Clinical Trials in Alabama

Alabama Governor Bentley Stresses the Importance of Attracting Clinical Research

12.05.13 | By Jeff Trewhitt

Biopharmaceutical research companies have already conducted more than 3,400 clinical trials of new medicines in Alabama since 1999.  And Governor Robert Bentley made clear yesterday his desire to see the valuable partnership between the biopharmaceutical sector and his state’s research institutions continue well into the future.

In fact, he noted that the biosciences industry, including biopharmaceutical companies, are “a prime area for growth in Accelerate Alabama,” the state’s economic development strategy plan.

Dr. Bentley, a physician, was in Birmingham yesterday for the roll-out of the new report “Research in Your Backyard:  Pharmaceutical Clinical Trials in Alabama,” along with Matthew Bennett, a senior vice president at PhRMA and my boss, and leaders of the Alabama biomedical research community, including Dr. David Winwood, executive director of the Institute for Innovation & Entrepreneurship at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB).

Dr. Bentley, who has pledged to forego a paycheck until the Alabama unemployment rate is lowered to 5.2 percent, said innovation and research, including biopharmaceutical research and development, are key components of his job creation campaign.  He stressed that though biopharmaceutical companies lack a prominent bricks and mortar presence in Alabama, they have a strong positive impact on the state through the clinical trials they conduct and the jobs they support.

In 2011, the biopharmaceutical sector generated about $3.2 billion in economic activity in Alabama and supported nearly 17,000 jobs.  And 40 percent of the thousands of clinical trials conducted over the last 14 years targeted the nation’s and the state’s most debilitating chronic diseases, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and asthma.

Governor Bentley pointed out that clinical trials give talented scientists at the state’s university research facilities, hospitals, specialty treatment centers and contract research organizations the opportunity to be involved in research that helps advance science and benefits patients.  Biopharmaceutical company-sponsored clinical research has benefited not only UAB, but also research institutions in Huntsville, Mobile, Dothan, Tuscaloosa, Montgomery and other communities.

Many of the medications clinically tested in Alabama have been cutting-edge biotechnology treatments, and the governor noted that this innovation is helping to improve our ability to predict and prevent disease.

It’s understandable why attracting more biopharmaceutical research and development is a top priority of Accelerate Alabama:  with clinical research, you help patients, you help to advance science and you boost the economy.  And who knows, expanding the scope of biopharmaceutical research might even contribute to the governor finally being able to accept a paycheck.      

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