At a press conference in Richmond today, Governor Bob McDonnell lauded university medical schools and science centers, local hospitals and clinical research facilities for their positive impact on patient health and the economy. In 3,412 clinical trials of new medicines conducted in Virginia over the last 13 years, 76,000 jobs were created, according to a new report by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) released today at the event.
The findings show the state's clinical tests of new medicines have been beneficial to patients, the local economy and the advancement of science.
"The impact of clinical trials cannot be overstated - our neighbors, friends and family all benefit from the advances in medical research done at the Old Dominion's prestigious research institutions," said Governor McDonnell. "Realizing the power of working together, our state's research facilities and biopharmaceutical companies have created cutting-edge research opportunities and good-paying high technology jobs in Virginia. They have also developed innovative new treatments that are saving lives and improving health outcomes for patients throughout Virginia."
Sheri Coombs Lambert, Executive Director of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, applauded the more than 700 clinical trials of new cancer medicines that have been conducted since 1999 in the state "at a time when cancer strikes tens of thousands of Virginians every year."
Just under half of the clinical trials in Virginia have targeted the most devastating chronic diseases, with more than 1,500 aimed at asthma, heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and mental illnesses.
Highlights of the report illustrate the importance of clinical trials of new chronic disease medicines to Virginia patients:
More than 40,000 new cancer cases will be diagnosed this year in the state and 14,720 Virginians will die of the disease, according to the American Cancer Society. Biopharmaceutical companies and their local research collaborators, including the University of Virginia Health Sciences Center Emily Couric Clinical Cancer Center and Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center, are currently conducting 140 trials of new cancer medicines that are recruiting patients.
Nearly 9 percent of the state's adults have been diagnosed with diabetes, which, in 2010, killed 1,527 Virginia diabetics. Currently, 45 diabetes medicine clinical tests are recruiting patients in Virginia.
More than 13,000 state patients died of heart disease in 2010 and 3,259 suffered fatal strokes. Thirty-two heart disease and 10 stroke clinical trials are seeking Virginia patients.
About 262,000 Virginia adults live with serious mental illness and about 82,000 children have significant mental health conditions, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Twenty-eight clinical trials of new mental illness medicines are seeking patient participants in the Old Dominion.
Asthma impacts more than 412,000 adults and 152,000 children in Virginia. Twelve clinical trials of new asthma treatments are active and recruiting patients at institutions like the Virginia Commonwealth University Health System.
The new report also emphasizes the positive impact of clinical trials on the state's economy. "At a time when trials account for 45 to 75 percent of the average $1.2 billion needed to develop a new medicine, the collaborations with Virginia's medical schools, hospitals and clinical research facilities have contributed to the state's economy," said Jeffrey Bond, Senior Vice President at PhRMA. "These clinical trials have not only benefited our economy, they have included tests of new-generation biotechnology treatments that have helped to advance science and improve patient care. With biotechnology's new techniques, we have the strong potential to develop safer and more effective therapies and are improving our ability to predict and even prevent disease."
Among the 267 clinical trials still recruiting patients in the state, there are trials of a genetically-modified vaccine to treat melanoma, a fusion protein to treat diabetic macular edema and a new antibody that targets lupus and various cancers.
Institutions conducting clinical trials of new medicines in collaboration with biopharmaceutical companies in Virginia include:
Eastern Virginia Medical School Strelitz Diabetes Center, Norfolk
University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville
Virginia Commonwealth University Health System, Richmond
Lynchburg Hematology-Oncology Clinic, Lynchburg
Inova Fairfax Medical Center, Falls Church
Hampton Roads Center for Clinical Research, Suffolk
Riverside Regional Medical Center, Newport News
St. Mary's Hospital, Richmond
Blue Ridge Cancer Care, Christiansburg, Salem
Burke Internal Medicine and Research, Burke
Urology of Virginia, Virginia Beach
Bon Secours Heart and Vascular Institute, Mechanicsville
Cardiology Associates of Fredericksburg, Fredericksburg
Chesapeake General Hospital, Norfolk
Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, Norfolk
Centra Lynchburg General Hospital, Lynchburg
Roanoke Heart Institute, Roanoke
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 over $500 billion in the search for new treatments and cures, including an estimated $49.5 billion in 2011 alone.