After tough period for lobby, BIO chief Michelle McMurry-Heath goes on leave

WASHINGTON — Michelle McMurry-Heath, one of the most prominent faces of the drug industry in Washington, is on leave from her role as CEO of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, the group confirmed on Sunday.

“The BIO CEO is currently on leave. BIO does not speculate on rumors relative to employees or personnel,” BIO Chief Public Affairs and Marketing Officer Rich Masters said.

It is unclear when the leave started. McMurry-Heath appeared in-person on behalf of BIO at a life sciences event in Philadelphia on Thursday. The Wall Street Journal first reported that McMurry-Heath was on leave.


All BIO board members received a notification of an upcoming full board meeting on Monday, and it is not a regularly scheduled meeting, according to two industry sources.

Democrats in early August passed a new drug pricing reform law that drug makers, including BIO, formally opposed. The law was the biggest lobbying loss for the drug industry in decades.


BIO has been roiled by internal conflict for more than a year by departures in its lobbying team, disagreements over how to handle drug pricing policy, and whether the group should take stances on social issues outside the biotech space such as voting rights.

McMurry-Heath joined BIO in June 2020 with a charge to bridge internal dissension and give the lobbying group new direction. While her predecessor was a former Republican congressman, she was a Democrat, a social justice advocate, a former Food and Drug Administration official, and the first Black person to graduate with an M.D.-Ph.d. from Duke University.

“I was brought in to make bold change,” she told STAT in an interview last year. “Change is messy.”

BIO represents a huge range of roughly 1,000 biotech companies, from small upstarts to pharma giants such as Bristol Myers Squibb, Merck, and AbbVie.

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Source: STAT