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Utah Life Sciences News & Events

Vice President Mike Pence Tours Merit Medical, Talks U.S., Mexico, Canada Agreement

August 23, 2019

On Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence toured Merit Medical, where he delivered remarks to employees, local government officials and guests in support of the United States, Mexico, Canada Agreement (USMCA). 

“Merit is a great example of a Utah life sciences company that is making its mark not only in the state, but around the globe,” said Kelvyn Cullimore, President and CEO of BioUtah, who was on hand to hear Pence. “Being able to showcase our innovative industry at this level is quite important.”

The Vice President praised Merit Medical, one of Utah’s leading medical device manufacturers for its entrepreneurial spirit and leadership. He noted that the company, on track to hit $1 billion in revenue this year, was founded more than 30 years ago with just one product, a plastic syringe, to replace what had traditionally been made of glass. Today, Merit holds 1500 patents and employs over 6,000 people and worldwide, almost half of which are in Utah.

On the topic of the USMCA, Pence spoke passionately about how its passage would benefit the economy and American workers. “I’ve been traveling all across the United States because it’s time we get the U.S., Mexico, Canada deal done and get it done this year,” said Pence. 

Before the Vice President took the stage, Merit CEO, Fred Lampropoulos, shared his views on his company’s work, trade and the USMCA. “We save thousands of lives every day,” said Lampropoulos. He stressed the need to not only have free trade, but fair trade, as other businesses try to copy their products. Notably, for life sciences companies, the USMCA strengthens protections for intellectual property. The agreement, however, must pass both the U.S. House and Senate, and so far, the House hasn’t been willing to call a vote.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross, also addressed the gathering. He spoke highly of Utah’s economy, and specifically recognized the states’s life sciences community as the fastest growing in the nation.

The day before the Vice President’s arrival, Lampropoulos told ABC News, “We have 1,000 employees in Tijuana, we have 100 employees in Canada and we do tens of millions of dollars — hundreds of millions of dollars of revenues in just North America”. The ability to move products easily across these borders is essential to Merit and other life sciences companies.

“BioUtah supports passage of the USMCA, said Kelvyn Cullimore. “The safeguards for intellectual property in the agreement are significant.” 

Merit flagged two other issues for the Vice President during his visit – ending the medical device tax and highlighting the company’s in-house medical and dental clinics for employees.