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Humanizing Patent Reform

We Work for Health is a coalition and partnership of business, academic and community leaders focused on emphasizing how important the life sciences sector is to Washington’s economy. The coalition raises awareness about public policy, and the impact it has on the economic strength of local life sciences companies, related industries and surrounding communities. We Work for Health helps Washingtonians understand the importance of the industry to their state and local communities.


In 2011, patent reform legislation was moving through Congress and it was critical to the biopharmaceutical industry that the Senate and House bills passed and were favorable to the sector. The Washington state federal delegation had to be informed and convinced to support important elements of the reform, such as patent filing and review procedures, that were fair to innovative pharmaceutical companies. Members also had to vote in favor of the final bill in the midst of a full local and nationwide debate.

Given the political makeup of the Washington delegation, the legislation needed bipartisan support in order to pass.


Nyhus mobilized and managed the WWFH coalition in a months-long campaign that systematically engaged Washington senators and representatives. This effort expressed to the elected officials why the votes favored by WWFH and PhRMA on patent reform were critical to sustaining and strengthening the economic benefits to Washington provided by the biomedical industry.

This approach included earned media in large and mid-circulation newspapers, advocacy letters signed by biotech leadership and addressed to delegation members as well as outreach to local biomedical companies with interests in sound patent reform. These initiatives were closely coordinated with PhRMA lobbying in Washington, D.C. Some parts of this outreach were strategically scheduled while others, such as advocacy letters, were timed and worded to respond to hour-to-hour developments in legislative deliberations.


Every member of the Washington House delegation voted in favor of patent reform. This clean sweep helped pass the version of patent reform that PhRMA wanted in both houses of Congress. Targeted media, including an op-ed published in the Sunday Seattle Times by a state senator with a remarkable story of survival through cancer drug innovation and an op-ed by the president of Washington State University published in the Spokesman-Review, were circulated within key audiences in Washington, D.C. and the Washington biomedical industry.

The WWFH patent reform campaign was closely coordinated between Washington state public affairs advocacy and direct elected engagement in Washington, D.C., resulting in powerful messaging that yielded optimal results for the Nyhus client.

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