal,” Instructor: Gabrielle G. Leblanc, Ph.D.
  • ASQ Biomedical Division NCDG, Wednesday Evening, Feb. 22, 2017, Topic: “CER: Controlled Environment Rooms – Validating & Operating for Medical Devices,” Speaker: Featured Speaker: Thomas Lypka;Moderator: Gary Seeger
  • BioScience Forum, Wednesday Evening, Feb. 22, 2017, Topic: “Next Generation Circulating Tumor Cell (CTC) Technology and Oncology Drug Development: New Insights into Clonal Heterogeneity, Genomic Instability and Drug Responsiveness,” Speaker: Murali Krishna Prahalad, Ph.D., President & CEO,Epic Sciences, Inc
  • HBA Supper Club, Thursday Evening, Feb. 23, 2017
  • JLABS, Thursday Morning, Feb. 23, 2017; Event: Meet with… Mountain Group Partners and TriStar Health Partners; Speakers: Brian Laden, Co-founder & Managing Director, TriStar Health Partners;Joe Cook, III, Principal Partner, Mountain Group Partners
  • HBA Saturday Morning, Feb. 25, 2017, Event: “Meaningful Work: Finding Significance In Your Career with Cindy Miller PhD;” Featured speaker: Cindy Miller, Coach and organization development consultant, Cindy Miller Associates

You can download the details for the upcoming events this week and those through April 2017 with audreys-picks-feb-19-2017.


Posted by: Audrey Erbes | February 12, 2017

Assault on Obamacare, FDA Protections and Medicare Move Ahead

Assault on Obamacare, FDA Protections and Medicare Move Ahead

The future impact of the Trump administration on healthcare services and sales of life science industry products is still unknown but all stakeholders—insurance companies, physicians, hospitals, patients, drug and medical device companies are concerned. The successful approval of Tom Price yesterday by the Senate for Secretary of Health and Human Services adds another potential unsettling player to the mix. His previous role in House was clear cut. He was against Obamacare and had shown negative attitudes toward affordable health care services and women’s health care, specifically. His direction has been to save money by cutting expenditures for entitlement programs and shifting greater cost to the patient without concern that many Americans cannot afford the cost of system he envisions. The conservative Republican objective is probably at bottom of his thinking once again which is to free up money to provide more tax benefits to industry and wealthy.

The Republican approach to healthcare has underestimated the (1) popularity of Obamacare with the majority of Americans and the (2) latters’ fear of repealing ACA without replacing it with comparable or improved care and their (3) absolute disdain for plans to make Medicare a voucher program and/or increase age of eligibility. The Democratic approach was to make the US market-based health care system more cost efficient while it delivered better care to all Americans. They always preferred moving more toward Single Payer system which would cut costs by removing fat from corporate profits. The mandatory enrollment of all citizens provided a better distribution of the healthy and unhealthy, young and old that made a better health care system where all were sharing costs. It wasn’t perfect but was moving in right direction. No one had noticed that the ACA has portions that affect all citizens not just those with lower incomes and help with paying costs, not just the lower income ones. See “You might think the ferocious debate over repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act doesn’t affect you because you get your health insurance through work. Or you’re 65 and on Medicare.But on both counts, you’re dead wrong.” See article at

The turmoil at the beginning of Trump’s term has stirred up tempers and activism to level never seen before. Peaceful protests are a surprise to Trump and Bannon who prefer violent disagreements like that which occurred at UC Berkeley recently to which their response of sending in Federal troops is more fitting response for their thinking. Trump is a bully and loved to physically fight as he grew up. This behavior resulted in his being sent to military school as child. We saw this pugilistic side during the campaign when he encouraged supporters to beat up those in disagreement. He doesn’t know how to settle differences lawfully as demonstrated with his recent travel ban being overturned. He insists he will win out because that is what he wants and doesn’t care what is best for country. We knew his temperament was not fit to govern but bringing in equally unfit advisors is not helping matters.

It’s hard to predict how the Republican-controlled Congress will proceed. Will they continue to give Trump whatever he wants in order to maintain their political power, even if his acts are against the democratic values of our society? Some “adults” in their midst worry that they will become owners of a healthcare system in disaster—to be newly named “Trumpcare”—which will negatively affect their reelectability. Caving into international corporations as demonstrated in recent meeting between Trump and heads of large pharma companies to make deals to enrich them at cost of taxpayers doesn’t bode well for promises he made on campaign trail. He totally walked away from promises to achieve reduced drug pricing. We understand that Republicans are pushing for Right to Try laws which will remove protection from toxic drugs as well as preparing laws to change Medicare. We need to be ready to push back.

But we need to maintain hope that these times will pass. We have learned in the past two weeks that our actions are making a difference. Resistance to irrational decisions when done with overwhelming numbers seems to be basis for hope. We need to have patience but must be persistent in moving ahead.

Here are just a few signs of persistence supporting hope pointed out by Debra Ness of National Partnerships for Women and Families :

  • “Women and men around the world marched in solidarity — the largest Inauguration weekend protest in history — and continue to protest after each and every injustice;
  • More phone calls were made to the U.S. Capitol switchboard in recent days than at any other time in U.S. history — by nearly double;
  • Efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act have been chilled and delayed by public outrage, and opponents are in disarray;
  • The Trump administration has already reversed course on several ill-advised actions due to waves of activist opposition; and
  • The media are calling “alternative facts” what they are … lies “

We need to keep abreast of actions of agencies and representatives in order to resist their bad actions.

Overview of Bay Area Life Science Meetings Week of Feb. 12

  • Bio2Device Group and EPPIcon, Tuesday Evening, Feb. 14, 2017; Topic: “Immuno-oncology 2017 – The crux of the matter, the thrill of the chase,” Speaker: Alex Franzusoff, PhD, Senior Vice President, Research and Product Development, PACT Pharma, Inc
  • Codex, Wednesday Mid Day, Feb. 15, 2017; Topic: “Human Decisions and Machine Predictions;” Speaker: Prof. Jens Ludwig, Director, University of Chicago Crime Lab
  • HBA, Webinar, Wednesday Evening, Feb. 15, 2017; Event:”Webinar: Career Advice For Scientists and Other Smart Women;” Featured speakers: Linda Brock, Scientist, virology and immunology; Laura Rush,Executive director, clinical and translational research unit, Ohio University; Jennifer Cook, Head of pharma, Europe region; 2016 HBA Woman of the Year, Roche; Michele Holcomb, COO and senior vice president, portfolio, search and partnerships – global research and development, Teva Pharmaceuticals; Suzanne Schwartz, CDRH associate director for science and strategic partnerships, FDA
  • WIB-San Francisco Bay Area, Thursday Evening, Feb. 16, 2017, Topic: “Speed Networking at BD Biosciences”

You can download the details for the upcoming events this week and those through April 2017 with audreys-picks-feb-12-2017.


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