WASHINGTON DC – More than a quarter of 901 cutting-edge biotechnology medicines in development today are being created by biopharmaceutical research companies operating within Pennsylvania, a new report shows.
The report, compiled by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), finds that the state’s biopharmaceutical companies have embraced a wide range of new-generation research and development techniques. These medicines and vaccines are being designed to treat, manage or prevent heart disease, different types of cancer, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, asthma, arthritis, influenza, chronic fatigue syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, blood disorders and many other diseases.
Pennsylvania health statistics reflect the need for effective new treatments for these conditions.
-Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the state and it has been estimated cancer will kill 28,560 Pennsylvanians this year.
-Diabetes afflicted 9 percent of the state’s adult population in 2007 and caused nearly $6.8 billion in direct and indirect costs.
- More than 37,000 AIDS cases had been diagnosed and reported in the state through December 31, 2009.
“Through biotechnology, we are developing new ways to not only effectively treat these diseases, but also to predict, pre-empt and prevent them,” said PhRMA spokesman Jeff Trewhitt. “Pennsylvania is one of only a handful of states where most of the pioneering research and development work is being done.”
Modern biotechnology has given biopharmaceutical companies in the Keystone State new approaches to immunization as researchers seek to develop cheaper, more efficient, safer and easy-to-produce vaccines.
“Some new-generation vaccines are being developed to actually treat disease, including those designed to treat cancer by delaying or stopping cancer cell growth or shrinking tumors so the disease does not reoccur,” said Trewhitt. “Companies in the state are also developing monoclonal antibody treatments, which are important because they are laboratory-developed versions of naturally occurring immune system proteins that bind to and neutralize harmful substances.”
Biopharmaceutical research companies operating in Pennsylvania are a mix of larger and smaller firms. Many are clustered in and around Philadelphia, one of the nation’s top medical research centers. A 2009 Milken Institute study found that 15 percent of the Philadelphia region’s economic activity and one in six jobs could be attributed to pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, medical devices, life sciences, health care services and supporting industries.
Statewide, the biopharmaceutical industry supported nearly 190,000 jobs during 2008.
“Biopharmaceutical research companies in Pennsylvania are vitally important to not only the state’s patients, but also the economy,” said Trewhitt.