Press Release

Alabama Clinical Trials Benefit Patients and the Economy

PhRMA December 4, 2013

BIRMINGHAM, AL (December 4, 2013) – Working with Alabama research institutions, including several facilities in Birmingham, the nation’s biopharmaceutical research companies have conducted 3,431 clinical trials of new medicines in the state over the last 14 years, according to a new report by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). 

The report, “Research in Your Backyard:  Pharmaceutical Clinical Trials in Alabama,” shows biopharmaceutical companies and their local collaborators conducting clinical research in more than 10 communities, including Huntsville, Mobile, Dothan, Tuscaloosa and Montgomery. 

The report was unveiled today at a news conference at Innovation Depot, a business incubation facility that focuses on developing emerging biotechnology/life sciences, information technology and services businesses in partnership with the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). 

Speakers included Governor Robert Bentley, PhRMA Senior Vice President Matthew Bennett, Southern Research Institute CEO Art Tipton and Dr. David Winwood, Executive Director of the UAB Institute for Innovation & Entrepreneurship and Senior Associate Vice President for Economic Development & Innovation Alliances at UAB.    

“Alabama is a leader in medical research, and that supports economic development while also improving lives,” said Governor Bentley.  “The biosciences industry is a prime area for growth in Accelerate Alabama, our strategic plan for long-term economic development.  In 2011, biopharmaceutical research companies in the state generated about $3.2 billion in economic activity and supported nearly 17,000 jobs.  And while working with our outstanding research centers, the companies have conducted thousands of clinical trials of new medicines as they strive to improve patient care.”  

More than 40 percent of the over 3,400 clinical trials of new medicines the companies have conducted with the state’s research institutions have targeted the most debilitating chronic diseases – cancer, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, asthma and mental illnesses.  Over 230 of those chronic disease trials are still active and recruiting patients, including 123 trials for cancer and 37 for heart disease.

Alabama institutions conducting clinical trials for biopharmaceutical companies have included the Kirklin Clinic at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Children’s Hospital of Alabama in Birmingham, Northwest Alabama Cancer Center in Muscle Shoals, Medical Affiliated Research Center in Huntsville, Heart Center Research LLC in Huntsville, the University of South Alabama Mitchell Cancer Institute in Mobile and Harmonex Neuroscience Research in Dothan.

“Clinical trials give talented clinicians all over the state of Alabama an opportunity to be fully engaged in biopharmaceutical research that benefits patients,” said Bentley.

Bennett lauded the amount of biotechnology research conducted. “When I read the new report, I was struck not only by the quantity of trials our companies have conducted in the state, but also by the cutting-edge nature of much of the work,” he said.  “The fact is, this is the medical science of the future, as more and more of the medicines clinically tested in Alabama and around the country are biotechnology treatments.  Our growing understanding of the molecular underpinnings of disease, coupled with new scientific approaches to developing medicines, give us the ability to create safer and more effective therapies.  They also help us to improve our ability to predict and even prevent disease.” 

At facilities in Birmingham, Huntsville, Mobile, Tuscaloosa and Anniston, research is underway on a therapeutic vaccine designed to jump-start the immune system to fight disease, an engineered human antibody to reduce inflammation in psoriasis, a monoclonal antibody for rheumatoid arthritis that may block the inflammatory process, another monoclonal antibody for lupus and a potential gene therapy for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) represents the country’s leading innovative biopharmaceutical research and biotechnology companies, which are devoted to discovering and developing medicines that enable patients to live longer, healthier, and more productive lives. Since 2000, PhRMA member companies have invested approximately $550 billion in the search for new treatments and cures, including an estimated $48.5 billion in 2012 alone.

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