US-based BIO looking for new leadership after challenging period

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New leadership for US-based BIO after the departure of its CEO in response to what has been reported as conflict over the association's direction.

BIO, which represents biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, is one of the most high-profile advocacy groups in the US. Its annual conference attracts around 20,000 people, including hundreds from Australia, and is considered one of the largest events in the US.

In a statement, the organisation said D Michelle McMurry-Heath has stepped down as president and CEO to serve as an advisor to the executive committee of the BIO Board of Directors. The organisation said Rachel King, the co-founder and former CEO of GlycoMimetics, will serve as interim CEO while it searches for a full-time successor.

BIO, its counterpart PhRMA and the entire US-based life sciences industry, have endured a challenging period with the Biden administration securing congressional support for prescription medicines reform that will enable federal government agencies to negotiate prices.

A report in The Wall Street Journal said Dr McMurry-Heath's departure followed clashes with some board members over BIO's direction.

"Some members have wanted BIO to engage more on general social issues not directly connected to healthcare policy, while she felt the organization’s advocacy should stay focused on biotech," it said, adding some board members had also "expressed concerns about her performance and management style.

"BIO has conducted a review of her job performance, some people familiar with the matter said. Some of those people questioned whether the review was fair," added the report.