BIO Separates from China’s WuXi AppTec Amid National Security Concerns

U.S. Capitol_iStock, Mikhail Makarov

Pictured: U.S. Capitol building in Washington, DC/iStock, Mikhail Makarov

Trade group Biotechnology Industry Organization announced Wednesday that it is cutting ties with WuXi AppTec as the lobby takes steps to “separate” from the China-based biotech.

Wednesday’s decision comes after a congressional committee recently blasted the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) for allegedly lobbying on behalf of WuXi AppTec.

Last week, Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), chairman of the Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, pressed Attorney General Merrick Garland regarding BIO, which Gallagher claimed to have “undertaken a recent advocacy campaign against the BIOSECURE Act.” Introduced in January 2024, the BIOSECURE Act aims to guarantee that taxpayer money isn’t used to help fund “foreign adversary biotech companies” posing threats to U.S. national security.

According to Gallagher’s letter to Garland, BIO’s lobbying “advances the interest of the Chinese Communist Party” and “raises concerns that it is operating as an unregistered agent of a foreign principal.”

Gallagher’s allegations against BIO stem from a February 2024 communication from BIO to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which according to the Republican congressman “obscures the nature of WuXi AppTec and downplays its national security risk profile despite credible evidence to the contrary.”

In response to Gallagher’s allegations, BIO in Wednesday’s announcement reaffirmed its commitment to national security. CEO John Crowley in a statement said that biotech is a “vital strategic asset” for the U.S., which is key to protecting public health, responding to future pandemics and projecting “abroad the principles and benefits of a free and democratic society.”

“Our adversaries abroad have stated that they intend to become the biotechnology center of excellence in the world,” Crowley said. “America and our allies cannot let this happen. Securing and advancing our preeminence in biomanufacturing will be one key component of a multi-prong approach to secure and advance this strategic imperative in biotechnology.”

In addition to separating from WuXi AppTec, BIO will now openly support the BIOSECURE Act and will cooperate with Congress as the legislation progresses. The trade group said it will also “work with policymakers on both sides of the aisle” to ensure that the industry’s biomanufacturing and distribution capacity can supply patients with the medicines they need.

Though headquartered in China, WuXi AppTec is a “global company” with presence in Europe and North America, according to its website. It provides R&D and manufacturing services—such as integrated drug discovery for gene therapies and contract research services—to pharmaceutical companies.

In February 2024, WuXi AppTec posted an open letter addressing what it calls the “misguided U.S. legislative initiative to target our company without a fair and transparent review of the facts.” The biotech denies being a national security threat to any country.

On Tuesday, a day before BIO's announcement, WuXi AppTec informed BIO that it was voluntarily  ending its membership with the trade group due to "misinformed efforts ... maligning our membership in BIO" that could derail the group's efforts to represent the industry.

"We believe that a voluntary separation from BIO at this time will allow BIO to continue focusing on educating policymakers, raising awareness among the public, and advocating for the industry – which, as this episode demonstrates, is of critical importance," the letter read.

Tristan Manalac is an independent science writer based in Metro Manila, Philippines. Reach out to him on LinkedIn or email him at tristan@tristanmanalac.com or tristan.manalac@biospace.com.

Correction (March 15): On Thursday, BIO amended its PR to clarify that WuXi AppTec has proactively ended its membership in the organization. BioSpace was also able to view WuXi AppTec's letter to BIO terminating its affiliation. The headline of this story was changed to more accurately reflect these facts, and excerpts from the letter were added. 

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