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The recent opening of the Shady Grove Life Sciences Park in Rockville provides another sign that Montgomery County is ready to become what some already call a "biotech version of Silicon Valley." The county where researchers helped decode the human genome is already home to more than 200 biotechnology companies, including many that make high-tech medicines called biologics.

Last year, biotech in the county generated combined revenues of $2.36 billion, according to the county's department of economic development, and employed more than 58,000 workers in private and public sectors. Yet the great promise of medical biotech for patients and for the Maryland economy is threatened by a little-noticed provision of health care reform: a provision that outlines the means for companies to sell similar versions of innovative biologics, called "biosimilars." In attempting to create a pathway for biosimilars, Congress must be careful not to kill the innovation behind the development of original new drugs.

Protection for biotech innovation key to economic development