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Biopharma Leaders Are Slamming Trump’s Immigration Ban

Jan 30, 2017

President Donald Trump's executive order over the weekend temporarily barring immigration from seven Muslim-majority nations (and halting new refugees from coming in from Syria) has drawn widespread condemnation from the likes of Starbucks (sbux) CEO Howard Schultz, Salesforce (crm) chief Marc Benioff, Harvard University president Drew Faust, and many others. And a number of drugmakers aren't staying mum on the issue, either.

Here's a collection of responses to the ban from major biopharma companies and medical leaders.

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Allergan CEO Brent Saunders

Alnylam CEO John Maraganore

"At Alnylam we live our values and celebrate many benefits from a diverse workforce. Accordingly, we reject all forms of discrimination and limitations that prevent us from benefiting and growing as a diverse and inclusive workplace. We have a number of international employees working legally at our U.S. locations, and will continue to support them in every way we can."

Bluebird Bio CEO Nick Leschly

Eli Lilly

"The situation surrounding the executive order on immigration remains very fluid. We are closely monitoring developments to determine whether our employees and their ability to travel freely will be affected," wrote the company in an email to Fortune.

Vertex

"Vertex is a global and diverse company, where the contributions of many help us discover, develop and provide access to medicines that help patients around the world," said the company in an email sent out to employees. "We are opposed to any immigration policies and restrictions that target people based solely on their nationality and/or religious faith. Any immigration policy that hinders the diversity of people, faith, or thought hurts this country and our company. We will continue to monitor this issue very closely."

Merck

"We are committed to our employees of all nationalities and religions," said the pharma giant in an email to Fortune. "We are actively reaching out to employees who may be affected by the Executive Order to provide legal guidance and other assistance."

Pfizer

Pfizer declined to comment on the order in an email to Fortune.

PhRMA

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the industry's main lobbying arm and trade group, did not have an official comment as of press time.

Illumina

"Our primary concern is for our employees who may be directly impacted by this policy and we are doing everything we can to support them at this time. Our ability to innovate depends on a diverse and talented team of individuals from different geographies, backgrounds, and experiences. We will be proactively reaching out to members of Congress to share our concerns about how changes in immigration policies like this impact Illumina and our employees," said the biotech in a statement.

A whole host of biotechs

Unlike major tech companies' CEOs, who seemed to come out in droves to publicly comment on the immigration order, many of the biggest pharma companies either issued more careful statements or declined to weigh in on the issue. But things were a little different for smaller biotechs.

Endpoints News' John Carroll has been chronicling biotech executives' reactions to Trump's order. And in a snap poll, just 13% of the 1,167 respondents said they supported the immigration band (while 75% said they thought it would adversely impact biotech).

Even some who recognized that the seven countries affected by the order may not exactly be traditional hubs of biopharma innovation argued that the message behind the action is the problem. For instance, Acorda Therapeutics CEO Ron Cohen, who also chairs the BIO industry trade group, warned of the "chilling effect on would-be immigrants everywhere, who will now see America as less welcoming, more threatening, and many of whom will therefore choose to benefit other countries with their talents instead."

Of course, not every single executive and biopharma leader is that opposed to the order. "In the long term, firmness encourages respect," wrote one anonymous respondent to the survey.

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