Press Release

Clinical Trials Benefit Colorado's Health and Economy

PhRMA April 25, 2013

Washington, D.C. (March 19, 2012) — Working in close collaboration with Colorado’s university medical schools, hospitals and clinical research centers, the nation’s biopharmaceutical research companies are conducting or have conducted since 1999 more than 3,000 clinical trials of new medicines in the state, a new report shows.

Nearly half of Colorado clinical tests target or have targeted the nation’s six most debilitating chronic diseases – asthma, cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and mental illnesses, according to “Research in Your Backyard: Pharmaceutical Clinical Trials in Colorado.”

Another report – “Medicines in Development for Asthma” – shows biopharmaceutical companies are developing 74 new medicines for asthma alone. More than 100 clinical trials of new asthma drugs have been conducted in Colorado and 17 of them are still recruiting patients. Among the state’s research institutions conducting asthma trials is National Jewish Health in Denver, which U.S. News & World Report has named the top respiratory hospital in the United States.

Both reports, which were compiled by Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), will be discussed at a press conference with Governor John Hickenlooper at 11 a.m. Monday in the West Foyer of the Colorado State Capitol. Besides Governor Hickenlooper, speakers will include Curt Huber, executive director of the American Lung Association in Colorado, Dr. Rohit Katial, professor of medicine at National Jewish Health and the University of Colorado, and PhRMA spokesman Jeff Trewhitt, one of the authors of the clinical trial report. 

The new Colorado clinical trial report shows that the 17 asthma medicine clinical trials still recruiting patients are among a total of 281 trials in the state still seeking volunteer participants, including 173 tests of new cancer medications. Cancer drug trials are underway at the Children’s Hospital Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders and the University of Colorado-Denver School of Medicine, both in Aurora; St. Mary’s Regional Cancer Center in Grand Junction; the Rocky Mountain Cancer Center in Denver, Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs; and other research institutions in the state.

The appendix of the report provides information on each of the tests still recruiting patients because for some disease sufferers, the trials could be viable new therapeutic options to discuss with their health care providers. 

The report also shows that many of the medicines being tested in Colorado are new-generation biotechnology drugs, which are developed through biological processes using living cells or organisms, rather than chemical synthesis, the mainstay of pharmaceutical development for decades. 

Biotechnology medicines being clinically tested in Colorado include monoclonal antibodies for cancer and lupus and interferons for cancer. Monoclonal antibodies are laboratory-made versions of a naturally-occurring immune system protein that binds to and neutralizes foreign toxic substances and interferons are proteins that interfere with the ability of a cell to reproduce.

“Through biotechnology, our companies are developing new ways to not only more effectively treat disease, but also to predict, preempt and prevent it,” said PhRMA’s Trewhitt. “The clinical trials of these cutting-edge medicines are helping to advance science, patient health care and the state’s economy.”

Holli Riebel, president and CEO of Colorado Bioscience Association, said the state’s biopharmaceutical industry “is a vital part of Colorado’s economy. This sector includes approximately 300 companies employing over 5,410 people with average salaries of $93,000 [a year].” 

A study by Archstone Consulting found that biopharmaceutical companies, in 2008, invested $379.9 million in research and development in Colorado and provided $10.8 billion in products and services.

The clinical trials that have been conducted in the state are critical to drug development, accounting for seven of the 10 to 15 years required to develop a new medicine and 45 to 75 percent of the average $1.2 billion cost of creating a treatment.

“Patients often wonder about the risks and benefits of clinical trials,” said Dr. Salvatore Alesci, PhRMA’s vice president of scientific affairs. “Testing new medications involves thousands of patients and the generation of volumes of technical and scientific data to help establish safety and effectiveness  and  allow the Food and Drug Administration to approve treatments.” 

The research facilities in Colorado that have conducted or are conducting clinical trials include:

  • Asthma and Allergy Associates, Colorado Springs.
  • Catholic Health Initiatives, Colorado Springs.
  • Front Range Cancer Specialists, Fort Collins and Loveland.
  • University of Colorado Denver Health Sciences Center, Aurora.
  • Rocky Mountain Cancer Center-Midtown, Denver.
  • The Urology Center of Colorado, Denver.
  • Colorado Blood Cancer Institute, Denver.
  • Aurora Denver Cardiology, Denver.
  • Medical Center of the Rockies, Fort Collins.
  • Colorado Cardiac Alliance, Colorado Springs.
  • St. Mary’s Regional Cancer Center, Grand Junction.
  • National Jewish Health, Denver.
  • Rocky Mountain Center for Clinical Research, Wheat Ridge.
  • Memorial Hospital, Colorado Springs.

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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