Pennsylvania Biopharmaceutical Companies Are Developing Over 25 Percent of Breakthrough Biotechnology Medicines

WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Nearly 250 – more than a fourth – of the record 901 cutting-edge biotechnology medicines in development today are being created by biopharmaceutical research companies with operations in Pennsylvania, a new report shows.

The report, compiled by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), finds that biopharmaceutical companies in the state have embraced a wide range of new-generation research and development techniques as they develop 97 biotechnology-derived vaccines, 95 monoclonal antibody treatments, 14 recombinant proteins and other medicines made from cells and genes.

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 statistics alone underscore the importance of having 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, meanwhile, afflicted nine percent of the state’s adult population in 2007 and caused nearly $6.8 billion in direct and indirect costs. Through December 31, 2009, more than 37,000 AIDS cases had been diagnosed and reported in the state.

“Through biotechnology, we are developing new ways to not only effectively treat these diseases, but also to predict, preempt 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.”

In addition, Pennsylvania biotechnology research is focused on production of recombinant proteins produced through genetic engineering in living cells. These products are used as medicines in a variety of ways, including destruction of cancer cells, stimulation of body growth, stimulation of red blood cell production in bone marrow and treatment of Type 1 diabetes.

The biopharmaceutical research companies with operations in Pennsylvania are a mix of larger and smaller firms, many of which are clustered in and around Philadelphia, one of the nation’s top medical research centers. A 2009 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.

The study by the Milken Institute showed the growth in this economic cluster to be primarily the result of the area’s large concentration of biopharmaceutical companies and top-ranked research-oriented universities, which often collaborate with the companies in the development of new medicines.

Statewide, the biopharmaceutical industry supported nearly 190,000 jobs in 2008.

“Biopharmaceutical research companies in Pennsylvania are vitally important to not only the state’s patients, but also the economy,” said Trewhitt. “And with the prominent role they are playing in the development of cutting-edge biotechnology medicines, they are helping to advance science and, ultimately, patient care.”

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) represents the country’s leading pharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies, which are devoted to inventing medicines that allow patients to live longer, healthier, and more productive lives. PhRMA companies are leading the way in the search for new cures. PhRMA members alone invested an estimated $49.4 billion in 2010 in discovering and developing new medicines. Industry-wide research and investment reached a record $67.4 billion in 2010.

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Jeff Trewhitt

KEYWORDS:   United States  North America  District of Columbia  Pennsylvania

INDUSTRY KEYWORDS:   Health  Biotechnology  Genetics  Pharmaceutical  Research  Science